Typosquatting, also called URL hijacking, a sting site, a cousin domain, or a fake URL, is a form of cybersquatting, and possibly brandjacking which relies on mistakes such as typos made by Internet users when inputting a website address into a web browser. A user accidentally entering an incorrect website address may be led to any URL, including an alternative website owned by a cybersquatter.

An incorrectly entered URL could lead to a website operated by a cybersquatter.

The typosquatter's URL will usually be similar to the victim's site address; the typosquatting site could be in the form of:

  • A misspelling, or foreign language spelling, of the intended site
  • A misspelling based on a typographical error
  • A plural of a singular domain name
  • A different top-level domain (e.g., .com instead of .org)
  • An abuse of the Country Code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) (.cm, .co, or .om instead of .com)

Similar abuses:

  • Combosquatting – no misspelling, but appending an arbitrary word that appears legitimate, but that anyone could register.
  • Doppelganger domain – omitting a period or inserting an extra period
  • Appending terms such as sucks or -suckes to a domain name

Once on the typosquatter's site, the user may also be tricked into thinking that they are actually on the real site through the use of copied or similar logos, website layouts, or content. Spam emails sometimes make use of typosquatting URLs to trick users into visiting malicious sites that look like a given bank's site, for instance.



There are several different reasons for typosquatters buying a typo domain:

  • To try to sell the typo domain back to the brand owner
  • To monetize the domain through advertising revenues from direct navigation misspellings of the intended domain
  • To redirect the typo-traffic to a competitor
  • To redirect the typo-traffic back to the brand itself, but through an affiliate link, thus earning commissions from the brand owner's affiliate program
  • As a phishing scheme to mimic the brand's site, while intercepting passwords which the visitor enters unsuspectingly[1]
  • To install drive-by malware or revenue generating adware onto the visitors' devices
  • To harvest misaddressed e-mail messages mistakenly sent to the typo domain
  • To express an opinion that is different from the intended website's opinion
  • By legitimate site owners, to block malevolent use of the typo domain by others
  • To annoy users of the intended site



Many companies, including Verizon, Lufthansa, and Lego, have gained reputations for aggressively chasing down typosquatted names. Lego, for example, has spent roughly US$500,000 on taking 309 cases through UDRP proceedings.[2]

Celebrities have also pursued their domain names. Prominent examples include basketball player Dirk Nowitzki's UDRP of DirkSwish.com[3] and actress Eva Longoria's UDRP of EvaLongoria.org.[4]

Goggle, a typosquatted version of Google, was the subject of a 2006 web safety promotion by McAfee, a computer security company, which depicted the significant amounts of malware installed through drive-by downloads upon accessing the site at the time. Goggle installed SpySheriff. Later, the URL was redirected to google.com;[5] a 2018 check revealed it to redirect users to adware pages, and a 2020 attempt to access the site through a private DNS resolver hosted by AdGuard resulted in the page being identified as malware and blocked for the user's security. By mid-2022, it had been turned into a political blog.

Another example of corporate typosquatting is yuube.com, targeting YouTube users by programming that URL to redirect to a malicious website or page that asks users to add a malware "security check extension".[6] Similarly, www.airfrance.com has been typosquatted by www.arifrance.com, diverting users to a website peddling discount travel (although it now redirects to a warning from Air France about malware).[7] Other examples are equifacks.com (Equifax.com), experianne.com (Experian.com), and tramsonion.com (TransUnion.com); these three typosquatted sites were registered by comedian John Oliver for his show Last Week Tonight.[8][9] Over 550 typosquats related to the 2020 U.S. presidential election were detected in 2019.[10]

The Magniber ransomware is being distributed in a typosquatting method that exploits typos made when entering domains, targeting mainly Chrome and Edge users.[11]

In United States law


In the United States, the 1999 Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) contains a clause (Section 3(a), amending 15 USC 1117 to include sub-section (d)(2)(B)(ii)) aimed at combatting typosquatting.[12][13]

On April 17, 2006, evangelist Jerry Falwell failed to get the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision allowing Christopher Lamparello to use www.fallwell.com. Relying on a plausible misspelling of Falwell's name, Lamparello's gripe site presents misdirected visitors with scriptural references that are intended to counter the fundamentalist preacher's scathing rebukes against homosexuality. In Lamparello v. Falwell, the high court let stand a 2005 Fourth Circuit opinion that "the use of a mark in a domain name for a gripe site criticizing the markholder does not constitute cybersquatting."

WIPO resolution procedure


Under the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP), trademark holders can file a case at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) against typosquatters (as with cybersquatters in general).[7] The complainant has to show that the registered domain name is identical or confusingly similar to their trademark, that the registrant has no legitimate interest in the domain name, and that the domain name is being used in bad faith.[7]

See also



  1. ^ Claes, Bell (August 17, 2015). "'Typosquatting': How 1 Mistyped Letter Could Lead to ID Theft". Bankrate. Archived from the original on August 20, 2015.
  2. ^ Allemann, Andrew (November 1, 2011). "Has Lego's $500k Spent on URDP Been a Waste?". Domain Name Wire. Archived from the original on November 2, 2011.
  3. ^ Allemann, Andrew (September 12, 2011). "Dallas Mavericks Star Dirk Nowitzki Wins Dispute Over Domain Name". Domain Name Wire. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011.
  4. ^ Allemann, Andrew (May 5, 2011). "Eva Longoria Adds .Org to Her Collection". Domain Name Wire. Archived from the original on May 7, 2011.
  5. ^ Allemann, Andrew (August 23, 2011). "Google Wants to Take Down Goggle.com Web Site". Domain Name Wire. Archived from the original on August 25, 2011.
  6. ^ Gopalakrishnan, Chandu (May 5, 2010). "Your Spelling Errors Can Help Typosquatters Make Big Bucks". The Economic Times. Archived from the original on August 12, 2011.
  7. ^ a b c Slavitt, Kelly M. (March 26, 2008). "Protecting Your Intellectual Property from Domain Name Typosquatters". FindLaw. Archived from the original on July 26, 2013.
  8. ^ Debter, Lauren (April 16, 2016). "John Oliver Takes Aim At Credit Reports In 'Last Week Tonight'". Forbes. Retrieved July 17, 2023.
  9. ^ Durkin, J. D. (April 11, 2016). "John Oliver Creates Fake Web Sites to Troll Major Three Credit Bureaus". Mediaite. Archived from the original on April 14, 2016.
  10. ^ Riper, Harrison van (October 16, 2019). "Typosquatting and the 2020 U.S. Presidential election". Digital Shadows. Archived from the original on September 4, 2021. Retrieved September 4, 2021.
  11. ^ MalBot (October 25, 2022). "Rapidly Evolving Magniber Ransomware". malware.news. Archived from the original on May 4, 2024. Retrieved November 16, 2022.
  12. ^ "S. 1255 – Trademark Cyberpiracy Prevention Act". Archived from the original on September 21, 2018.
  13. ^ Metz, Cade (October 23, 2008). "Without Typo-squatters, How Far Would Google Fall?". The Register. Archived from the original on October 24, 2008.