Have you ever made a typo and entered “.cm” instead of “.com”? It is one of common typos people make when entering a URL into the address bar of your browser. Dot-cm is actually the country code for Cameroon. But cybersquatters are registering these domains with ill-intentions.
Cybersquatting (also known as domain squatting), according to the United States federal law known as the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, is registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else. The cybersquatter then offers to sell the domain to the person or company who owns a trademark contained within the name at an inflated price. – Wikipedia
Here’s the full article from ctlawtribune.com:
By TRESA BALDAS
It’s typosquatting waiting to happen.
Trademark attorneys are warning companies about a new target for cybersquatters known as “.cm,” which is the country code — or top level domain — for the West African nation of Cameroon. The dot-cm domain is a hot target for scammers, they say, due to “cm” being a common typographical error for “com” in the popular dot-com domain.
Attorneys say this is significant to brand owners because Internet users searching for brand owners’ Web sites frequently mistype dot-com as dot-cm and wind up on a bogus site. Not only is Web traffic lost, they say, but a brand name can get diluted or tainted along the way.
“It’s a trick-to-click model. They’re trying to trick people into thinking they’re at a legitimate site,” said Enrico Schaefer, founding attorney of Traverse Legal, based in Traverse City, Mich., which specializes in Internet law and online brand protection. “Most companies do not have a clue that this cybersquatting or typosquatting is going on. But they are becoming more aware of it all the time.”
To avoid falling prey to typosquatters, lawyers are urging companies to register their trademark as a dot-cm domain before squatters do. The Cameroon government’s “Sunrise Period” allowing trademark owners to apply for dot-cm domain names ended on July 14, which means it’s a free-for-all now. Anyone can register a brand through dot-cm, and there’s little remedy as Cameroon has no published dispute policy at this time.
“It’s going to make it difficult to get the domain names back from someone who might be doing something nefarious,” said Brian Heidelberger, an intellectual property partner at Chicago’s Winston & Strawn who is urging companies to register their brands with the dot-cm domain.
Heidelberger is concerned that companies are not paying close enough attention to the dangers of the dot-cm domain. He recalled how companies frantically rushed to protect their brands from cybersquatters on Facebook, which recently allowed companies and all users to create personalized Facebook addresses. Companies were quick to register their brands with Facebook, he said, but the dot-cm domain doesn’t seem to be triggering much movement.
“It’s not receiving as much attention at all. We think it’s significant, given the great number of mistaken typos that people will be making,” Heidelberger said.
Typosquatting occurs much more often than Internet users realize, Heidelberger said. For example, “google.cm” receives approximately 20,000 hits per day. That translates into a ton of lost Web traffic for companies that are trying to promote their brands on the Internet, he said.
“Or worse, someone is going to be doing something deceptive or damaging to your brand,” Heidelberger said.
Schaefer said companies are hurt anytime someone ends up on a typo-squatter’s page. For example, someone thinks he or she is going to Nike’s Web site, Schaefer said, but ends up on a typo-squatter’s page, which is confusing and includes links to several other shoe brands.
“If they think that it’s Nike, they’re thinking ‘It’s a pretty lame site,’ and it tends to hurt the brand,” Schaefer said. “And it hurts Nike because it diverts Web traffic and potential business directly away from it.” •
There’s an easy solution to protect yourself from this as well as a host of other web surfing security threats.
If you haven’t already heard of OpenDNS, It’s a free DNS service that offers you many built in security features as well as faster surfing. OpenDNS has been actively filtering “bad” .cm from legitimate ones. I’ve been using OpenDNS for a while now, and it’s been very good. All you need to do is insert 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 into your router settings.
Visit OpenDNS to find out how to do this if you need help setting up.