The Curious Case of Seychelles Domains

It’s summertime for our part of the world. The moment when we all dream of bright blue oceans and sandy white beaches. One of the places where you can find such idyllic images is Seychelles, a small country off the coast of Africa. It has just under a hundred thousand inhabitants and is a popular holiday destination. But there seems to be another, more unexpected thing Seychelles is perfect for. In addition to hosting visitors on their summer break, Seychelles is also great at hosting domains.

That is at least what many people seem to agree on. Despite its relatively small population of just under 100.000 people, the country has almost 35.000 sites hosted there. This means that either Seychellois love having their own online page, or others are also using the country to keep their site live.

Let’s do a small comparison to put these numbers into perspective. In Croatia, we find just over 25.000 hosted domains but they have more than 4 million inhabitants. Another country that comes close in the number of hosted domains is Lithuania with 37.000 websites but they have 2.8 million people living there. With these digits in mind, it’s safe to say that the domains hosted versus inhabitants ratio of Seychelles is pretty high. So what’s going on?

Photo by Sebastien on Unsplash

Off the Coast Privacy

There is a reason that so many website owners flock to Seychelles to host their site. The country is one of several places around the world that offers offshore web hosting with a high degree of anonymity. You can host a site there by paying with Bitcoin, providing only minimal personal information and have your online page running in no time.

While this doesn’t mean that everyone who hosts a website in Seychelles does so with malicious intent, the high privacy and difficult traceability of pages does make the country an interesting place for cybercriminals to turn to. We see this in the percentage of websites that are marked as ‘suspicious’ by Dataprovider.com’s standards: of the 35.000 websites hosted in Seychelles, we have flagged 10.500 sites as untrustworthy.

Counterfeit Products

The majority of these websites seem to aim for the unsuspecting shopper. Almost 84 percent mention big brand names on their page and offer those with unbelievable discounts.

Popular brands with these counterfeiters are Adidas (56 percent), Nike (55 percent), and Puma (31 percent). And don’t be fooled into thinking that sites hosted in Seychelles only use the country’s top-level domain to reach potential buyers: the most used domain extensions are com (19 percent), uk (15 percent) and de (12 percent). It shows that bad actors behind these websites try to reach an international audience with their eCommerce scam.

It’s not just clothing and sneakers that criminals use to lure in the online consumer. Other products being sold on these online stores are illegal hormone supplements, subscription medicine, and even electronic devices.

Stay Safe While Shopping

For the average Internet user it might not be easy to see whether a website is hosted in Seychelles, or to always know whether you are dealing with a fraudulent online store. That’s why Dataprovider.com had created a free tool that you can use as a second opinion: our Chrome Extension detects fake online stores and gives you a warning as soon as you land on a page that you shouldn’t trust.

If you’d like more information on Dataprovider.com’s tools to detect counterfeit websites and how you can keep yourself or your brand’s clients safe, contact us via info@dataprovider.com.