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  • Emma Lake Boydston

Geek Speak: Typosquatting

One trick scammers use is to imitate a real website. The hope is that you not recognize the difference and provide your login credentials or other personal information. And one way they do this is to mimic the read web address. Creating a website domain that is nearly identical to another is called “typosquatting”. This can be as simple as making a word plural (bestbuys.com instead of bestbuy.com), changing the ending (amazon.net instead of amazon.com), or swapping out similar-looking letters (wa1mart.com instead of walmart.com). But the bad guys are getting even more nefarious: they are using foreign alphabet characters that are nearly imperceptible from the English look-alikes. For example, the Cyrillic letter “a” (used in the Russian language) is identical in appearance to the Latin letter “a” (used in English), but computers treat them as two completely different characters. Modern browsers help warn you when you visit a possible typosquatting website, but they aren’t perfect. So if you ever get the feeling that you may not be on a legitimate website, first double check the address is exactly correct.



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