What Is Cybersquatting and How To Prevent It?

You spend a lot of time, effort, and money to build your website’s brand. However, we often see how some people purchase $10 domains that look similar to yours. Buying such a domain and minding their own business is something you can forgive. But what would happen if they went ahead and started threatening you to ruin your brand? This is where Cybersquatting happens. All website owners need to have a clear understanding of what Cybersquatting is all about. From this article, we will help you learn what is Cybersquatting all about.

Cybersquatting definition 

What is Cybersquatting? The activity of registering a new that matches a well-known business or individual without its permission is known as Cybersquatting and domain squatting. The domain registrant purchases the name in bad faith, usually profiting from the individual or organization’s goodwill or harming their reputation.

The act of registering, selling, or utilizing a web address to benefit from the goodwill of another’s brand is known as Cybersquatting. It refers to purchasing domain names that include the names of existing companies to resell the names to those firms for a profit.

Types of Cybersquatting

cybersquatting types

Now you are aware of the cybersquatting definition. If you want to learn more about cybersquatting meaning, you will need to know about the different cybersquatting types. Here are the different types of Cybersquatting that you can find.

  • Typo squatting

One of the most popular kinds of Cybersquatting is Typo squatting. In this case, the cybersquatter purchases misspelled domain names for well-known companies on purpose. The purpose is to develop a fake website that visitors will visit if they mistype a domain name, misspell it or press one or more erroneous keys).

typo squatting

Typo squatting is when a domain’s original spelling is changed by adding or removing any digits, letters, or periods. Changing the order of characters or phrases in a domain is also included. In its most basic form, Typosquatting refers to any spelling variation that people could mistype.

Even if a tiny percentage of visitors make a mistake, typo squatters obtain a lot of free attention to their illegal domains when prominent sites get millions of visits. For example, the Google.com domain can be cyber squatted can be google.cm, googl.cm, and wwwgoogle.com.

  • TLDs Exploitation

Top-level domains (TLDs), such as.com, .tech, .org, and others are the final portion of a domain name. There are almost 2,000 different TLDs on the market. Although giant corporations such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook have a significant portfolio of such domains, small and medium-sized enterprises cannot afford to purchase domain names, including their brand name in all TLD versions.

tlds exploitation

Cybercasters take advantage of this circumstance by purchasing matching domains with various TLDs for a famous company. Cyber-squatters create an improper website with a misspelled name and force company owners to pay a high amount to safeguard their companies’ reputations. Some cyber squatters use such names to create phishing sites that deceive the consumers of the original site.

  • Gripe Sites

All cyber squatters out there don’t try to make any profit. You will also see how some of them have their agendas. For example, some of them want to ruin their reputation, publish extremely religious, political, or social beliefs, take personal revenge, or mock the original mission or value of the website.

Such people go ahead and publish new content on the cyber-squat websites. The content that they post is pretty much similar to the content on the original website. However, you will be able to see how such content can lead the original website owner to embarrassing situations. For example, you will notice how the Microsoft.com website microsoftsucks.com has been created to mock the Microsoft.com website.

There are also situations where business competitors go ahead and create gripe websites on the internet. Then they use inappropriate content on the website to negatively impact the original brand. Moreover, they also redirect traffic unnecessarily based on their gripe sites.

  • Look-Alike Domain

similar domain

Another example of Cybersquatting is getting look-alike domain names. These are the domain names that look similar to the original domain names. However, you will be able to see numbers, special characters, and everyday words being used them. In some instances, you will also see how some of the terms are interchanged for Cybersquatting.

For example, the domain name Google.com can be modified by adding extra characters such as google-official.com, googlesearch.com, and googlely.com.

There are situations where the words are being reordered as well. For example, theguardian.com domain name can be altered to guardian.com.

  • Misleading Subdomain

Attackers may break a web address into two halves, purchase a domain for the latter half, and add a sub-domain for the first half. Not sure what we’re talking about? firs read “subdomain meaning” article, then let’s look at the domain www.britannica.com as an example.

The original domain, in this case, is www.britannica.com. If a typo squatter splits it into two pieces — example, britan, and nica, they may acquire the domain nica.com and set up a domain britan.nica.com to fool people.

Cybercasters also purchase random web addresses and create subdomains with well-known brands. Amazon.randomsite.com or facebook.anydomain.com, for example. Non-tech informed individuals may be unaware that nearly anybody may create a domain of any phrase or number. The main domain comes before the TLD and symbolizes the domain name’s validity.

When you look at the example of facebook.anydomain.com, that Facebook keyword is only utilized as a sub-domain, not as a representation of the original domain’s authenticity. Anydomain.com is the primary domain. To put it another way, you won’t be able to acquire facebook.com, but you may be able to purchase any other accessible web address and create a subdomain with the term “Facebook.”

  • Celebrity name cybersquatting

celebrity name cybersquatting

Cybersquatters purchase domain names for celebrities before the stars themselves do. If celebs already have sites, the culprits purchase domain names that are similar or identical. They get traffic by deceiving fans, and they generate money by selling products with a celebrity’s brand or even images by selling 3rd advertising.

Cybersquatters often create phishing sites to get followers to submit personal identifying information (PII) such as email addresses, date of birth, phone number, and even physical addresses. The purpose of some Cybersquatters is to offer such web addresses to celebrities for a high price. Some of the celebrities who became victims of Cybersquatting in the recent past include Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, and Paris Hilton.

  • Expiration Date Exploitation

Certain Cybersquatters monitor target domains and their expiry dates. When they fail to proceed with the domain renewal, the criminals take advantage of the situation and register the web address in their names.

Fortunately, significant firms are less likely to have such renewal problems since they often get a few notifications before their domains’ expiry dates. It does, however, happen from time to time. This predicament, however, usually impacts startups and small businesses.

if you want to know what happens when a domain name expires read our article.

  • Homograph Attacks

This sort of Cybersquatting is very nefarious. Cybercriminals employ Punycode, a subset of Unicode characters, to transform conventional domain names (typically consisting of ASCII digits, special symbols, and letters into domain names that appear legal. As a result, in this form of assault, criminal actors generate domains with Punycode that are visually indistinguishable from legitimate website domains.

For example, the Punycode that resembles apple.com can be https://xn--80ak6aa92e.com/. The Apple.com website will be loaded on the web browser when you enter that.

How to prevent Cybersquatting?

prevent cybersquatting

You can take legal actions against Cybersquatting. This is where you should clearly understand the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. His legislation includes a detailed description of Cybersquatting and what elements should be examined during a dispute. If the domain name registrar is convicted of Cybersquatting, the court may order the domain to be forfeited, canceled, or transferred.

It’s self-evident that you won’t acquire thousands of domains with various TLDs. But at the very least, purchase names with well-known TLDs such as .biz, .org, .com, and so on. You may also purchase domains that are similar to your company’s name. If you want to conduct business in many countries, get those country-specific domains like .au, .ca, and .co.UK and so on as soon as possible. Later on, you may redirect these names to your main site.

As previously said, the domain registrant’s purpose may not always be Cybersquatting, and it may just be a chance that they purchased the domain which matches the brand name. So, before going to court or spending hundreds of dollars on legal fees, you should attempt to talk directly with the domain owner.

Conclusion

Now you have a clear idea of what Cybersquatting is all about. You should be aware of it and the negative consequences that it can create. Then you can stay away from the negative effects of Cybersquatting.


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