Security News

Soundsquatting 101: How Homophones Can Lead to Risks

October 16, 2014

Soundsquatting 101 View infographic: Soundsquatting 101

With all the time that we spend on the Internet, whether we’re browsing for answers or information, reading the latest news, or simply connecting with our friends on our social networking sites, it’s easy to get distracted by advertisements, offers, and even viral videos. As such, it isn’t uncommon for cybercriminals to use visual foolery techniques like intentionally misspelling domain names to lead users to fake websites. These sites may contain news hoaxes, fraudulent donations pleas, and spammed messages that ultimately phishes for user information and steals money.

But what happens when we’re tricked into dubious sites unwittingly despite being careful enough? If you've ever tried using voice command software for browsing before, there's a chance you might have been led to a malicious site that has been set up to take advantage of erroneous voice-to-text conversions.

Soundsquatting is a domain squatting technique that takes advantage of homophones, or words that have similar sounds but have a different spelling. Though soundsquatting targets mostly sound-dependent users (most of which are visually impaired), ordinary users are still susceptible to such attacks. Non-native English users for example might search for words that sound similar to one another for example, “wait” when they mean “weight”, could lead them to a malicious site, due to the large proportion of domain variations.

[More: Soundsquatting: Uncovering the Use of Homophones in Domain Squatting]

To avoid these potentially risky mistakes, users who depend on assistive technologies must switch text-to-speech software to a “spelling mode” to allow them to analyze the intended command properly. It’s also better to double-check with another source before clicking on results. Learn more about soundsquatting and how you can avoid unintentionally landing on malicious domains by reading our infographic Soundsquatting 101.

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Soundsquatting 101

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