- by David Goldstein -
Counterfeit goods online are bad for the consumer. They buy products that are inferior. For brands, their reputation can be damaged through the inferior counterfeit products. To attempt to thwart these malicious online shops the Dutch registry, SIDN, teamed up with Currence, another Dutch company with internet security at its core, to do an initial detection study of websites using .nl domain names.
Like many country code top-level domain (ccTLD) registries, SIDN devotes a lot of time and effort to getting malicious webshops taken down. To start the initial detection study concentrated on websites using .nl domain names offering hand gels and facemasks to the public. Checking all websites using .nl domain names manually just wouldn’t be possible. And since the Coronavirus pandemic started, these websites offering hand gels and facemasks have been springing up like mushrooms as the healthcare sector has been struggling with shortages. It wasn't immediately apparent whether the webshops in question would be legitimate.
For the study, domain names were checked, websites scanned and a list of domains with webshops using the iDEAL logo, a logo on websites representing a secure and safe payment solution in the Netherlands provided by Currence, was compiled. Trade Register numbers and contact information were also checked to see if they were real.
Even though SIDN can disable a fake webshop, the scammers can easily set up a new one so teaming up with Currence was beneficial. Efforts to stop fraud are more effective if you can stop the fraudsters taking payments. After all, as SIDN note, every malicious webshop needs a domain name and a payment system. Without a domain name, a scam site isn't findable and without a payment mechanism it can't take your money. Therefore a robust strategy for tackling fake webshops should look at both of those things. This study was the first step towards that goal.
Going forward, SIDN have now developed relationships with other organisations, such as with the Netherlands Consumer Authority, that will make them better placed to act against fake webshops in the future. There are also technical lessons learned and questions going forward include how best to scale up the approach, how to better use visual detection for finding sites that use accreditation logos, for instance, and developing their relationship with Currence. In the autumn, when hopefully life starts to return to normal SIDN hopes to take time to brainstorm without any distractions to take forward the detection of fake webshops using .nl domain names.