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Cameroon Typo-Squats all of .com 402

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the can't-fault-them-for-the-idea dept.
wayne writes "As reported on CircleID, the nation of Cameroon, which controls the .cm top level domain, has typo-squatted all of the .com domain space. They have placed a wildcard DNS record to redirect all traffic to an ad-based search page. Unlike the earlier case of Verisign putting a wildcard in the real .com domain, ICANN has very little direct control over what a nation can do with their own TLD. Will the owners of .co and .om follow?"
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Cameroon Typo-Squats all of .com

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  • The fix is easy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by narfbot (515956) on Monday August 07, 2006 @01:43AM (#15857576)
    Just for any address I will never want to visit, you can just block it. For example, I never will visit ad.doubleclick.net. I have very little reason to visit Cameroon. I will just block all of .cm if the resulting site is annoying.
  • Not an issue. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by natrius (642724) <niran@NOspam.niran.org> on Monday August 07, 2006 @02:00AM (#15857619) Homepage
    As long as the money made from this is going to the goverment of Cameroon and not some registrar, why is this an issue? The .cm ccTLD belongs to Cameroon. Why can't they decide what they want to do with it?
  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Monday August 07, 2006 @02:21AM (#15857670) Homepage
    Cameroon is not typo-squatting anything. If you type in a domain name ending in .cm that hasn't been specifically assigned to someone, you get a fairly innocuous default page with links to ads. So what?

    The "so what" is that when you try to go to a non-existent domain, you should get a name resolution failure. That way, you know that you have an error. The screws that up.

  • Re:Not an issue. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ChronosWS (706209) on Monday August 07, 2006 @02:24AM (#15857678)
    Cameroon's tactics are fine. It's our poor typing which has gotten us into this mess. Can't blame them for our inability to type .com properly before hitting enter.
  • Re:.cm != .com (Score:1, Insightful)

    by typidemon (729497) on Monday August 07, 2006 @02:29AM (#15857689)
    it's typo-squatting any .com domain. www.cnn.com is one character away from www.cnn.cm
  • who cares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by no-body (127863) on Monday August 07, 2006 @02:31AM (#15857695)
    There are so many missdirects on search results anyway, if it's not the right one, just delete the browser tab and move on.
  • Re:The fix is easy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Neoncow (802085) on Monday August 07, 2006 @02:34AM (#15857700) Journal
    Wouldn't a better solution be to redirect *.om and *.cm to the .com equivalent? or maybe display a page that has a giant link to the correct address... I'm not geek enough to know how to do this, but I assume somone with adequate knowledge of proxies and scripts would be able to suggest something... *hint hint*
  • by stewby18 (594952) on Monday August 07, 2006 @02:34AM (#15857702)
    You are missing the point. The issue isn't people who want to go to aaa.cm accidently typing aab.cm, it's people wanting to go to aaa.com and forgetting the 'o'.
  • by Ididerus (898803) on Monday August 07, 2006 @02:57AM (#15857751) Homepage
    why do we even have "country" codes? isn't the whole point of the internet to connect the world? where does politcal and geographic lines come into play here? cnn.com and cnn.co.uk should be the same site with different localization options available for users.
  • Re:The fix is easy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by narfbot (515956) on Monday August 07, 2006 @03:00AM (#15857759)
    You could, but why bother? It's a typo anyway.
  • by rmckeethen (130580) on Monday August 07, 2006 @03:03AM (#15857766)

    I might have cared passionately about something like this. Now, I have more faith -- the Internet tends to route around folks with bad manners. This isn't the first time someone's come up with a grandiose plan to corner the market on user error and I doubt it will be the last. If Cameroon pisses off or annoys enough people with a stunt like this, I suspect someone, somewhere will do something about it. At the moment, there's not much more I can do than whine and complain, and I just don't see that it serves a useful purpose to do so.

    If any one of the geniuses who dreamed up this little scheme happens to read this message, than I've got just one thing to say to them -- good luck. Maybe it will work out for you... and than again, maybe it won't. Regardless, if you could tell those Nigerian bankers to stop sending me letters asking for my help with fraudulent transactions, I'd surely appreciate it.

  • by njdj (458173) on Monday August 07, 2006 @03:14AM (#15857789)

    The issue isn't people who want to go to aaa.cm accidently typing aab.cm, it's people wanting to go to aaa.com and forgetting the 'o'.

    I think you are missing the point. The owner of, say, neimanmarcus.com would be a victim of typosquatting if someone else took the domain name niemanmarcus.com, because someone typing in the latter spelling would really be deceived if it went to the wrong page. He could look carefully at what he typed and think, "yes, niemanmarcus.com, that's right." But if you type neimanmarcus.cm, the mistake is obvious when you look again.

