Oct 16, 2019 - Politics & Policy

"Typosquatting" is a problem for 2020 candidates


Screenshot via Billdebiasio.com

2020 candidates face around 550 websites that aim to "typosquat" — or provide unintended content via a misspelling — their campaigns, according to a new report from Digital Shadows.

How it works: Users who go to Tulsi2020.co rather than Tulsi2020.com would find themselves redirected to a political rival's page — in this case, Marianne Williamson's — but the tactic can be used for a wide variety of purposes.

The big picture: Around 68% of typosquatted sites redirect to some kind of incorrect page. They can send users to a rival campaign, toward malicious browser extensions or other such surprises.

  • Elizibethwarren.com will take you to President Trump's campaign page.
  • If you misspell WinRed, the Republican fundraising site, and you'll arrive at ActBlue, the Democratic fundraising portal.

8% of sites contained wildly unofficial content about the candidate in the web site address.

  • Those ranged from fan sites, like KamalaHarris.fr, or more malicious attacks, like Billdebiasio.com.
  • Digital Shadows notes that a bootleg message can cause brand damage to a candidate.
Screenshot via KamalaHarris.fr

The remaining 24% of typosquatted sites were non-malicious sites with little content relating to the candidate.

Go deeper: 5 takeaways from last night's Democratic debate

Go deeper