Website and domain spoofing is a widespread form of cyber crime aimed at stealing personal information such as account credentials or credit card information. Website spoofing can be used tricking the victim into sending money to the attacker, or downloading malware.
In general, spoofing attacks are designed to get users interacting with a malicious or fake website / email as if this were the legitimate one. In real life, domain spoofing can be compared to forging passports or ID cards. Cyber criminals present a fake identity in order to gain advantages. In the following blog post we will tell you how domain and website spoofing can look like in practice with a more detailed explanation of the different spoofing methods.
URL & Website Spoofing
Website spoofing is a method that makes use of the free availability of domain names. The attackers try to create a website with an URL that is very similar to that of a legitimate website and thus has the potential to deceive users. The websites are often very similar or even copied. Most of the regular users of your website will hardly notice this scam.
To impersonate a URL, attackers use characters from other languages or Unicode characters. These look very similar to ASCII characters. Many spoofed URLs add or replace regularly used characters in the URL, which the attacker hopes the users will not notice. Replacing the domain extension is also frequently used to imitate other websites.
Examples for URL-Spoofing:
- Original: Domainspace.io
- Fake: Domainspace.com
- Fake: Domainspace24.io
- Fake: Domainsspace.io
- Fake: Domaïspace.io → Unicode characters were put in place of the letter “i”.
As you can see, there is an endless flood of domain names that can easily be used to deceive users. In this way, any website operator can become a victim of an URL spoofing attack. Appropriate protection for business-critical websites is therefore strongly recommended! You can find some real examples of domain spoofing here…
Email domain spoofing is a tactic in which fake emails are sent to customers of the website to be damaged using a similar domain name. The aim is to mislead the victims and induce them to hand over login or payment information. In addition, the recipients could also be redirected to a spoofed website – see previous paragraph. Oftentimes, website spoofing and email spoofing go hand in hand and are part of a larger plan.
- Email spoofing using cousin domains
Cousin domains are domain names that are very similar to the actual (real) domain. Usually either an extra letter is built in the domain name or “.net” is used instead of “.com”.
- Forgery of the exact domain / sender name
In a so-called phishing attack, the email is forged in such a way that it looks as if the message actually came from the original domain. With this method, attackers usually pursue the goal of convincing those affected to click on a website URL, which often falls into the category of website spoofing.
Domain spoofing risks for advertisers
Domain spoofing is also a widespread nuisance in the field of advertising. Domain spoofing for advertisers is a procedure in the bidding process through which fraudsters display low-quality ads as high-quality or premium sites. It is therefore particularly important for you as a company that you have a constant overview of the keywords and brand names used in currently registered domains. This is the only way to effectively combat advertising domain spoofing.
How to protect yourself against website spoofing as a company on the Internet
Unfortunately, there is no reliable way to completely prevent website spoofing. Since the registration of similar domains is open to everyone, it is difficult as a company to achieve 100% protection against domain spoofing. Protection against spoofing attacks can therefore only be limited to the timely detection of grievances and various preventive measures.
This is precisely why we have developed special services for website operators and companies that detect spoofing at an early stage and give you the chance to act quickly. Enclosed you will find an overview of the possible protective measures against domain and website spoofing.
Risk analysis and precautionary domain registration:
A thorough analysis of the risk in each individual case is essential. For some companies and websites, there is an extremely high risk that requires action, while others only need to take a few or no action at all. We at Domainspace will be happy to determine the risk of a spoofing attack for you in advance. We also give you tips on which domain names are absolutely in need of protection. For example, it can happen that the company XYZ.com should definitely register the domains XYZ.de or XYZ24.com in order to prevent website spoofing more reliably. If you have any further questions about the security report, please contact our sales team.
The Zone Scan is another protection services from Domainspace. Based on an one-time scan, we check the existing domain landscape for domains that use your company name or keyword. The Zone Scan often detects ongoing spoofing fraud and you can take active action against it.
Keyword and trademark monitoring:
Since the Zone Scan is only a one-time service, permanent monitoring of the domain landscape is also important. Our keyword monitoring offers you permanent monitoring of your desired keyword / brand name. As soon as a new domain is registered, which contains your monitored keywords, you will receive a notification from us. This allows you to act quickly against spoofing attacks.
Domain Trademark Protection:
The Trademark Protection is the ideal solution for registered word marks. Your trademark ownership data is stored in a central database. If someone tries to register a domain with your brand name, a warning message is issued stating that this term is already protected. If the registration process continues despite this warning, you will immediately receive a message with the registrant’s details. Legal steps are thus significantly simplified!
In addition, the Trademark Protection offers privileged access to new registrations. All new registries must offer a “sunrise phase” during the introduction of a new “open” gTLD in order to protect the rights of the trademark owners. In this phase, trademark owners can – depending on the guidelines of the respective registry – register their trademark domains before anyone else.
Do you have any further questions about the topic or our services? Contact us using our contact form!