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Cameroon Typo-Squats all of .com 402

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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  • Easy Solution. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 07, 2006 @01:47AM (#15857585)
    Encourage everyone to blacklist their TLD until they start letting their people use it for real content, which will happen as soon as someone is in control who understands (and cares) that the nation will benefit more from it.

    Persistent attacks on the page might help as well, since it would interfere with their cash flow from it.
  • Re:Not an issue. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Maestro4k ( 707634 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @02:11AM (#15857643) Journal
    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?

    Same reasons that Verisign's wildcard service was decried, among other things this will cause every to resolve so it's going to at least screw with some spam blocking methods. If other countries follow suit then it gets even messier.

    You're right that it belongs to them but there is such a thing as playing nicely. Also it's a bit of a spammy trick, so it's already making me associate Cameroon with spammers and their ilk. Was that their intention? Will they be happy with that? If you lived in Cameroon would you like the fact that your government (since the government assigns who runs the ccTLD) is making your country look like that?

  • by njdj ( 458173 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @02:16AM (#15857657)

    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?

  • by smash ( 1351 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @02:18AM (#15857662) Homepage Journal
    From some dude's blog that was linked to TFA:

    The lesson here is that something is fundamentally screwed up in the domain world when one server manager in Cameroon can enable this much confusion. But I still can't figure out what the right solution is.
    (from here: eemore=y [])

    ... is to require that US based sites use a US-specific country suffix, just like the rest of the internet.

    I.e., migrate all of .com, .net, etc to, (or whatever).

    That way, typoing the .com or .net suffix won't take you to a different country unintentionally :D

    Sure, the internet was originally created in the US, but it's bigger than that now, and having one country that just doesn't use country suffixes is non-standard. :)

    Of course, typo-ing the country suffix will still either not work, or take you to a different country, but what can you do...

    As a side-effect, this would no doubt deter other country's businesses etc from simply registering .com, .org or .net domains because the domain rego is cheaper and it's "country-ambiguous"... (yes, I own .net and .org domains and i'm in australia. if it was going to have to be or whateever, I probably wouldn't be using up your precious US namespace :D)

  • Re:Not an issue. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pantero Blanco ( 792776 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @02:35AM (#15857705)
    Because the government of Cameroon is not Cameroon.

    This isn't just an attempt to grab cash; that's a side effect. This is to hamper the ability of opposition parties to use the Internet as a voice. The government in Cameroon controls the TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers tightly; they don't want the Internet to be any different.
  • Re:Smart move. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lars T. ( 470328 ) <> on Monday August 07, 2006 @02:55AM (#15857745) Journal
    At least it will pay for the upkeep of a DNS root server that mostly had traffic asking for non existing sites.
  • by Adrian Lopez ( 2615 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @03:04AM (#15857767) Homepage
    Considering it's only the .cm domain that's being polluted, this problem doesn't really bother me that much. On the other hand, the mass registration of domain names under the .com TLD for the purposes of advertising or resale is a much more significant problem. Most of the domain names I've tried to register have already been registered for such purposes. I'd rather see that situation fixed than the .cm typosquatting issue.
  • Well... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 07, 2006 @03:15AM (#15857793)
    Since that'll screw with spamfilters (unless, perhaps you make sure that .cm can't be delegated?), perhaps it'd be a good idea to block *.cm from the mail server.

    They'll just have to get webmail somewhere if they'd like to send email...
  • by Firehed ( 942385 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @03:17AM (#15857794) Homepage
    If you mean to type .cm, chances are the domain actually exists, and you'll go to the website as you intended. They're not redirecting *.cm to an ad page, just (unregistered).cm. Like Verisign did with (unregistered).com until the tubes were all full of user backlash.
  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @03:22AM (#15857805)

    The problem is that .com isn't just US companies. And having domains by country isn't that useful. Given that you use .net and .org domains and aren't US-based, I'd have thought you'd understand this.

