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Be Careful What You Type – By Barbara Laing and Pamela Heatley
If you are on the Internet, you are a target for hackers. That’s a plain and simple fact. Bad guys want to steal confidential information, compromise the integrity of your network, or shut down the availability of emergency services. You have to be your own best protection.
One way to do that is to be aware of scams that prey on our common mistakes. Krebs on Security reported a scam that capitalizes on typos. We all make them. It’s only human, right? Unfortunately, a simple typo entered into your browser while looking for a webpage can lead you to a dangerous place. You could encounter Typosquatting – it’s a funny name for a not-so-funny scam.
Hackers target popular websites by registering domain names that are similar to the legitimate name – but with a commonly made typo. So now, when you make your typo, instead of getting the usual 404 messages, you end up on a fake site.
In a recent version of this scam, hackers take a popular web destination and replace the (dot) com with a common typo, (dot) cm. Security experts say there are over a thousand (dot)cm domains. It is considered the riskiest domain in the world with over 40% of the sites posing a security threat to PCs.
According to Krebs, almost 12 million people have mistyped (dot)com and ended up on one of these (dot)cm domains. That’s almost 12 million users bombarded with malware alerts, misleading messages, locked up computers and sometimes prompts to enter a password or other information.
The good news is, you can avoid ending up on one of these sites by remembering a few simple tips.
- Use a preset bookmark instead of typing a website address directly into your web browser.
- If you do type it in, remember don’t even trust your own typing skills. Double check the address bar to make sure the address you’ve entered is correct.
- When you enter a URL, enter it completely. Don’t rely on your computer’s autofill function. It could repeat a typo you’ve already made.
Typos, we all make them but there’s no reason a simple mistake should turn into a disaster. Be careful what you type.