What Is Cybersquatting?
Cybersquatting is the practice of the unauthorized registration of a domain name that is identical or very similar to well-known brand names, company names, personal names, trademarks or service marks, in particular using very well-known brand names or companies, usually under the hope to resell them to the trademark or name owner for a profit.
Cybersquatters use domain name registrations with bad faith intent to profit from the hard work and reputation of the actual trademark owner.
There are various forms of cybersquatting, including typosquatting, which involves including typos or misspellings in the domain name so that internet users who accidentally misspell the domain name in the browser end up on the typosquatted domain visit the fake website, for example goggle.com instead of google.com.
Other scams include the website visitor being lured to the website via a phishing link which then takes them to the cybersquatted website to possibly spread malware to the visitor’s device or acquire sensitive information.
Cybersquatting is also known as domain squatting.
What do cyber squatters want to accomplish?
There’s various reasons why cybercriminals use cybersquatting.
- Use the domain name to send spam or phishing e-mails
- Use the domain name to create a website to sell counterfeit products
- Use the domain name to create a fraudulent website to give credibility to a scam or acquire sensitive information from website visitors
- Block the trademark holder from accessing the name for their website or social media handle
- Resell the registered domain name with the legitimate business or brand at an extortionate price
- Damage the reputation and image and therefore revenue income of the legitimate business or brand by associating the brand name with inappropriate content, malware or scams
- Benefit from a business or brand’s popularity to drive traffic to their own website
A lot of cybersquatters automatically monitor domain names of well-known companies and brands, hoping that they forget the renewal of their registered domain name. Once they expire, these cybercriminals come in to immediately re-register them.
How can website visitors detect cybersquatting?
- Confirm a business’s correct website address with support services or contact them directly.
- Ensure the website is safely encrypted with SSL certificates (check for the keyhole symbol next to the URL) that guarantee the secure functionality of the site.
What can you do against cybersquatting?
As a brand or business owner with a domain portfolio, protecting your domains should be one of the main priorities of your cybersecurity strategy. Protecting yourself against cybersquatter attacks is a big part of that – and our team at BrandShelter can help you.
To avoid entrapment by cybersquatters in the first place, when buying a domain name it is always helpful to cover your bases and also opt for other common top-level domains such as .biz, .org or .net. But what if an infringing domain name has already been registered?
We can help you get the contact information of the domain owners that hold your preferred internet domain name, or the ones that are engaging in trademark infringement. With our anonymous domain acquisition services, we can ensure you are not paying high amounts as your information will remain private and confidential and will not be shared with the domain name holder.
In more severe cases, domain disputes can be solved via the legal route.
One option is to file a Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) complaint with ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). As a complainant, you must prove that a domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark to which you hold the trademark rights. This procedure solves the domain dispute via arbitration rather than litigation. Additionally, in the United States, legal action can be taken under the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA). Our legal team can help support you with these proceedings.
Contact us today to find out how our brand protection services, DNS services and SSL certificates can help you protect your brand and your business from irreparable damage through cybercrime.