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Misspelled Google domains redirect to affiliate programs  (View post)

Colin Colehour [PersonRank 10]

Saturday, December 8, 2007
12 years ago8,207 views

Just noticed that if you mistype certain Google domains , they redirect to different affiliate programs.

Affected domains:
www.google.cm – Redirects to Netflix affiliate program
www.gmail.cm – Redirects to Netflix affiliate program
mail.google.cm – Redirects to Blockbuster affiliate program
youtube.cm – Redirects to an ad page.
grandcentral.cm – Redirects to agoga.com

The .cm TLD belongs to Cameroon. I stumbled upon the first redirected domain name after I misstyped gmail.com. Wonder how many visitors end up on the wrong web site because of a misspelling with .com domain names.

George R [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

If you use OpenDNS as your DNS, they have an option (on by default) that corrects .cm to .com except for a few hundred legitimate sites.

OpenDNS .cm faq:
opendns.com/support/article/5

OpenDNS .cm blog posts:
blog.opendns.com/category/cctl ...

Times Online article by Jonathan Richards,
"Cameroon strikes it rich on the internet":
technology.timesonline.co.uk/t ...

Juha-Matti Laurio [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

A very interesting finding!

Above 3 comments were made in the forum before this was blogged,

Colin Colehour [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

What's the law on domain squatting on individual country TLDs? Can Google take the Cameroon registrar to court over the domain Google.cm?

macbeach [PersonRank 6]

12 years ago #

If you use the default Verizon DNS servers they are doing some sneaky stuff as well. I happened to notice this on the very first day it went into effect. As far as I know they didn't notify users in any way. Once you discover it they provide a way to "opt out" but it involves technical issues beyond the typical Internet user.

I find this behavior disgusting.

A good excuse to cancel my Netflix subscription (I didn't need much of a push).

Stephen Tordoff [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Colin,
IIRC, they get around laws such as domain squatting and trademarks by saying that they automatically target all domains, and that popular ones are attributed to specific schemes. Most, however, lead to agoga . com .

As far as I know, the targeting of Google / YouTube domain to separate sites is done on traffic.

I have read an article that involved technical information given by the owners of agoga . com, but unfortunately I have lost the link.

Piotr Konieczny [PersonRank 9]

12 years ago #

That's an old issue... there was an interview with the guy behind agoga somewhere (will try to find it and post it below).

They use not only .cm for com but also .ne (Niger) for net, and some other typo-like domains. That guy even made an official deal with Camerun's gov – pretty clever move, as for now, he has all NXDOMAINs redirected to agoga (ad sites)...

Marc-O [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

the guy (and article I think) you're looking for is Kevin Ham

article here: money.cnn.com/magazines/busine ...

This is a pretty wonderful shot of typosquatting, because it's technically not squatting at all. Ham doesn't own these addresses, he just gets all the redirection from in .cm invalid addresses.

OpenDNS [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

Why is OpenDNS also putting ads for non resolvable domains? Pot calling the kettle black?

Colin Colehour [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I'm shocked that people haven't put up more of a fuss over this. Verisign did something similar to this back in 2003 with the .com domains and they got a lot of bad press and was finally forced to quit the operation.

icann.org/announcements/adviso ...

Keith Chan [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I think (if they can) register googlec.om

Floris Fiedeldij Dop [PersonRank 2]

12 years ago #

If those domains are used commercially then Google has to protect their trademark and fight it, or they run the risk losing their trademark.

Stephen Tordoff [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Google.cm can register the google.cm if they wish, only unregistered domains redirect to agoga

Antonio Manfredonio [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

and the gmail.it redirect to a cosmetic store.

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