Cyber-squatting and phishing attacks on the rise

A study carried out by brand specialist MarkMonitor has reported that abuse of the World's top brands, through practices such as cyber-squatting and phishing, is rising.

The most common form of abuse is still cyber-squatting, where someone registers a domain name with the aim of selling it on at a later date, which rose by 18% in 2008 with 1,722,133 incidents reported.

However, phishing attacks, where website replicates another to try and acquire a person's private information, rose a massive 122% in the second half of 2008. Attacks on financial services rose 51% within the same period.

Talking to the BBC, Frederick Felman, chief marketing officer for MarkMonitor, said that 80% of sites identified as "abusive" in 2007 are still functioning today. "That 80% of sites identified in our study last year remain active today confirms that abuse is economically sustainable for fraudsters," he said. "We expect attacks to grow both internationally and in complexity, further increasing the threat to organisations' reputations and revenues."

The report also found that the majority of illegal sites are hosted in the United States, Germany and the UK.

Eddy Willems, a security analyst for Kaspersky Lab, said that fraudsters rely on people making mistakes, "They know users will mistype. They look out for domains that they can use to trick people.

"The only thing you can do is be vigilant, and make sure you have security protection installed on your computer."

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This type of stuff will only increase as the internet becomes even more popular. People just need to be wise when browsing.

Cyber-squatting = Sedo and the like.

I accidentally let one of my domains expire a few years back, and within a day it had been bought by Sedo, and had one of those search engine sites sitting on it, with a "make me an offer" link. Disgusting really.

Sedo didn't buy your domain. Someone else bought it and parked it at Sedo. It's not cyber-squatting if the name isn't trademarked and it wasn't a phishing site because they didn't try to trick anyone into believing it was your original site to steal your data. If you forgot to pay your reg fees on time you just learned a lesson. I never let my domains come close to expiration.

You may be right, but the truth of the matter is that had I not registered that domain myself, then it would still be available right now. The only reason they have it now is because they saw that I had it, and pounced at the opportunity to make a quick buck selling it back to me.

As it happens, the domain was for a dead project of mine so was of no consequence (hence why I forgot to renew it), however the tactics involved are what is wrong here, not the specifics of who owns it.