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Hacking Teachers & Doppelganger Domains: The New Scams

Criminals are constantly reinventing ways to infiltrate your personal information. From hackers, to credit card fraud, to identity theft- if there is something of yours of value, someone out there is figuring out how to obtain it. Security is so crucial, not only physically, but also virtually. Here at VinTech, we hope to teach you about what’s out there, and why you should be aware of it.


We just learned about an underground hacking convention called DefCon, where attendees pay a flat fee of $150 in cash, and are not required to show ID. Apparently, this convention offered seminars geared at children, aged 8-16. “Kids can learn such crucial skills as how to pick locks, screw in and wire circuits, hack computer hardware and monitor network traffic.”

It is claimed that by teaching children hacking, it is to encourage “positive hacking” and to engage them “in the hopes that they will follow the path of many of Defcon’s “ethical hackers” – that is, security-crackers who seek to help developers improve their technology.”

Is it wrong to teach children to hack? Can we “hope” a child will follow a path? Children need to be taught right from wrong. Instead of taking your child to a hacking convention, why not teach them the flip side, such as cyber security? Here in Chicago, the expert in cyber security is Mesa Technology.

Credit Card Fraud

We previously blogged about the dangers of credit card fraud, and why it’s so important to be PCI Compliant. Not only can it cause devastating fines if you’re hacked, it also compromises your security, and your client’s private information. If you’re not already PCI Compliant, we highly recommend doing so. Our partner, Arrow Payments, can answer any question you may have about becoming PCI Compliant.

Doppelganger Domains

Doppelganger domains, or “domain typo-squatting” are the newest scams every company should be aware of.

How doppelganger domains work, is these domains mimic legitimate domains, and rely on being “spelled almost identically to legitimate domains, but differ slightly, such as a missing period separating a subdomain name from a primary domain name – as in the case of as opposed to the real domain that IBM uses for its division in Sweden.”

According to the Wired article, the slightly typo’d domain managed to accumulate 20 gigabytes of misaddressed e-mail over a six month period, outlining secure information including:

  • employee usernames and passwords
  • sensitive security information about the configuration of corporate network architecture that would be useful to hackers
  • affidavits and other documents related to litigation in which the companies were embroiled
  • trade secrets, such as contracts for business transactions

All of this information was obtained passively by simply setting up a doppelganger domain and e-mail server. But someone could also do a more active man-in-the-middle attack between entities at two companies known to be corresponding. The attacker could set up doppelganger domains for both entities and wait for mistyped correspondence to come in to the doppelganger server, then set up a script to forward that e-mail to the rightful recipient.”

Companies that have already fallen victim to this are Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, Yahoo and Manpower. “Out of the 30 doppelganger domains they set up, only one company noticed when they registered the domain”, and “out of 120,000 e-mails that people had mistakenly sent to their doppelganger domains, only two senders indicated they were aware of the mistake.”

Don’t let this happen to you! In order to avoid this, make sure to purchase any doppelganger domains that are still available for your company. If they have already been purchased, it is recommended “that companies configure their networks to block DNS and internal e-mails sent by employees that might get incorrectly addressed to the doppelganger domains.”

VinTech hopes you have learned about some of the newer scams out there. If you have any questions about security, please feel free to address them on our Facebook page.

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