Typosquatting Impact

dot com imageTyposquatting is a pervasive and lucrative practice, a form of cybersquatting for profit also called URL hijacking.  While most large businesses like WordPress.com do act to protect their brands by registering possible misspellings of their trademarks and brands, those who own smaller businesses are often unaware such protective measures can be taken until it is too late.

“Typosquatting is the practice of registering domain names that are misspellings of website addresses and profiting from it by selling the domain, or capitalizing on the domain’s traffic through Google ads and/or selling products/services not related to the original brand. — Cybele Negris in Domain Typosquatting is Big Business

Authors Tyler Moore and Benjamin Edelman of  Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences  describe how pervasive typosquatting is and who exactly is raking in the cash from it in Measuring the Perpetrators and Funders of Typosquatting (PDF file)

Some excerpts:

“At least 938,000 typosquatting domains target the top 3264 .COM sites, and we [the authors] crawl more than 285,000 of these domains to analyze their revenue sources. We find that 80% are supported by, often advertising the correctly spelled domain and its competitors. Another 20% include static redirection to other sites.”

57% of typo sites include Google pay-per-click ads. Combining our observations with financial reports and others’ estimates, we conclude that Google’s revenue from typosquatting on the top 100,000 sites is $497 million per year.”

“From crawling typosquatting pages, we confirmed two main uses for traffic di-
verted to typo domains: placing pay-per-click ads and redirecting to other (often competing) domains. … We saw three practices in this  vein: (i) self-registrations/defensive registrations, (ii) affilliate marketing and (iii) redirect or link to competing site. … We suspect typosquatting will continue so long as advertisers and ad networks continue to fuel and fund these practices.”

Cybersquatters may have a variety of intentions. The most common goal is to hold the domain hostage, so to speak, and name a ransom price at which the squatter hopes to sell it to the company, trademark holder, organization, or individual. Cybersquatters also simply try to garner visitors to their Web sites by exploiting a popular name, either to expand the audience for their own message or product or to boost their advertising revenue. — Cybersquatting

If you are a small business owner be aware of Typosquatting and consider taking protective measures.

“Your Contact Information is the single-most prized piece of data for hijackers searching for ways to infringe upon your domain names. At the time of registering your domain, ensure that you provide all your personal and business details through a well-secured medium. Ensure that in case of any change in the contact information, you update it immediately with your registrar.” — Defensive Domain Registration

Microsoft has done extensive research on typosquatting and cybersquatting, and has developed a tool called Strider Typo-Patrol. Using browser plug-ins, typosquatted and cybersquatted domain names can be blocked from resolving on a user’s computer (or at least from displaying ads).  Strider URL Tracer also enables parents to block typo-squatting domains that serve adult ads on typos of children’s Web sites.

Related post found in this blog:
How and why to get your own domain
Bloggers get your own domain
Self hosting: What’s your hurry?

8 thoughts on “Typosquatting Impact

  1. Hello timethief:

    Here’sa cruel example of typosquatting. Notice the letter ‘i’ in this fake Paypal link.
    I actually got an e-mail about my Paypal account. There’s one thing; I don’t have a Paypal account! It’s a scam no doubt.

    [spammy link removed by timethief]

    1. Yes, this is a scam that’s been going on for a long time. I removed the link without clicking it. Do not click these kind of links. Mark such emails as spam and block the senders.

  2. That could be very annoying as these typosuatters could end up beating your own results on google.
    Still if it makes money i cant see it stopping anytime soon

  3. Somebody register two blog on wp.com with this domain “http://en.forum.wordpress.com/” and “id.forum.wordpress.com” (“forum” without “s” and actually there’s no space betwen point and word “com”).
    Based on your description, I categorize it as typosquatting. What is your opinion?
    I often get lost into these two blog, when I actually wanted to go to the forum wp.com (Indonesian forums and English forusm).

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