The dark side of domain names

Christian Lund
May 15 · 4 min read

In the murky, cut-throat world of internet domain names, not all domains are created equal. This article explores the different types of dark domains and how you can shield your domain portfolio from savvy domain pirates and squatters.

First: An ownership primer

Domain Sniping

One way to prevent domain pirates from sniping your name, is to enable automatic renewal of your domain names, a service offered by most major registrars. Still, domains are not deleted immediately after they expire — a grace period of 1–3 months is provided, where the domain is simply disabled and not possible to be snapped up by a third party. Email notifications are usually sent to the domain registrant during the period, so be sure to update your contact details with your registrar.

  • Enable automatic renewal of domain registrations.
  • Keep your registration contact details up to date.

Parked domains

At Webxtrakt we estimate that more than half of all registered domains are in one way or another parked. This is one of the reasons why it can be really difficult to find available domain names.

  • Parked domains are usually for sale.

Domain (cyber)squatting

The dispute process is unfortunately not centralised and you will need to follow the local guidelines for every top level extension you want to address.

For generic top level domains the process is more complicated, partly because trademark regulations might not apply, and while it is possible to have registration of brand names locked at top extension level, it may be futile or too costly in some cases, take for example these available Ikea domains: ikea.mom, ikea.review, ikea.bank.

  • Register your business name or brand as a trademark.

Typo squatting

Some businesses take care to cover common typo squatting variations of their trademarks, but like domain squatting, this can quickly become time consuming and costly to monitor.

Examples of typo squatting:

  • Alphanumeric swapping: eg. appel.com
  • Missing alphanumerics: eg. aple.com
  • Adjacent alphanumerics (QWERTY or AZERTY): eg. applr.com or p0lice.com
  • Misspellings: eg. abble.com

Typo squatting can also occur at top domain level, take for example tv2.dk and tv2.sk — on a QWERTY keyboard this is a common typo.

Phishing domains

  • Lookalike numerics: eg. app1e.com
  • Internationalised domain name (IDN) homographs: eg. ɑpple.com
  • Sub domains: eg. apple.store.com

Phishing domains can be especially tricky to spot if they are used in emails or if your computer’s system font lacks clear distinct between glyphs.

Got you interested in domain names?
Webxtrakt has compiled 6 billion domain data points and our constantly growing database has exceeded 206 million searchable domain names. Be sure to also check out the list of top ranked domain names.

Webxtrakt

Largest collection of domain names

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