This week saw a crackdown on bogus internet sites selling counterfeit goods and offering fake banking services. According to Europol, as part of its third operation in twelve months, police forces across Europe have seized 292 domains linked to the sale of counterfeit goods online.
Fraudulent sites often try to sell popular goods such as electronics, pharmaceuticals, sportswear and movies so its vitally important Domainmonster customers keep themselves protected over this festive period, where the temptation to buy presents online is at an all-time high.
This latest operation saw a unified effort between Europol, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), along with other law enforcement agencies from another 19 countries crack down on a number of illegally operated websites in an attempt to protect the public.
However this news isn’t new. A recent survey analysed over 100,000 phishing attacks in the first part of 2014 and examined the TLDs affected by these attacks:
|TLD||Phishing Domains/10,000||Malicious Domains/10,000|
Source: The 2014 Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) Global Phishing Survey
The survey found that Apple was the most phished brand with its name attributed to 17.7% to all phishing attacks, closely followed by Paypal with 14.4% and Taobao with 13.2% meaning you should take special care to treat these keywords with caution.
Trademark holders have increasingly found themselves having to report infringing websites to authorities, leading to the confiscation of these domains on the grounds of wilful copyright infringement. Visitors typing these domains into their browsers now receive a banner that notifies them of the crime and attempts to educate them on the growing issue. However with many more harmful websites out there it’s important to keep you and your love ones safe when browsing.
Although seizing the website merely hinders the criminal activity, a new EU action plan is attempting to enforce intellectual property rights and ‘follow the money’ in order to bring these perpetrators to justice. However whilst this new initiative is still pending it’s easy to defend yourself against these threats if you follow Domainmonster’s top tips:
1 Check the website reputation.
Before you buy use URL void , TrustedSource or WebRoot to check the website. These tools should be able to tell you the reputation of a website and detect fraudulent and malicious websites.
2 Judge the prices
Always be aware if the prices are too low. The website may promote low prices to quickly sell the fake or inexistent items and ask for bank or payment details to process the payment quickly. If you have any doubts, purposely enter a fake password or payment details because phony sites will often accept false information.
3 Check the company name and contact details
Make sure the company name is legit and not suspicious. If in doubt there is no harm in contacting the reseller to ask about their products. If the email contact is from a public account, but claims to be from a bank or other business, do not trust the email.
4 Compare the copyright date with the domain creation date
Use a Whois lookup to determine if a website is only a few weeks old. You should also be able to check the registrant data against contact details on the website.
5 HTTPS support
Most legitimate e-commerce websites should have HTTPS support when you enter personal information or credit card details. Check you are not giving your details to anything you are unsure of. Clicking on the lock symbol in your browser window allows you to verify that a security certificate was issued to that site, a sign that it’s a legitimate, trusted website. You should also check that the address starts with “https://” rather than just “http://”. Do not enter payment information on any site that isn’t secure.
6 Check the language/spelling.
It may sound simple but check if care has been put into the creation of the site. Are there any spelling mistakes/ formatting errors? Does the website use other companies’ logos?
7 Google is your friend!
If in doubt use Google to find reviews of the site! Only trust websites that have received positive reviews from fellow customers.