Lookalike domains, or websites that are almost identical to another URL, are often created with to deceive people. Here’s what you need to know about them and why you should be cautious.
Why do criminals use lookalike domains?
Cybercriminals register lookalike domains in order to impersonate businesses and communicate with their customers with the intention of tricking them into thinking they are handing over their personal details to a trustworthy vendor rather than someone with bad intentions.
How to spot a lookalike domain
How do you know what is a fraudulent domain and what is just a website with a very similar name?
First of all, fraudsters will often copy a top-level domain name and register it against a different suffix or with very minor changes, such as an added hyphen or digit. This makes it easy for users to misread the domain and click on it. The problem is that these scam sites are made to look legitimate.
This is why it is a good idea to buy more than one suffix with your domain, even if you don’t intend to use them for the public. You can do this at https://www.names.co.uk/domain-names. Don’t forget that you can always redirect users to your main site from these additional ones, which might be worth it if it prevents others from stealing your identity.
How can a lookalike domain damage a reputation?
Being the victim of a lookalike domain can really do some harm to your brand’s reputation. Not only can they steal your customer’s private details and, at times, take their money fraudulently, they can also target them with scam emails and give them an altogether negative experience of shopping with you (or an entity they think it is you). As you know, word of mouth is some of the best and the worst marketing out there, so the last thing you want to get is negative feedback.
How to prevent or monitor lookalike domains
In addition to registering domain names similar to yours, you might like to invest in a domain protection package to keep your domain safe.
The main thing to keep in mind is to monitor websites regularly and be on high alert. If you have a web security team, you may want to charge them with keeping their ears and eyes open on the internet.