More and more frequently, imitations of well-known domains are misused for various, sometimes criminal, activities.  The target of the masterminds is primarily companies, and the effect on the victims’ image is often tremendous and can lead to a loss of customer trust.

In the fight against the increasing misuse of brand names on the Internet, 1&1 Internet Ltd has launched an initiative – the provider now offers domain packages in bundles of 5 to help companies protect their reputation by simply securing the closest alternatives to their desired Internet address. This prevents cyber-squatters from using addresses that are deceptively similar to company domains for their fraudulent activities.

According to the latest publication of the Brandjacking Index, the risk of brand misuse worldwide is the highest in US, Germany and UK.  More than 80 per cent of all websites using brand names for illegal purposes originate from these three countries.  The most popular method used by the online fraudsters is cyber-squatting.  Cyber-squatters are those who tap into unused domains to get an Internet address very similar to that of a company. In 2009, the World Intellectual Property Organization created by the UN handled 2,107 cases of suspected misuse.  According to experts, however, the estimated number of unrecorded cases exceeds several hundred thousand.

Another very popular fraud scheme is typo-squatting. In this case, the perpetrators speculate on misspelled URL entries and register domain names with a slightly different spelling. The goal of the fraudsters is to lure as many visitors as possible to their website where unsuspecting Internet users are offered third-party goods for sale.  Visitors to these sites can also get stung with malware, such as viruses and Trojans.

Private users may also land on deceptive phishing websites that appear genuine and prompt them to enter personal information such as passwords or bank and credit card information. “The increasing misuse of domain names does not only put companies at risk, but presents a threat to private users as well.  We believe that there is an urgent need for action, and see our initiative as another step in our fight against online fraud” says Oliver Mauss, CEO of 1&1 Internet.

The 1&1 initiative consists of two elements.  Firstly, 1&1 will suggest strategic domain names for registration that utilize other common domain extensions.  Secondly, 1&1 offers a domain product that includes the additional domain reservations at a significantly reduced price.  A 1&1 bundle of 5 domains, for example, costs £19.99+VAT for the first year. Compared to the respective individual prices, the bundle offer provides great savings.

The offer also applies to existing customers – a customer who already has a domain registered with 1&1 can now register additional domains via the 1&1 Control Panel.  Following an availability check, a list of available alternative domains will automatically be displayed on the 1&1 website page for customers to consider.

For more information on 1&1 domains visit the website at www.1and1.co.uk

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