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The Typo That Can Get You Hacked

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Here’s another reason to be extra careful about what you type into your web browser.

Cybersecurity firm Endgame has unearthed a new spin on the good old “typosquatting” scam — the practice of purchasing domain names similar to legitimate websites (Think Gooogle.com) in hopes that a small keyboard snafu nets hackers access to your computer.

The new scam aims to install malware on devices after users accidentally type “.om” instead of “.com” after popular urls. Endgame discovered the scheme after one of its employees mistakenly typed “Netflix.om” instead of Netflix.com when attempting to watch the latest season of House of Cards earlier this month.

Per a company blog post:

“He did not get a DNS resolution error, which would have indicated the domain he typed doesn’t exist.  Instead, due to the registration of “netflix.om” by a malicious actor, the domain resolved successfully. His browser was immediately redirected several times, and eventually landed on a ‘Flash Updater’ page with all the usual annoying (and to an untrained user, terrifying) scareware pop-ups.”

After doing some more research, Endgame found the streaming service wasn’t the only popular url being “om’ed. Though some sites bearing that ending were legitimate, 319 .om domains appeared to have some type of scheme attached to them. (Fake Flash Updates, for instance, are commonly linked to a well-known malware named Genio that attaches itself to web browsers and mines for data.)

You can see a full list of the potentially dangerous domains here. It’s important to note you could also be in trouble if you typed the “c”, but misplaced the period. (Example: bestbuyc.om or cnnc.om.) This particular typosquatting game was easy for hackers to play, Endgame said, since “.om” is the country-specific domain name for Oman.

Protecting Yourself

Phishing and malware schemes are common attempts by scammers to get your personal information. For better Internet safety, it’s generally recommended you stick to trusted and encrypted websites (double-check, of course, the spelling of each address); refrain from clicking on links in unsolicited emails and keep your security software up to date.

It’s also good to monitor financial accounts regularly for fraud, and keep a close eye on your credit since a sudden drop in credit scores or unfamiliar line items on a credit report are signs identity theft is occurring. (You can do so by pulling your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and viewing your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.)  If have fallen victim to an Internet scam, you might also consider freezing your credit reports to keep new accounts from being opened in your name. And you can go here to learn what to do if you’ve already spotted identity theft on your credit report.

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