Brand Protection

2017 – Perspectives on Cybercrime and Domain Names

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January 9, 2017

By jbourne

cybercrimeWith the New Year upon us, we at FairWinds and CADNA are excited to see the many opportunities that technology will bring to businesses like yours during the course of 2017; but, at the same time, we—as you too must be—are concerned about recent incidences of criminal hacking and cybercrime, both state-sponsored and non-state, that are being reported with increasing frequency in world news.

It is now widely understood that a typo domain name, meant to look confusingly similar to a fundraising site for the US democratic party, was the means by which hackers accessed that party’s network and, some say, changed the outcome of the recent US presidential election.


Cybercrime on the Rise According to Recent Study

In our most recent study, we looked at how the practice of typosquatting is impacting top retailers and found an alarming amount of malicious content.

According to this study, 39% of the typos that garner traffic are delivering phishing, ransomware, and download malware via fast flux DNS, a dangerous website deployment system.  In my two decades of experience working with trademark owners, this is the first time that I have seen such a high rate of cybersquatted or typosquatted domains involved in the dissemination of malicious scams.

Scammers are using trademark-rooted domains to cause more harm than ever before, and their bolder cybercrime activities touch more than consumer retail companies and their customers.  We have observed the same worrisome trend in our analyses of similarly constructed datasets across virtually all industry sectors, but financial services and healthcare in particular.


Effective Approaches to Dealing with Cybercrime

While the problems are daunting, I know that we can do better to protect online audiences, as well as defend brands and profits.  One approach would be to develop policies that provide law enforcement and intellectual property owners with a better toolkit to combat these threats.  The CADNA organization is trying to do just this via its role as trusted advisor to relevant committees on Capitol Hill and is well positioned to advance anti-cybersquatting legislation now given the current environment in Washington.

Since policy solutions are macro and long-term in nature, a necessary, complementary approach to combating these threats is through well-considered and targeted enforcement.  When reviewing the daily tally of new UDRP decisions, I frequently see too many wasted dollars spent scooping up worthless, benign domains.  Brands can take care of the most pressing problems with far fewer actions through applying a data-driven analytical approach to limited, yet more effective, enforcement.


Will .FOX Guard the Henhouse?

Branded gTLDs offer a new, exciting method of combating cybercrime and bolstering consumer confidence in the internet because they symbolize the trust we have in brands. However, since more time is required for them to become universally known and understood, and because not all brands have their own secure space, it is important to support the aforementioned approaches to foiling cyber criminals’ plans to misuse brand names at the legislative and brand protection levels.


Cybercrime Protection Outlook for 2017 and Beyond

Despite the obvious challenges of increasingly sophisticated cybercriminals and perpetually inadequate corporate budgets to counteract them, there is reason for hope and optimism. CADNA’s policy agenda seeks to reduce instances of domain cybercrime as a whole through the development of stronger legislative defenses. In the meantime, FairWinds’ sophisticated brand protection strategies offer solutions to today’s acute problems.

We are working to make the internet safer. Will you join us?

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About jbourne