    I gather that the Cameron business is pretty serious. My take is that if all else fails, *.cm addresses can simply be blocked at the root DNS level till the .cm admins comply by removing the wildcard DNS entry.
  • Re:Not an issue. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by khallow ( 566160 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @03:25AM (#15857807)
    A difference that is irrelevant, might I add. As I mention elsewhere, there are plenty of options for dissuading the .cm admins. These include blocking *.cm entries at the root DNS servers. I think there's enough leverage there to stop this.
  • Re:Smart move. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by lord sibn ( 649162 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @07:45AM (#15858131)
    The US and A government claims itself to be Christian. Does that make it so? Not in the smallest.

    I know GW Bush claims to be Christian, but when it comes down to the metal, Christ never said "Thou shalt invade foreign nations for economic gain" or anything of the like. Bush does not represent Christianity, though he claims to so do.

    Christ said "turn the other cheek," not "If it suits you, declare war." Bush claims to represent Christian values and ends, but is not one smidgeon better than the terrorists he claims to oppose.

    If you want a smear campaign, you need not worry. It is already there. If you want to examine reality? I wonder whether John Q. Public is capable of doing so without prejudice.
  • by Bjarne Bula ( 11937 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @08:09AM (#15858195)
    While possibly the most visible effect, landing on a page full of ads when you wanted is the least of your problems.

    Remember, this is DNS, so this will affect not only your web browser, but all your Internet applications.

    So, guess what happens if you try to send a mail to Yup, it also gets the Cameroon treatment:
    $ telnet smtp
    Connected to (
    Escape character is '^]'.
    Even though the server currently will bounce your mail with a 550 Domain does not exist, they now have your email address and, with a quick typo-fix, that of your friend.

    Hey! Guess what country is next door to Cameroon? Yup, Nigeria. Now, who in Nigeria might want a fresh source of email addresses...? []

    And who is to say they bounce all mails? Or will continue to?
  • by icepick72 ( 834363 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @08:32AM (#15858252)
    Because the government of Cameroon is not Cameroon.
    That can be said about any country, anywhere, about the people and the government.

    This isn't just an attempt to grab cash; that's a side effect. This is to hamper the ability of opposition parties to use the Internet as a voice.
    Then they will have to find another voice. The masses aren't stupid. If they are being owned by a government, they know it, and if they don't like it they will do something sooner or later. BTW, some people don't mind being under a military or controlling government. It's not what everybody is accustomed to, but there are many ways to rule on the face of this earth.

    The government in Cameroon controls the TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers tightly; they don't want the Internet to be any different.
    Then practically speaking why should the Internet be any different? It makes sense in the context of that country.

    I can see no good reasons in this discussion why Cameroon (the government) cannot do what they want with their domain name. The exceptions are: we don't like typo-squatting, or we don't like the government. The government is representing the people whether outsiders agree with it or not, and even if the people being represented don't agree. Everybody else in the world is too opinionated about what other countries should do, whether it be a different ruling style or something as small as a domain name suffix. We don't like being told what we should do with our country's domain name suffix, so why should we care what another country (yes the government, not the people) does with theirs?
    (Actually, I expect to get many good reasons back about the history and politics and Cameroon and the people because I only know what I've read in the news and wiki -- I've never studied the country in depth.)
    Everybody who surfs the Internet has no doubt experienced a typo and a typo-squatter. People will correct the spelling and move on. The generic Cameroon page looks like any other page full of advertisements on the Internet. Nobody is going to think it's the actual destination they want to surf to.

  • by benjj ( 302095 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @10:10AM (#15858682) Homepage
    I'd rather live in a god-forsaken place than the US/UK where every other word out of a politician's mouth is "God."

    Actually, here in the UK, politicians tend to get laughed/sneered at when they mention the word "god". After all, we don't do god [].

  • by one4nine4two ( 683126 ) on Monday August 07, 2006 @05:27PM (#15861669) Homepage
    There seems to be some exception with Yahoo. [] takes you to a Yahoo 404 redirect page, but [] isn't found at all. Any other major site I've tried with .cm takes you to the ad page.

    But I usually assume it's just my computer.

"If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong." -- Norm Schryer