Saturday, July 16, 2011

Typosquatting

A few nights ago, I sat down and fired up my laptop to check out the news on CNN.com. Unfortunately, I mistyped the URL and instead was taken to XNN.com which is a domain purchased by a company or individual with the specific purpose of capitalizing on visitors to legitimate websites with a similar address. This is a practice known as “typosquatting” and has become rather prevalent in the past decade as web traffic has grown exponentially. 


Since it will only take the user a few seconds to realize their error, the designers of the website have a small window in which to convince you to stay. This is often accomplished by either offering products or services similar to the legitimate website they are typosquatting on or simply covering a wide variety of possible interests. Xnn.com appears to have chosen the later as their website offers services for those interested in Russian Jewish dating, stock market quotes, and humorous viral videos.

I must admit that the scope of xnn.com’s offerings was impressive. While other websites would have dismissed the idea of ensnaring a bored day trader in search of a comely Russian Jew for a night out on the town, xnn.com decided to throw a technological Hail Mary and go for broke. Inspired by their entrepreneurial vision, I went out in search of other typosquatters who shared their pioneering spirit:
  • Mispace.com offers inexpensive auto insurance quotes and interracial dating services.
  • Netflixes.com offers grocery coupons, Justin Bieber info and MP3 downloads
  • Tweater.com features internet domain registration, used cars and health insurance
  • Amazones.com is the source for college textbooks, women’s shoes and gently pre-owned medical equipment.
  • Feecebook.com has a comprehensive list of Christian Singles and offers a photosharing service
  • Snoops.com offers part time jobs and pictures of Kate Moss topless.
  • Weikipedia.com is a clearinghouse for Firestone oil change coupons and video editing software
Ironically, someone has even purchased typosquatting.com and is offering divorce attorneys and deals on Jeep Cherokees. Most of the domains are purchased with the hope that the owner of the similar (legitimate) domain will make them an offer, but in the mean time I suppose there is nothing wrong with raising a little operating capital from ads and services. Eager to capitalize on this phenomenon I have determined that phacebook.edu is available so all I need is a foolproof listing of products and services guaranteed to catch the eye of anyone who stumbles across it:
  • Ukrainian fly-fishing lures
  • Illustrated guides for removing a human index finger
  • Hot Episcopalian singles
  • Exhaust kits for 2002 Dodge Ram Crew-Cabs
  • Parakeet jewelry
  • Blind Notaries
  • Penguin recipes
  • Prison blogging
  • Refurbished swimsuits
  • Lumberjack scholarships
  • Canadian Multivitamins
  • Competitive nude arc-welding
  • DIY Ultrasounds

I will also place this sentence at the bottom to return as many search engine hits as possible:

This website is currently offering “low-interest financing” on the “foreclosed” upon “homes” and “repossessed cars” of “nude women” in need of “debt relief” who ironically spend the majority of their time scouring the Internet for “cheap airline tickets” on their “iPhone 5” while simultaneously watching videos on “youtube” and updating their statuses on “facebook” instead of searching the “job listings” in order to generate “supplemental income” to settle their overdue accounts on several “dating websites.” 

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