The coronavirus pandemic has influenced the life of every single person on the planet, so it is not surprising that the virtual world is affected by it too. Whatever happens in the months to follow, one thing is for sure – 2020 is going to be remembered as a year when most of the world’s population was quarantined for some time.
Information spread quickly, just like misinformation did. While millions of people were trying to find the cure and heal the population, the number of those who tried to capitalize on the current global health crisis was also impressive. Let us take a look at the unusual effect of coronavirus pandemic on domain market.
A great number of malicious domains appeared as a result of coronavirus pandemic
COVID-19 is a hot topic that attracts everyone’s attention, which makes it a perfect lure for all sorts of malicious attacks. The campaigns aiming to trick somebody into stealing their money, important information, or personal details usually include:
- malicious domains
- email spam
- BEC (Business Email Compromise)
It is a common fact that your brand name is the best SEO hack you’ve got. That is why the most common keywords used in malicious domains are exactly those that people search for: coronavirus, COVID-19, and vaccine. It makes sense that many legitimate organizations and companies made a purchase of the domains with keywords that reflect the current issue worldwide. But, since a domain can be bought for even less than a dollar, many suspicious subjects try to take advantage of the crisis situation.
The unrestricted domain name space is heaven for fraudulent companies and scammers. The extensions that fall into this category are .info, .io, .mobi, and .pro. The surge in the number of combinations of popular keywords (COVID-19, coronavirus, and vaccine) and unrestricted extensions such as those that have just been mentioned, was quite obvious in March. Since then, the number of such domains is rather constant.
Top-level domains feature domain name extensions such as .com, .gov, or .org. Reputable organizations, companies, and agencies will always go for these extensions since they show that they can be trusted, unlike the previously mentioned ones.
The figures also show the tremendous effect of coronavirus on domain market
The first cases of infection by COVID-19 were reported on Dec 31, 2019. Since then, the virus spread like wildfire all over the world. The same phenomenon happened in the virtual world. The domain name trends in 2020 show that 80 percent of the new domains registered this year contain one of the terms connected to the health crisis caused by the virus. The analyzed domain extension here is .info.
Among the most popular names in the domain market, the term “COVID” proved to be used in 40 percent of all names. Some 15 percent of names included a combination of the word COVID, a hyphen and the number 19. The term “coronavirus” was found in 16 percent of the domain names, while a quarter of new names contained the word “virus”. “Pandemic” was the term found in some 3 percent of the new domain names.
What are the most common examples of domain abuse?
Many of the malign domains are trying to lure people who are panic-buying. Face masks, rubber gloves, disinfecting products, and various medications were the most commonly used magnets for scamming.
Some malicious domains tried to impersonate the World Health Organization, as well as some other reputable health organizations. These domains were used for spreading false news and selling fraudulent and counterfeit products. Many of them were used as phishing baits too. Some required ransom money in order not to steal your data from the hacked device.
What was done in order to protect the citizens?
Many domain-selling companies decided to exclude the words that attract the greatest number of frauds from their domain offer. So, instead of taking down the fraudulent websites and their domains, they have opted for preventing the issue from happening in the first place. That is why the majority of them won’t let you choose COVID, coronavirus, or vaccine to be a part of a new domain name.
That doesn’t mean that the terms are completely banned from use – if you own a legitimate company that needs a domain containing any of the mentioned keywords, you will have to be prepared to go through some extra scrutiny. Your website’s profile will be inspected and you might be asked to provide more information than you usually would. A good citation company like azcitationservices.com can be helpful here since it can promote your business by submitting the necessary info to relevant websites.
Many suspicious names have been suspended so far. Governments and socially responsible companies are not only fighting this new illness but the people who are trying to prosper from it as well. Also, the Internet’s largest domain registers are urged to strengthen their measures and fight frauds even harder.
An interesting fact about registrations using the term COVID
There is one more interesting thing about top-level domains using the term COVID within their name. It turns out that some 80 percent of them are intended for real use rather than for scamming purposes. One of the indicators is that the organizations applying for them only bought one name, while scammers usually purchased more.
Those were some of the unusual effects of coronavirus pandemic on domain market. Hopefully, the pandemic will soon be under control and some other terms and keywords will become more popular in domain names.