    When trying to allow for users' mistakes, at some point you have to draw a line. Beyond a certain point, the user has to take responsibility to type what he or she means. For example, philips.com [philips.com] and phillips.com [phillips.com] are different domains. Neither is typosquatting; the user has to get it right. Top-level country domains are a much clearer case than that.

  • by CRC'99 (96526) on Monday August 07, 2006 @03:22AM (#15857806) Homepage
    Uh, do you understand the point of the article?

    Go to this site: http://www.cnn.com/ [cnn.com]

    Now go here: http://www.cnn.cm/ [www.cnn.cm]

    That's typosquatting.


    <sarcasm>Yeah! How dare they have their country code as a typo-squat of .com. Lets chance their country code from .cm to .fu or something! </sarcasm>
  • Re:The fix is easy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by telchine (719345) on Monday August 07, 2006 @04:09AM (#15857862)
    Yes of course the fix is easy. My personal fix is to type my domain names in correctly. In over 10 years of internet use, I can't ever remember typing .cm instead of .com That doesn't fix the underlying problem though, does it?
  • by Lissajous (989738) on Monday August 07, 2006 @04:13AM (#15857865)
    They typo-squatted .com by domain-squatting .cm.

    They domain-squatted .cm? Who else apart from the Cameroon do you feel should own the TLD? Did Cameroon think "hey - there's a TLD that (insert the "legit." owner of the TLD here) neglected to register....here's a chance to make a quick buck. Now......where's the countrys CmEx(*) card?".

    They may be typo-squatting .com, but they're certainly not domain-squatting .cm

    --
    (*)Cameroon Express - don't leave home without it!.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 07, 2006 @04:15AM (#15857866)
    The point is that if you typo something like "www.website.com" and go to "www.website.cm", you should get a name resolution failure, or a legitimate Cameroon website. Now, you get ads instead of a name resolution failure. This could screw up things like spam filtering (since everything.cm will now resolve to some sort of IP), and IMO is just a shitty thing to do, ranked slightly below all the search portals that often seem to show up on Google results these days.
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Monday August 07, 2006 @04:17AM (#15857868)
    Er..... Do you work for VeriSign, perchance?

  • by DrYak (748999) on Monday August 07, 2006 @05:56AM (#15857985) Homepage
    - Typo squatting is *registering* a specific typo. Like trying to get www.gooogle.com and www.gogle.com assigned to your own ad-page (it won't work actually, google have though of it first. But you get the idea). Typo-Squatters buys specific name and puts his page there.
    Original customer un-happy because someone else has bought the typo-name and he can't have it (he can do what google did and buy typo names, because typos are registered to someone else).

    - This case is using wild-cards to divert *UN-registered* domain names. One types something with .CM at the end. If genuine website exists, website is displayed. If website doesn't exist, instead of error message, you got sent to an search engine.
    Original user doesn't mind anything, because if he wants he can still buy the typo name : the typo-name is free to buy, only NON-assigned names are diverted to search site.
    The one who is pissed of is the IT-guy, because everything breaks because TLD aren't suposed to work that way, TLD are supposed to give error messages for non-existing domain (and this can break an algorithme that was supposed to detect bogus URLs. URLs aren't invalid any more, they always point to something now !).

    So the both aren't exactly the same.

    The official rationnal behind wildcarding is that people make typo.
    One solution is to buy all possible typo name, but this can be quite expensive and cumbersome, because you have to guess all typos and you may have a lot to buy.
    The other solution would be to harness the power of a search engine (and even better if the engine supports spelling suggestions like Google) and help the user find what they really wanted.
    This is not unlike what the infamouse Microsoft Explorer "simplified error message" whitch gave you the opportunity to search the name on msn's search engine, and somewhat related to a side effect of the "search engine keywords from the URL bar" function of FireFox.
    But the main difference is that those two are users choices, where as in .cm's case it's a governement forcing it.

    The real rationnal behind is that the Cameroune governement can make huge amounts of money from an ad-supported search engine, and even more money when some big company realise that there are a few more typo that they can buy a few more typo domains (only the non-existing domain are search diverted. The typo are still available to buy !).
    Even if the wildcarding gets forbiden and/or blocked, it will have attracted enough publicity around this few more typos to buy (and the side effect to also attract attention to other TLD that the big companies may have missed, like .OM (oman) and .CO (colombia) ) more money to come from domain name selling !
    (Let's hope that at least part of this money will go to the poeple and not only to the pocket of a few highly placed guys :-/ )

    Sadly, because in this case the people that are pissed off aren't the one with the money (big company will be happy to buy more typo domain, unlike what happens with real cases of typo-squatting) but are the average users (who except tld to issues error for non existing domains), we probably won't see any massive action against Cameroune.

