Typo squatting is a form of cyberattack that exploits the common mistakes people make when typing a website address or an email address. The attacker registers a domain name similar to a legitimate one but with a slight difference, such as a missing letter, a swapped letter, or an extra letter. For example, the attacker could register paypa1.com instead of paypal.com, or micros0ft.com instead of microsoft.com.
The attacker then uses the fake domain name to create fake websites or send fake emails that look like they came from the original source. The goal is to trick unsuspecting users into clicking on malicious links, downloading malware, or revealing sensitive information, such as passwords, credit card numbers, or bank account details.
One of the most dangerous forms of typosquatting is when the attacker tries to insert themselves into an email thread using a fake domain name. For example, suppose you are communicating with a vendor or a client via email, and you receive an invoice from them. However, the invoice is actually sent by the attacker, who has registered a domain name that looks like the vendor's or the client's but with a slight typo. The invoice may look very convincing, with the same logo, format, and signature as the original sender. However, if you look closely at the email address, you may notice that it is slightly different from the one you have used before. For example, the attacker could use email@example.com instead of firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com instead of firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you don't notice the typo and pay the invoice, you may send money to the attacker's account instead of the legitimate recipient. This could cause serious financial losses and damage your reputation and trust with your vendor or client.
How to Protect Yourself and Your Company
Typo squatting attacks can be hard to detect and prevent, but there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk and protect yourself and your company:
Always double-check the website address and the email address before you click on any link or open any attachment. Look for typos or unusual characters that indicate a fake domain name.
Use bookmarks or favorites to access frequently visited websites rather than typing them manually.
Use a reputable antivirus software and keep it updated. Scan your computer regularly for any malware or suspicious files.
Use strong passwords and change them regularly. Do not use the same password for multiple accounts or websites.
Do not share your personal or financial information with anyone via email or online forms. If you receive an email requesting such information, verify its authenticity by contacting the sender directly using a different channel, such as phone or chat.
Validate bank account details if sending money.
Educate yourself and your employees about the common signs and methods of typosquatting attacks. Create a policy and procedure for reporting and handling suspicious emails or websites.
If you have fallen victim to an email typosquatting attack - successful or not, conduct a thorough investigation of your network to verify that the bad actor has not compromised your email system or mailbox.
Typosquatting attacks are a serious threat to your online security and privacy. By being vigilant and cautious, you can avoid falling victim to these attacks and protect yourself and your company from potential harm.