Facebook sues Namecheap for registering deceptive domains

Such domains are used for phishing attacks.

Facebook, the social network company, has filed a lawsuit against Namecheap, a domain name registrar, and WhoisGuard, Namecheap’s proxy service, in Arizona for alleged cybersquatting and registering deceiving domain names that allegedly infringed on Facebook’s trademark.¬†

Christen Dubois, Director and Associate General Counsel of IP Litigation, said on the official Facebook blog that Namecheap and WhoisGuard are registering domains that can deceive people, believing that they are legitimate. On this Facebook.Inc put forward the legal proceedings against domain registrar on using such names for phishing, fraud, and scams. 

Facebook found 45 Deceptive Domains registered with Namecheap

The social giant, Facebook, claims to be a regular scanner for domain names and apps that breach its tradename and protect people from such abuses. Recently the company’s engineers tracked 45 doubtful domains that impersonated Facebook and its services registered under Namecheap.

Out of the 45 suspicious domains, Facebook mentioned a few that include instagrambusinesshelp.com, facebook-login.com, and whatsappdownload.site.

Besides hurting Facebook’s brand, these domains could, without much of a stretch, be used by cybercriminals to dispatch phishing assaults or trick users into social engineered hacks, and gain confidential and sensitive information.¬†

Facebook efforts against Deceptive Domains

Facebook has already sent many notices to WhoisGuard between October 2018 and February 2020. Instead of providing the information related to all fake domains, Namecheap declined to co-operate. Since they kept on registering domains with deceptive web addresses, Facebook kick in legal actions against the phony domain registrar.

Jessica Romero, Director of Platform Enforcement and Litigation, said, “We don’t want people to get deceived, so we track and take action against suspicious and misleading domains, including those registered using privacy/proxy services that allow owners to hide their identity. There are tens of millions of domain names on the web that have been registered using these privacy/proxy services. We proactively report instances of abuse to domain name registrars and privacy/proxy services and often collaborate with them to take down these malicious domains.”

Namecheap in response to Facebook litigation

Namecheap states an unparalleled level of services, security, and support and says they don’t bother unwanted, upselling, or aggressive advertising. Richard Kirkendall, CEO of Namecheap, in response to Facebook litigation,¬†noted¬†that “Namecheap takes every fraud and abuse allegation extremely seriously and diligently investigates each reported case of abuse. We want to be clear, we actively remove any evidence-based abuse of our services on a daily basis. Where there is no clear evidence of abuse, or it is purely a trademark claim, Namecheap will direct complainants, such as Facebook, to follow industry-standard protocol.”¬†

READ: Cryptojacking, a top cyberattack threat in 2020 and its prevention

When Facebook asked the domain name registrar to give the details of deceptive web addresses, Kirkendall said that “Outside of said protocol, a legal court order is always required to provide private user information.”

“Facebook may be willing to tread all over their customers’ privacy on their platform, and in this case, it appears they want other companies to do it for them, with their customers,” Kirkendall continued. “This is just another attack on privacy and due process to strong-arm companies that have services like WhoisGuard, intended to protect millions of Internet users’ privacy.” 

Facebook vs OnlineNIC

In October 2019, a similar lawsuit filed against OnlineNIC and its privacy/proxy service ID Shield and the proceedings are still continued. The company registered dozens of domain names that had used for malicious activities. The fake web addresses by OnlineNIC that pretend to affiliate with Facebook include www-facebook-login.com and facebook-mails.com. 

OnlineNIC Lawsuit History with Verizon

OnlineNIC is not only charged with registering the fake web addresses for the first time by Facebook. Back in 2008, Verizon had also sued OnlineNIC for registering 663 domain names, allegedly infringed to Verizon’s trademark. Luckily, Verizon won $33 million in that cybersquatting case. 

The case is under proceedings, and Facebook aims to create consequences for those who seek to harm and will continue to take legal action to protect people from domain name fraud and abuse. 

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