New Olympic sport: typo squatting

What with the Olympic Games playing out across the pond, lots of people are hungry for up-to-the-minute news about the events and athletes, so they head straight for the official website—or they try to, at least. But if they make any mistakes while typing in the URL, they might end up on a fake page instead, where spammers are happy to offer many wonderful ads for their clicking pleasure.

Last week Zscaler, a cloud security company*, reported that 80% of all Internet domain names that contain the string “olympics” are actually scams or spam, and many of these domains are incidents of typo squatting. That’s when a spammer registers a website with a URL that is extremely similar to the real one but with deliberate misspellings designed to catch careless typists. Zscaler’s sample list includes the following fake sites, which I advise you not to visit:

cnbcolympics.com (extra c)

nbcolympic.com (missing s in olympics)

wwwnbcolympics.com (missing dot between www and nbcolympics.com)

msnolympics.com (msn instead of nbc)

nbolympics.com (missing c in nbc)

nbcolympics.org (.org instead of .com)

nnbcolympics.com (two ns in nbc)

mbcolympics.com (m instead of n in nbc)

ncbolympics.com (c and b inverted in nbc)

Of course, the fact that some websites are scams isn’t exactly news to anyone who’s spend more than, oh, five minutes on the Internet. But given that the Games are such a hot topic at the moment, I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to tie them to the need for better proofreading. By typing carelessly, you could be putting money in the pocket of a scam artist. So do the right thing and mind your URLs.

* That’s how Zscaler describes itself on the company website. I know the slogan refers to cloud computing, but I prefer to think that they sell trained attack clouds that will guard your home. I’d buy one of those, wouldn’t you?

One thought on “New Olympic sport: typo squatting

  1. For what it’s worth: CNBC does have articles about the Olympics on its website (cnbc.com). I’m not, however, going to type the URL from the above list into my browser to test it out. Instead, I’ll copy the actual link where I’m reading (on my other monitor).

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/48212442

    I probably shouldn’t be surprised that some scammer’s using CNBC for nefarious purposes. I just fail at being nefarious, personally.

    Like

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