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Hackers Cybersquat on Hundreds of Luxury Fashion Brand Domains

DomainTools identifies over 500 websites tricking web users into thinking they’re clicking on to luxury fashion websites.

Seattle – DomainTools, a domain name and DNS-based cyber threat intelligence company, today released research looking at how cybersquatters are currently targeting global luxury fashion brands. DomainTools found 538 registered domains using the trademarked names of eight of the world’s leading fashion brands.

Cybersquatting is the practice of purchasing domains with the intent of stealing internet traffic from a well-known brand or individual. These domains are often used in phishing email campaigns and various other kinds of scams including pay-per-click ads, for-profit survey sites and social media scams to trick customers into handing over personal details and money for a product.

Following on from its research conducted with Farsight Security on “Luxury Brands, Cheap Domains: Why Retailers Are Losing the Fight Against Online Counterfeiting” the DomainTools research team analyzed domains mimicking Cartier, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Hermes, Chanel, Prada and Gucci using its PhishEye tool. PhishEye allows users to search for existing and new domains that spoof legitimate brand, product, organization, or other names. In total, there were 538 domains identified as high risk that contained the brand names. Some examples include:

  • giivenchy.com
  • louisvuiitton.us
  • burberryyuk.com
  • chamel.us
  • louisvitton.com
  • cartierwatches.me
  • hermes-bag.us
  • ptada.com
  • gwcci.com

“The ease of creating a domain is great for the average person looking to start their own website but it is a never-ending nuisance for brands that have to monitor for domain squatters. The bigger and more lucrative your brand, the more of a target you become for cyber criminals,” said Tim Helming, Director, Product Management at DomainTools. “Many companies tackle this by proactively buying domain names that are similar to their own name with help from tools like our PhishEye product. It’s a relatively cheap insurance policy to keep pesky cybersquatters from benefiting by appropriating your brand and helps to keep consumers safe, too.”

DomainTools offers top tips for consumers to avoid falling afoul of a spoofed website:

  • Watch out for domains that have COM-[text] in them, ex. www.starbucks.com-latte.us. We're so accustomed to seeing .com that we can easily overlook the extra text that's appended to it with a dash.
  • Look for typos on the website, coupon, or link that is directing you – for example, check for extra added letters in the domain, such as Yahooo[.]com.
  • Look out for ‘rn’ disguised as an ‘m’, such as modem.com versus modern.com.
  • Verify that the link is what it purports to be by hovering over the link and examining the pop-up text.
  • Realise that if something seems too good to be true, it likely is.
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