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Preventing Typosquatting: How to Minimize the Harm to your Brand
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Along with all the threats to your brand, is a form of Cyber Squatting known as Typosquatting. This tactic pretty much relies on the chance that someone will spell your URL incorrectly and will allow the squatter to rob your brand of traffic, credibility and your bottom line. In order to protect your brand you need to be aware of the scenarios where these squatters will take advantage of the misspellings of your URL.

So, the main question is how does a brand protect itself from such threats. What can you do to minimize this threat and protect your brand?

When buying a domain from a domain provider such as GoDaddy, run a check on all the common URL misspellings and buy those domains in addition. The reason for this is you want to protect your brand from getting hijacked and stealing your traffic by pointing people to their phony URL of your counterfeited products for example, one with high resolution photos that they probably also stole from your website.

Viruses and Hijack Based Typosquatting

For example, a typosquatter might buy the domain name yahooo.com, only to have visitors go there and infect their computers with malicious spyware trojans, backdoors and a host of other threats. The visitor will unsuspectingly become a victim of having their computer hijacked.

Misspellings

An effective way of finding the most commonly misspelt variations of your domain name is to type your domain name as quickly as possible many times into a spreadsheet (100 x should work unless your fingers get tired). Sort them according to how many instances and you should deduce that after the correct typed URLs the most mistyped ones are the most common misspellings of your domain.

Singular and Plural Versions

Purchasing Two Versions of your Domains To start, you should consider buying both the plural and singular version of your domain name. Another is to consider purchasing the name of your domain, both hyphenated and not hyphenated versions. This can also have SEO advantages. Your website might get  placed in an adult category if you only register motorcyclesexpo.com as it might get parsed as motorcycle-sex-po.com instead of motorcycles-expo.com.

The Most Common Domain Extensions

Purchase the most used domain extensions such as .org, .net and .com at minimum. Also you may want to check if there are any related new gTLDs to purchase that may tie in with what your site is offering.

A study made in 2014 that was jointly conducted by researchers at Leuven, a Belgian University and Stony Brook university in the US is considered to be the first study of typosquatting that is based on content.

The amount of data that was pored over was intense, 900GB of it to be exact. This data was extracted from over 3.3 million web pages and over 424,000 unique WHOIS records which was gathered over 7 months. When the study was concluded it was found that despite the fact that 95% of the popular domains investigated were actively targeted for typosquatting, very few of the legitimate trademark holders protected themselves again typosquatting by being proactive and registering their own misspelt domains.

The study went further in identifying the domains with the most proactive defensive registrations. The Huffington Post (.com) came out of on top with 57 registrations. American Express (.com) had 42 and Bloomberg (.com) had 39. What is alarming is that out of three top banks, only Bank Of America had registrations considered defensive.

I hope you choose to follow the tipcs above that will give you a strong proactive defense mechanism against becoming the victime of TypoSquatting.

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Alon Gilat

Product manager at BrandShield LTD.
"The Future of Online Brand Protection is Here". Our robust, patent pending technology helps you fight infringements and makes brand protection affordable for organizations of all sizes.


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