A man in Brazil spent more than $200,000 on typosquatting domains between November 2020 and February 2021, the Washington Post reports. Typosquatting is a phishing technique in which someone buys domains that appear very similar to the legitimate domains of popular sites, and uses them to set up phishing pages that the wary but slightly careless may be likelier to follow.
They often involve simple transpositions of letters, the kind of think anyone might do when committing a typographical error. In this case, the individual purchased domains that were similar to cryptocurrency services, such as “wwwblockchain[.]com” and “conibase[.]com,” meant to imitate Blockchain and Coinbase. The man spent $16,000 for the “conibase” domain alone.
The amount of money the person spent on these domains illustrates how lucrative phishing can be. Zack Allen, Senior Director of Threat Intelligence at ZeroFox, told the Post, “The price that this person paid blows me away.” The domains redirected users to websites containing identical copies of Coinbase’s and Blockchain’s websites, although it’s not clear if the Brazilian man set these up himself or if he sold the domains to someone else. Allen noted that the person behind the phishing sites probably used emails to distribute links to the sites.
Nick Nikiforakis, a computer science professor at Stony Brook University, told the Post that the valuable domains may be used for spear phishing, targeting the richest cryptocurrency users.
“You’re not going after me and you with a few hundred bucks in your Coinbase accounts, but people with millions of dollars in their crypto accounts,” Nikiforakis said.
More widespread phishing campaigns tend to use cheaper domains, since these sites tend to be spotted and taken down more quickly
“If I buy a .xyz [domain] for one dollar and I can make two dollars by the time someone blocks me, I’m ahead,” Nikiforakis added.
Attackers are constantly updating their arsenal to stay ahead of security technologies. New-school security awareness training can enable your employees to be vigilant for typosquatting and other social engineering techniques.
The Washington Post has the story.