Typosquatting Websites Proliferate in Run-up to US Elections
Researchers with Digital Shadows have found hundreds of “typosquatting” domains linked to the 2020 US Presidential elections. Typosquatting is the practice of registering domains that very closely resemble a popular website. These domains are likely to receive traffic from visitors who made a typing error while entering the domain they wanted to visit, and can also be used as part of phishing and other cybercrime campaigns to trick users into thinking they are visiting a legitimate website when they have actually entered a nefarious one.
In this case, the researchers found over 550 fake websites related to 19 Democratic and 4 Republican contenders for the presidential race, as well as 11 other fake domains linked to election-related websites. 68% of the phony websites redirected users to new pages with actual content. In many cases the intention seemed to be political, with sites linked to one candidate sending visitors to the website of another candidate. A small number of fake sites advertises potentially harmful applications. Digital Shadows concluded that “without calling out one candidate or one party over another for these typosquats, it’s clear that the political battles are not taking place just on the debate stage or in the media but expanding to the cyber realm, as well.”