    Unless they suddenly happen to discover huge underground petroleum reserves. Then except to see Bush leading a god-inspired holy war to liberate all the poor American-.COM domains squatted by vilain .CMs, and be ready to accept those evil "Typo-Squatters" as a new entry in the list of subject used to scare people, next to "Terrorist", "Pirate", "Pronographer" and "Communist (now defunct)" and other un-american freedom haters.

  • Re:Smart move. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by teal_ (53392) on Monday August 07, 2006 @06:43AM (#15858031)
    That's a very irresponsible comparison. I know it's fashionable to loathe yourself and your government, but let's not forget who the good guys are. That's not to say we're perfect, far from it, but relatively speaking, it's no contest. Would you rather live in Cameroon or some other God foresaken country, or in the US / UK? I thought so.
  • by ChristTrekker (91442) on Monday August 07, 2006 @06:48AM (#15858039)

    The fact is, we still live in a world with nations. Where you physically exist is still relevant. You can't escape that. Different laws apply in different places, even with the internet.

    If your business/organization spans multiple countries, or if the concept of "nation" isn't really applicable to what you're trying to do, then be a .com.int or .org.int instead.

    Drop nation-ambiguous TLDs. Let each country's "technical authority" decide which 2LDs it will have. Then we won't get bizarre junk like .aero, etc. Current ambiguous URLs (e.g. mcdonalds.com) could result in a HTTP 300 code with a list of choices (e.g. mcdonalds.com.int, mcdonalds.com.ac, mcdonalds.com.ad, ..., mcdonalds.com.zw). This would remind many people that there is a world outside their own borders, and I believe that's a good thing. Take a little pride in your homeland; there's nothing wrong with that.

  • by Chatterton (228704) on Monday August 07, 2006 @07:00AM (#15858056) Homepage
    Having a .cm tld is not typosquatting. Redirecting non existant url (finishing or not finishing with .cm) to an ad sponsored search page is typosquatting.
  • by Bing Tsher E (943915) on Monday August 07, 2006 @07:22AM (#15858091) Journal
    Any time anybody types a URL that was meant to be a .com but omits the 'o' the .cm TLD will scoop it up and take the web surfer on a side adventure to wherever.

    That constitutes 'typo-squatting' .com in any above described instances.
  • Re:Not an issue. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rs79 (71822) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Monday August 07, 2006 @07:27AM (#15858096) Homepage
    "Was that their intention?"

    Just a guess, but maybe they want to put an end to people costing them money when random folks screw up and ding the wrong TLD server?
  • Re:Smart move. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Itchy Rich (818896) on Monday August 07, 2006 @07:51AM (#15858142)

    I agree, although by using terms like "good guys" and "god-forsaken" you're in danger of being as irrational and downright inaccurate as the post you reply to.

  • Re:The fix is easy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Itchy Rich (818896) on Monday August 07, 2006 @08:04AM (#15858183)

    Wouldn't a better solution be to redirect *.om and *.cm to the .com equivalent?

    What happens if the typo wasn't in the TLD? They'll then get redirected to a site they didn't ask for instead of recieving a more appropriate "Not Found" message. What happens to systems that rely on DNS returning those "not found" messages? There's also the question of US-bias. There are other TLDs that could be mistyped to produce the ones mentioned. If you want your typos to be automatically translated into what the system thinks you *might* have meant then that should happen at the application level (i.e. your web browser) so that users have a choice. It shouldn't be built into DNS.
  • Re:Smart move. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CarpetShark (865376) on Monday August 07, 2006 @08:08AM (#15858193)
    That's a horribly uncivilised way for a government to act. Next thing you know, they'll be using propaganda to control citizens, taking bribes from big companies, and scaring people into doing what they want, with nasty words and phrases like "terrorist cells", "weapons of mass destruction" and "axis of evil" ;)
  • Re:Smart move. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ultranova (717540) on Monday August 07, 2006 @08:37AM (#15858267)

    Then we'd be right at home then. It's not hard to change "libel" to "trator". From reading a little about Cameroon, their government is as accountable as our own. Of course, we should just assume they are evil incarnate as they aren't white anglo-saxon Christians.

    No, we should instead assume that they can do no wrong because they aren't anglo-saxon Christians.

