MySpace.com URL hijacked using Cameroon’s country code top-level domain :)

I found this by coincidence, when I typed into my browser the URL of MySpace (www.myspace.com). For some strange reason I ended up at Ebay’s ‘Cars & Trucks’ section. For a second I though, I maybe clicked some other link by mistake, but soon I realized, this was indeed my own error. I’ve made a typo and typed in this URL: www.myspace.cm

As I later found, an extension .CM is the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Cameroon, a unitary republic of central Africa.
My first thought was it is some inside job and the way of Ebay to get little more visitors by hijacking MySpace.com using Cameroon’s top-level domain. But looking at this little closer, I found that hiting www.myspace.cm takes me first to this page: http://www.icarfinder.com/ebayafflink.html.

So I did a Icarfinder.com’s Whois look-up and it came up with this info:
Domain Name: ICARFINDER.COM
Registrar: GKG.NET, INC.
Whois Server: whois.gkg.net
Referral URL: http://www.gkg.net
Name Server: NS4.LUNARPAGES.COM
Name Server: NS5.LUNARPAGES.COM
Status: clientTransferProhibited
Updated Date: 10-sep-2006
Creation Date: 05-mar-2004
Expiration Date: 05-mar-2007

I also checked GKG.net but it doesn’t look like they registered the domain and I’m sure it’s not them typosquatting MySpace.com.
Little check on GKG.net showed in fact, that they’re apparently an accredited company (probably by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), or by a national ccTLD authority or maybe both) and they make domains available for general public to register through their site at www.gkg.net.

So I went back to icarfinder.com and checked their site’s ‘About iCarFinder.com’. It starts like this:
“About iCarFinder.com – We are a company that is solely dedicated to helping people find the best and cheapest car out there!” …

Ha ha, looks like they are taking all possible steps to help us :)

Anyhow, seems like they are the ones profiting from URL-hijacked MySpace.com, because myspace.cm goes through their icarfinder site, directly (using URL forwarding) to Ebay’s
http://motors.search.ebay.com/cars_Cars-Trucks_W0QQcatrefZC12QQfromZR3QQfsooZ1QQfsopZ1QQkeywordZonQQsacatZ6001QQstrkwZ website.

Judging by the first and the second link, it looks like they are also Ebay’s affiliate.

Here comes to my mind, “holy smokes”, this must be quite a profitable business. Should a user accidentally enter an incorrect myspace.com website address, they’ll be led to this alternative address owned by a cybersquatter (iCarFinder) and if someone buys a car or truck, they make a profit… :)

I’m sure I am not alone who makes this typo, Myspace.com reportedly attracts new registrations at a rate of 230,000 per day, and they’re also the third most popular website in the United States. So there must be lot of users making this mistake. Now I really wonder how much money is this particular case of Typo-squatting (URL hijacking) generating. Especially on cars and trucks, where affiliate commission must be a good portion of the car price.

Anyhow, MySpace.com is probably well aware of cases like this one or maybe they aren’t, but I wonder in general, can these major .com companies do anything about misuse of Cameroon’s ccTLD?

Also, just as a curiosity, I wanted to mention that in August 2006, it was reported that the .cm registry had set up a wild-card DNS record, so that all unregistered domains in this top-level domain go to a parking page with paid search links. Wikipedia reports, that this was likely intended by Cameroon’s registry to take advantage of typographical errors by users attempting to reach .com web sites. Someone in Cameroon trying to make little cash? :)

Anyhow, in this case, it looks like Cameroon got cheated by iCarFinder.com :)

Refs:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typosquatting
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cameroon
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.cm
http://www.whois.net/


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