Government Technology

Personal Computing: Cybersquatting and Its Remedies



September 28, 2009 By

In addition to the tremendous amount of good that it has created, the Internet has also created its fair share of bad, along with those only too eager to cross the line and take unethical or unlawful advantage of others.

One of the more curious examples of Internet misbehavior this year celebrated its ten-year anniversary of being officially recognized. Cybersquatting, the using of a "domain name" for a Web site that rightfully belongs to someone else, was made illegal by the 1999 Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.

A domain name is a Web site's address expressed in an individual and memorable way, typically using words or names, such as "yourname.com." Companies and other organizations often use their trademarked name in their Web site's domain name.

Cybersquatters register domain names in hope of forcing a company or individual to buy it from them (at a huge profit), to gain online advertising revenue resulting from Web surfers mistakenly going to a fake site instead of a genuine one, and even as a "phishing" tool to trick surfers into revealing credit card and other personal financial information in order to steal from them.

Some of the findings of a new study about cybercrime in general by Symantec, maker of Internet security software, are startling:

  • Cybercrime has been roughly doubling each year since 2003, with roughly one in five people online having been victimized in some way.
  • Those behind cybercrime, typically, are no longer teenage hackers using their skills for mischief but career criminals along the lines of the Mafia.
  • Cybercriminals are primarily after your money. One-third of items advertised on the Internet black market is stolen credit card information, which sell for anywhere between $.06 and $30 per card, depending on how much information is included. Bank account information accounts for one fifth of Internet black market items advertised.
  • For those victimized by identity theft such as stolen credit card information, the time needed to rectify matters averages 58 hours.

Reports like these issued by those selling protective products tend to emphasize worst-case scenarios. Instead of being a time-sapping hassle, recovering from the theft of credit card information may simply involve getting issued a new credit card and updating your information with any online vendors and payment services you use.

Still, being a savvy consumer means being aware of the potential downside; using up-to-date Internet security software; keeping your operating system, Web browser, and other programs up to date; and knowing the security threats that are out there.

Despite being outlawed ten years ago, cybersquatting unfortunately is still alive and well. The numbers in fact can seem astronomical. The telecommunications and broadband company Verizon Communications has had to shut down thousands of sites using domain names that were related to its businesses.

Because of numbers like this, it can take a while for a brand owner to find and go after bogus sites, according to a recent study by Mark Monitor, a domain registrar that also monitors domain-name abuse for corporate clients. The study found that 80 percent of abusive sites identified in 2007 were still active more than a year later.

Along with well-known companies such as Verizon and Microsoft, another frequent target of cybersquatters are celebrities such as rock star Bruce Springsteen and actor Kevin Spacey. But anybody can become a victim.

Companies and individuals can monitor the Web themselves for instances of cybersquatting. At the simplest, use Google to search for relevant terms. DomainTools lets you do various kinds of more specialized searches related to domain names. At the high end, "


| More

Comments

Add Your Comment

You are solely responsible for the content of your comments. We reserve the right to remove comments that are considered profane, vulgar, obscene, factually inaccurate, off-topic, or considered a personal attack.

In Our Library

White Papers | Exclusives Reports | Webinar Archives | Best Practices and Case Studies
Maintain Your IT Budget with Consistent Compliance Practices
Between the demands of meeting federal IT compliance mandates, increasing cybersecurity threats, and ever-shrinking budgets, it’s not uncommon for routine maintenance tasks to slip among state and local government IT departments. If it’s been months, or even only days, since you have maintained your systems, your agency may not be prepared for a compliance audit—and that could have severe financial consequences. Regardless of your mission, consistent systems keep your data secure, your age
Best Practice Guide for Cloud and As-A-Service Procurements
While technology service options for government continue to evolve, procurement processes and policies have remained firmly rooted in practices that are no longer effective. This guide, built upon the collaborative work of state and local government and industry executives, outlines and explains the changes needed for more flexible and agile procurement processes.
Fresh Ideas In Online Security for Public Safety Organizations
Lesley Carhart, Senior Information Security Specialist at Motorola Solutions, knows that online and computer security are more challenging than ever. Personal smartphones, removable devices like USB storage drives, and social media have a significant impact on security. In “Fresh Ideas in Online Security for Public Safely Organizations,” Lesley provides recommendations to improve your online security against threats from social networks, removable devices, weak passwords and digital photos.
View All

Featured Papers