Donít Fall Victim to Typosquatting
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It isn't just Google that can become "a victim of its own success" and fall prey to typosquatting. What's that? You say you've never heard of typosquatting? Keep reading; you're in for an unpleasant surprise. You will learn what typosquatting is, and, more importantly, how to protect yourself from it. You will also learn how to fight it if it happens to you.
Not too long ago, we at Developer Shed discovered that someone had registered a pair of domain names similar to two that we ourselves own. They had merely juxtaposed the second and third letters of the relevant names. As near as we could tell from the siteís content (and it appeared to be the same for both domains), this site was not directly competing with us; it was merely hoping to capitalize on our popularity. In short, we had become a victim of our own success Ė and a victim of typosquatting.
Typosquatting is a variant of cybersquatting that relies on the popularity of the website being typoed, and Internet usersí hasty, slippery fingers on the keyboard. A typosquatter buys a domain name that is close in spelling to a popular one, and sets up a site there in the hopes that users trying to reach the original domain will accidentally arrive at his domain instead. For example, a typosquatter might buy ďgooogle.com,Ē ďgogle.com,Ē and a few other variations on the popular search engineís name.
Typosquatting is not a new phenomenon. ZDNet was reporting on the topic as far back as 2000. Though Microsoft Word Ė at least, the version Iím using to write this article -- doesnít seem to recognize it as a legitimate word, Webopedia and Whatis have both heard of it, and Wikipedia boasts a concise, respectable article on the topic as well.
This practice is one that any company doing business online needs to be aware of. In the past, there have been companies whose entire business models were based on typosquatting. Other entities have had to engage in defensive registration of typos. For example, Arnold Schwartzenegger is said to control URLs featuring the ten most popular misspellings of his name. In the next section, Iíll discuss how companies make money from engaging in typosquatting.
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