People often talk about security as being one of the best elements of cryptocurrency. However, being entirely online has allowed a number of new schemes to impact the industry.
For example, it would be pretty hard to steal money by making a fake bank. However, there are people out there trying to steal cryptocurrency by making fake websites.
What Is Typosquatting?
Website addresses are very exact things. Chances are, at least once, you’ve accidentally punched in a typo address and gone to the wrong website. One type of online scam, called
Typosquatters create websites with addresses very similar to other sites. Kind of like when a username is taken so you replace an o with a 0 and it suddenly works.
Then when people unwittingly visit the address run by a typosquatter, they may end up giving their money to scammers.
How Long Has This Been a Problem?
It’s hard to say how long typosquatting has been around. However, people probably started paying more attention to it since a Micky.com.au story that ran late last month.
The story told the tale of a typosquatter who allegedly got away with hundreds of thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency. The scam only came to light when the perpetrator revealed it himself before retiring.
A cautionary tale included in the article focused on cryptocurrency trading website Binance. Binance support never directly addressed the incident, making it unclear how many people may have been affected and how.
Should You Be Worried About Typosquatting?
As the Micky article pointed out, most people are unfamiliar with the idea of typosquatters. This is largely because typosquatting is more common on the Darknet.
Deep web essentially represents parts of World Wide Web which are not accessible to regular internet users, as regular search engines do not index that content. These can for example include servers and websites hosting some government data, as well as servers of online banks, email providers, or those that users must pay for. Darknet is part of Deep web. In order to access Darknet, you need specific software or tools, as it is
an encrypted network built on top of the existing internet. It provides anonymity to its users, and is often used for carrying out illegal activities. Darknet website addresses are often more complicated than regular URLs, making things easier for typosquatters. People on the darknet are frequently paying for illegal goods and services and are less likely to report fraud.
That doesn’t mean that the regular internet is entirely safe from scams like typosquatting. According to some estimates, millions of people per year end up on typosquatter sites.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
If you find an online scam, the best thing to do is to report it to the website that you were trying to reach so that they can alert the proper authorities. You may also directly contact law enforcement agencies or internet watchdogs in your area. However, different countries have their own agencies for this purpose.
There are also a couple of things that you can do to try to avoid falling for these schemes. Getting to websites using search engines instead of typing in the address manually is one way.
Increased attention on typosquatters is a good thing. Increased knowledge helps to ensure that fewer people fall for their tricks.
No one on the internet is entirely safe from scams, and typosquatting isn’t reserved for cryptocurrency trading sites. But you shouldn’t let them scare you away. Just be careful while making payments online to make sure that they are going to the right place.
Tamara is a marketing and PR professional, enthusiastic about crypto, blockchain and technology in general. She’s the editor at Bitcoin Australia.