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Noticed a typo? It could be typosquatting

Have you ever clicked a link to a website, and noticed that the URL doesn’t look quite right? You could have been a victim of typosquatting. Here’s everything you need to know about typosquatting, and how to avoid falling for it.

What is typosquatting?

Typosquatting, URL hijacking, or typojacking as it is sometimes known, is a phishing technique used to gain personal information from victims, such as banking information or login details.

Phishers purchase a domain with a url that looks very similar to a well-known website; something like google, amazon or outlook, but with a single letter changed. Sometimes this looks like a regular typo, like adding an extra ‘o’ in outlook, and sometimes a letter has been replaced with a latin ‘o’ so the website appears to be the same. 

For a victim looking at the website URL, it might appear to be legitimate. Even once clicked, this website might be a strong imitation of the site they were expecting, ensuring that the victim doesn’t catch onto the fact that they are on a phishing website.

The fake website can then be loaded with malware, which is installed onto the victim’s device without them knowing once the link is clicked. It could also prompt victims to enter their login details, which would provide phishers with information they could then sell or use to access a victim’s accounts. 

What is targeted typosquatting?

Targeted typosquatting is where a domain is used that closely resembles your business’ URL. The same techniques are employed here; a letter is changed so that the URL looks as close to your website URL as possible. 

Instead of sending this link to victims directly, the URL is used to masquerade as a person from within your business, often a manager. This can then add legitimacy to a bank fraud scam, where a staff member is emailed by a phisher pretending to be a director or manager (from a seemingly ‘correct’ email address) and encouraged to send a fraudulent payment.

How can you protect yourself from typosquatting?

With typosquatting, it can be difficult to ascertain whether the link is legitimate or not by looking at it, and once you’ve clicked the link, it’s too late. However, there are precautions that you can take.

The first is to ensure that you don’t click links in emails to well-known sites like amazon or google. Access these sites yourself by typing in the URL, and make sure you don’t make any typos in the process! 

You can also ensure that everyone in your business understands the process for bank transfers. Having a procedure which involves multiple people, and ideally, requiring a conversation over the phone, can stop you and your business from falling victim to these kinds of scams.

Finally, think about software. Office 365 can notify you when someone is contacting you from outside of your business, offering that extra layer of protection from targeted typosquatting. Transcendit can help you set up Office 365, and discuss anti-virus/anti-malware options for your business, which can help identify when you’re visiting a malicious site. You could also make sure that you have browser protection enabled.

Worried about phishing? Give us a call on 0191 482 0444


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