What is Cybersquatting?

What is Cybersquatting?

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Anshuman
Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content
Updated on May 6, 2024 15:30 IST

Just assume that you’ve invested years and a lot of money in developing your company’s brand. But, if I told you that by purchasing a ₹499 domain that looks similar to yours, someone could undo a lot of your hard work?

What is Cybersquatting

Scarier, well, if individuals threaten to destroy your brand if you don’t agree to purchase the pretender domain from them? In layman’s terms, this scenario illustrates a technique known as cybersquatting.

In this article, we will go through cybersquatting in great depth. But, before moving further, let’s go through the topics that we will be covering in this blog:

  1. What is cybersquatting?
  2. Types of cybersquatting
  3. The first case of cybersquatting in India
  4. How to handle cybersquatting?
  5. Laws in India related to cybersquatting
  6. Laws in other countries related to cybersquatting

What is cybersquatting?

The act of registering, selling, or using a domain name with the intent of profiting from the goodwill of someone else’s trademark is known as cybersquatting (also known as domain squatting). It generally refers to purchasing domain names that contain the names of existing businesses to resell the names to those businesses for a profit or confuse customers.

For example, If the company had not yet created a website, a cybersquatter could purchase naukri.com. A cybersquatter does this to later sell the domain to Naukri for a profit. Or, he can even use the domain name to lure traffic and generate cash via advertising.

Types of cybersquatting

At the moment, the four most common types of cybersquatting are typosquatting, identity theft, name jacking, and reverse-cybersquatting.

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Typosquatting

Typosquatting (a.k.a URL hijacking) targets Internet users who enter a website address incorrectly into their browser. For example, typing “Gooogle.com” instead of “Google.com.”

Identity theft

Identity theft describes crimes where someone unlawfully obtains and uses another individual’s private data to involve deception or fraud, usually for financial gain.

For example, cybersquatters may buy a domain that was inadvertently not renewed by the previous owner. Cybersquatters use specialized software applications to easily monitor the expiration dates of targeted domain names. After registering expired domain names, cybersquatters may link them to websites duplicates of the previous domain name owners’ websites. As a result, cybersquatters will track visitors to their websites into thinking they are visiting the websites of the last name domain owners.

Name jacking

The registration of a domain name associated with an individual’s name, usually a celebrity or a well-known public figure, is referred to as name jacking. Name jackers profit from web traffic related to the individuals being targeted.

For example, Tom Cruise took his case to the WIPO in 2006 against Jeff Burgar, who had owned the domain TomCruise.com for over ten years. Users were redirected to his website Celebrity1000.com, which earns money through third-party advertisements.

Reverse-cybersquatting

Reverse-cybersquatting is an aggressive action that a cybersquatter uses to obtain a specific domain name on the Internet. Cybersquatters may use intimidation and pressure to transfer legitimate ownership of a domain name to the person or organization that owns a registered trademark reflected in the domain name.

Must Explore- What is a Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attack?

The first case of cybersquatting in India

Yahoo Inc. v. Akash Arora was the first domain squatting case in India. In this case, Yahoo Inc., based in the United States, filed an injunction suit against the defendant Akash Arora, who had registered a deceptively similar trademark to Yahoo Inc. as “Yahoo.com.”

The High Court of Delhi issued an injunction in favor of the plaintiff, preventing the defendant from using “Yahoo!” because it infringed on Yahoo Inc.’s trademark. Because the defendant’s domain name was deceptively similar, consumers were easily confused, despite the defendant’s disclaimer or the addition of the word “India” in its domain name.

You can also explore – What is an Ethical Hacker?

How to handle cybersquatting?

To begin, confirm that it is a case of domain squatting. Sometimes it appears to be a domain squatting case, but it could be a trademark infringement case. For example, the trademark “Moby Dick” is associated with the sale of fine art. In contrast, www.mobydick.com is a website about road cleaning machines. Because there is no direct competition between the products, this is not cybersquatting.

Once you’ve determined that it’s a domain squatting case, use a “WHOIS Lookup” to contact the domain name holder. The owner’s contact information will be available, and you can find out if they have an explanation or if they are willing to negotiate the sale of the domain at a reasonable price.

If you cannot reach an agreement to sell the domain, you can contact lawyers to open a case file. Legal proceedings can be time-consuming and costly. As a result, many businesses prefer to reach an agreement directly with the domain owner, who has the upper hand in negotiations.

Laws in India related to cybersquatting

Unlike many other developed countries, there is no Domain Name Protection Law in India. Cybersquatting cases fall under the Trade Mark Act, 1999. The Trade Marks Act of 1999 has a limitation in that it is not extraterritorial and thus does not provide adequate protection for domain names.

Laws in other countries related to cybersquatting

There is an organization to handle domain squatting cases in other countries, such as the United States. In the United States, a victim of domain squatting has two options:

  • Sue, under the provisions of the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA)
  • Use the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ international arbitration system (ICANN)

Conclusion

If you want to read more about such articles or topics related to cybersecurity attacks, you can refer to the following blogs:

What is a Phishing attack?
What is a Phishing attack?
A cyber attack is an unauthorized attempt to gain unauthorized access to a computer system in order to size, modify, or steal data. Cybercriminals can launch a cyberattack using a...read more
What is a Trojan horse attack?
What is a Trojan horse attack?
Trojans are malicious programs that appear to perform one function but perform another. Attackers can disguise Trojans as free software, videos, or music, or they could appear to be legitimate...read more

FAQs

Is cybersquatting illegal?

Cybersquatting is an unethical and frequently illegal practice that violates your intellectual property rights.

How do you stop cybersquatting?

Proactive security management can help you avoid cybersquatting.

What are the different types of cybersquatting?

There are four types of cybersquatting: "Typosquatting," "Identity Theft," "Name Jacking," and "Reverse-cybersquatting."

What can happen if the domain registrant is found guilty of cybersquatting?

If the domain registrant is found guilty of cybersquatting, the court can order the domain forfeited, canceled, or transferred.

About the Author
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Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content

Anshuman Singh is an accomplished content writer with over three years of experience specializing in cybersecurity, cloud computing, networking, and software testing. Known for his clear, concise, and informative wr... Read Full Bio