Have you ever written an email that you sent out and later discovered that the email address was incorrectly spelled? You might think that email would just disappear and never be read by anyone. But according to a new Wired article, that may not be the case. Researchers from the Godai Group announced this week that it had established a number of doppelganger domains that were similar to the domains owned by real Fortune 500 companies. In just six months the group claims it received over 20 GB of data from emails that were accidentally sent to the doppelganger domains.
The domains that the Godai Group set up has just one letter or character that was different from the legitimate domains. The emails that the group received as a result of the misspellings included sensitive information like passwords, legal documents, contracts, trade secrets, network security info and more. The group received over 120,000 e-mails in this manner from the 30 doppelganger domains it created. Only one of the companies discovered that the group had established such a domain and threatened the group with legal action if it didn't give up ownership of that address, which the group said it did.
The group didn't name which companies it had received misspelled emails from via the domains it set up. However it did say that 30 percent of all Fortune 500 companies are vulnerable to such actions. It also said that a number of large companies such as Dell, HP, Yahoo, Intel and others have had similar doppelganger domains purchased by registrants in China. The group recommends that large companies secure the doppelganger domains not currently in their possession. If someone else has already bought such a domain, the company can set up blocks that would prevent employees from sending emails to those domains.