Report: Phishing, Cybersquatting On The Upswing

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Drug-related cybersquatting appears to be on the rise, according to a new report by MarkMonitor.

The brand protection company recently found more than 19,000 cybersquatting domains for six of the top pharmaceutical brand names, marking a 9% increase from last year.

For the report, this July MarkMonitor examined cybersquatting domains for drugs in half a dozen categories: lifestyle, sleep aid, anti-anxiety, anti-cholesterol, digestive aid and anti-flu. Any domain names that used the brand names in the URL without authorization -- such as www.CheapDrugX.com or www.LowCostDrugX.com -- were considered cybersquatting sites.

Te Smith, MarkMonitor's vice president of communication, says the company advises brands to send cease-and-desist letters to cybersquatters. She estimates that sending such a letter is enough to get results in approximately 50% of cybersquatting incidences.

Cybersquatting sites are just one way of driving traffic to illicit online pharmacies. MarkMonitor also reported that spam emails and ads on search engines resulted in visits to online pharmacies that are not certified.

"Buying drugs online continues to be fraught with fraudsters and continues to be popular because of the high demand for inexpensive medicines," the report states.

MarkMonitor reported that only four online pharmacies, out of a total of 2,930, were certified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy's Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites program. The uncertified pharmacies offered discounts as high as 90%.

MarkMonitor separately looked at phishing attacks -- or efforts to create sites that appear legitimate, but really lure consumers into disclosing information that can be used for identity theft. The company reported there were 151,000 unique phish attacks in the second quarter -- a new high, according to MarkMonitor. The U.S. reportedly hosted 50% of phish sites -- far more than any other single country. Canada hosted 13%, while Germany accounted for 3.6%, according to the report.

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