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How Domain Name Typo-Squatters are Gaming Google

In a recent article, eWeek reports on researchers at Microsoft revealing large-scale, typo-squatting schemes that use "multi-layer URL redirection to game Google's AdSense for domains program". According to this report, the Microsoft Research Systems Management Research Group succeeded in tracking a ring of typo-squatters registering misspelled domain names that generated traffic for serving advertising from Google.

The report from Microsoft Research highlights the following points in its "Overview and Preliminaries" section:

  • One billion web users are collectively making a huge number of URL typos everyday. Imagine that a typo-squatter hijacks 15% of all typo traffic. That's equivalent to owning a very popular (virtual) web site in terms of the amount of traffic that can be used to drive advertising revenue. For users that hate typo-squatting, they may not even know the typo-squatter and the parking service who are actually behind the squatting; all they know is that the advertisers that appear on the typo pages are somehow involved in the typo-squatting act and those advertisers are paying money for all this.

  • The Strider Typo-Patrol System is an extension of the Strider HoneyMonkey Exploit Detection System. It is part of our ongoing effort in providing automatic and systematic web scans to discover and investigate questionable web sites in order to protect Internet users. The primary goal of Strider Typo-Patrol is to understand the practice of typo-squatting and to protect the Internet from typo-squatting-based...
  • So far, we have not found any exploit sites hosted on typo-squatting domains. But we have developed a method to automatically discover major typo-squatters that are performing large-scale, systematic typo-squatting...
  • Some potential typo-squatting domains move around between domain parking services or between anchor domains over time...
  • Almost all of the potential typo-squatting domains mentioned on this page are registered to the same company...

"...I'm not going to "judge" this business, but clearly it's a large business that is becoming exceedingly complex with some cat-and-mouse going on," Says Joi Ito in a related post on his weblog. "One thing I wonder about is whether there is a whole lot of incentive for the cat to catch the mouse if the cat gets a share of the mouse's take."

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