Don’t Fall Victim to Typosquatting - There’s Gold in Them Thar Typos
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Whatis.com not only explains what typosquatting is, but gives some idea as to what an individual or company might gain from doing it.
“Typically, a typosquatter will register several possible input errors for a ‘brand name’ web site known for its high traffic, and then monitor to see how many clicks a day each of their ‘typo’ domain names receives, and use the information to sell advertising for the sites that receive a high volume of accidental traffic. Advertising revenue might come from selling ads to the original site’s competitors or by providing redirect pages to related products or services.”
Back in 2000, Powerclick Inc., Global Net 2000 Inc., Data Art Corp., and Stoneybrook Investments were accused of registering hundreds of typoed domain names and serving ads on them. ZDNet described one egregious case in which a surfer trying to reach the website for the Washington Post, if he or she left the final “t” off of the domain name, would be redirected to an ad for the New York Times. Needless to say, lawsuits ensued.
This is not the only way that squatters use typoed domain names. Sometimes the purchaser actually is a rival business, rather than someone merely trying to sell advertising. As with other kinds of typosquatting, this is an attempt to capitalize on someone else’s work building up a good name and good website.
Some typosquatters have purely monetary goals in mind. They don’t have any intention of doing much of anything with the typoed domain. Instead, they want to sell it to you – at a significant profit to themselves. It’s exactly the same form of blackmail used by cybersquatters.
In some cases, typosquatters have even more malicious intentions in mind. Sometimes their websites play host to viruses, spyware, adware, and other infectious programs. Someone visiting the typoed website might discover that their computer had become infected – and blame the company whose site they were trying to visit in the first place! This kind of situation can be costly to an online organization’s reputation and accumulated goodwill. Search engine Google faced this situation early in 2005, and took action against the perpetrator.
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