    The idea, implied in your post, that all anglo-saxon Christians are racists against all other people is racist in itself. But of course that is okay, since it is fashinable to bash anglo-saxon Christians right now, just as it was once fashionable to bash negros, judes, redskins, gooks, insert deragatory racial group term of your choice here.

    After all, no one who isn't anglo-saxon Christian couldn't possibly do anything to deserve criticism. It's all just a plot of White Supremacists, fighting for control with the Elders of Zion and the Freemasons. Right ?

    And for the record: I know nothing about Cameroon, besides a quick Wikipedia lookup, and can't say whether their government is dictatorial or not. I am simply commenting on your idiotic, racist assumption that any criticism is motivated by racism.

  • Re:The fix is easy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 1u3hr (530656) on Monday August 07, 2006 @09:27AM (#15858440)
    Wouldn't a better solution be to redirect *.om and *.cm to the .com equivalent?

    Even worse. That would have the effect of blocking all the legitimate .cm amd .om (Oman) sites. Why worry at all? If someone makes a typo and gets a generic ad page it's hardly a disaster.

  • Re:Not an issue. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chops (168851) on Monday August 07, 2006 @09:47AM (#15858544)
    All hail the new unremovable advertising popups in GPLv3 (section 5c)!

    I think you're mistaken -- all that that requirement means is that there must be an option in the menus of an interactive GUI application to display copyright information (as in "Help / About"). See for yourself [fsf.org]:

    If the modified work has interactive user interfaces, each must include a convenient feature that displays an appropriate copyright notice ... if the interface presents a list of user commands or options, such as a menu, a command to display this information must be prominent in the list; otherwise, the modified work must display this information at startup.

    Emphasis is mine.
  • Re:Smart move. (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 07, 2006 @10:39AM (#15858876)
    The idea, implied in your post, that all anglo-saxon Christians are racists against all other people is racist in itself. But of course that is okay, since it is fashinable to bash anglo-saxon Christians right now, just as it was once fashionable to bash negros, judes, redskins, gooks, insert deragatory racial group term of your choice here.

    Yes, because as we all know, anglo-saxon Christians are currently enslaved and forced to pick cotton, being forced into death camps and gas chambers, pushed off their land and forced to live on reservations, stuffed into small container vessels and forced to work in restaurants and laundries and railroads for virtually no pay. Anglo-saxon Christians certainly DON'T represent one of the most destructive, violent, imperialistic forces on the planet for the past few centuries. My goodness no. Anglo-saxon Christians are a tiny, persecuted minority who suffer constant abuse and indignities at the hands of the heathen majority.

    Poor innocent little anglo-saxon Christians.
  • Re:Smart move. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 07, 2006 @01:10PM (#15859841)
    I have a relative who is currently teaching at a school in Cameroon. I've got to say that some of the stories she tells are unbelievable in how corrupt the government is. For people who say that education is the key, try this one on for size. She has an extremely bright student who wanted to go into nursing school, and there is a huge need for nurses in most of the country, so you would think this would be a good fit. Wrong. Since there is an excess of nurses in the Capitol (Duoala), the government mandated that no new students were allowed to enter nursing school for the next 5 years. She then decided to try to go to school to become a teacher. Another problem, the government goes out of its way to ensure that only the children of its supporters are allowed into positions of power, so the way the system works is that you have to wait and listen for your name to be broadcast on government radio to know when you are supposed to go and take the test and, yes, you guessed it, they try to make the announcements at the time you are least likely to be listening to the radio. If by some miracle you do manage to be able to sit for an entrance exam, chances are high that the person seated next to you who is the child of someone important was given all the answers ahead of time.
    If you think that debt relief is the answer to all of Africa's problems, you are wrong. The problem is that corrupt governments do all that they can to stay in power, at the expense of the rest of society.

    PS If you think there is a parallel to George Bush in all of this. *News Flash* You are a moron who has no idea what real corruption is.
  • by j-turkey (187775) on Monday August 07, 2006 @02:33PM (#15860387) Homepage
    Quite a difference, if you ask me. Unless you are a sensationalist, of course.

    If one were to register micosoft.com, mirosoft.com, and mcrosoft.com, that would be typo-squatting on Microsoft.com, no?

    In adding a redirect for .cm, with a wildcard redirect for all nonregistered entries, it seems that Cameroon is typo squatting on a TLD. It's the same idea as the Verisign deal, it's just that this one is doing it on a tld that could easily be a typo for .com. Why could this not be classified as being both a Sitefinder-type redirect, and a TLD typo squat?

    It seems to me that rather than being bullshit, the headline is getting to the meat of the story.

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