Typo Squatting Runs Rampant During 2012 Olympics

(Ping! Zine Web Tech Magazine) – While athletes participating in the 2012 Olympics may be looking to cash in on some medals for the countries they proudly represent, some online users are seeking to cash in using a much more deceitful tactic.

According to a report released on Friday by cloud security company Zscaler, an astounding 80% of websites using the term “olympics” in their domain names represented spam and scams. It’s a tactic known as “typo squatting” where spammers register sites based on commonly mistyped web addresses.

For example, say you’re trying to access an actual Olympics-affiliated website such as nbcolympics.com but you accidently type “mbcolympics.” Oops! You’re then redirected to a fake page operated by spammers.

“These domains are mostly parked. They are covered with advertising in the hope that users will click on one of those links since there is no useful content on the page,” explained Zscaler in its report. The same report noted that majority of the typo squatting sites in the United States pertained to NBC which is providing coverage for the popular sporting events.

Scammers also sought to cash in on users trying to find streaming of the games online.

However, typo squatting wasn’t the only tactics spammers relied on. Security company Sophos noted on Friday that a malware campaign was targeting unsuspecting users with a false story regarding U.S. gymnast Gabrielle Douglas.

“Huge scandal with the USA Women’s Gymnastics Team on the 2012 London Olympics,” read the header of the spam message. The contents of the email detailed the false story and provided users with a fake YouTube link. When users click the link, they’re asked to download a plugin for Adobe Flash. Instead they inadvertently receive trojan malware.

Malware has been an increasingly large threat to the online community for a while now. In recent years, its use has spread to mobile platforms including Android.