Typosquatting

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TypoSquatting defined as the intentional registration of misspellings of popular website addresses in order to garner large amounts of traffic.[1]

The practice is also known as "URL hijacking" and is considered as form of cybersquatting.[2] A study from March 2010 conducted by Bruce Scheiner concluded that at least 938000 typosquatting domain names target the top 326 .com websites. [3] Some large name servers host four times as many typosquatting domain names as they do legitimate domains.

Forms of Typosquatting

In the case of typosquatting, four most common reasons for typographical errors are listed below:

  • Common misspelling such as in the case of a different language;
  • Wrong phrase for the domain name;
  • Wrong TLD (e.g. .net instead of .com);
  • Common misspelling due to typing errors.

Typosquatting versus Cybersquatting

Typosquatters rely on the mistakes users make when entering names into the address bars of their browser. Once led to the website of a typosquatter, the Internet user may be tricked into thinking that they have reached the right website due to the similarities in design, logos, website layouts or even content. [4]

As compared to typosquatting, the practice of cybersquatting involves the purchase of domain names with the purpose of earning money based on the popularity and fame of a specific trademark or company. There are also cases when such websites enjoy a purchase proposal from the parent company itself. [5].

Fine & Penalties

Typosquatters are often made to take down their offending sites and reimburse the original trademark owner or victim. In February, 2012, a UK phone service company fined owners of "wikapedia" and "twtter" $156,000 for their sites, and ordered them to reimburse confused consumers.[6]

How to Prevent Typosquatting

The best available solution to ensure protection against typosquatting involves identifying the most common typographical errors of that specific domain name and purchase them.[7]

If someone accidentally makes a typographical error and is directed to a typosquatted website, one can send a cease letter. There are many lawsuits related to cybersquatting and typosquatting. [8]

References