Vulnerability Allows Malicious Domain Registration

I recently was reading a publication on security and came across this major zero-day vulnerability that has affected many different SaaS (Software-as-a-service) platforms and some major domain registrars.

This vulnerability is particularly interesting as it allows domain registration to include specific “homoglyphs.” You may be asking, “What is a homoglyph?” A homoglyph is a letter, character, or glyph with shapes that appear identical or very similar to another letter, character, or glyph.

Think about the most common ones, the letter “O” (as a capital) and the number “0” (zero). They look very similar but are, in fact, very different. Another one would be the letter “l” (lowercase) and the letter “i” (capital). This can be deceiving as some sites may look like the legitimate website when navigating to them from a hyperlink in an email.

The nature of this attack can be very similar to an IDN homograph attack, which according to Wikipedia, is a way a malicious party may deceive computer users about what remote system they are communicating with, by exploiting the fact that many different characters look alike (i.e., they are homographs, hence the term for the attack, although technically homoglyph is the more accurate term for different characters that look alike).

This attack usually is attempting to steal credentials or drop malware on to unsuspecting users. This is particularly dangerous when the domain is of high value. See some examples below of these malicious domains.

malicious domains

Look at the first one in the list——you can see the letter “a” is different for each occurrence of the letter. The first a is the correct one, but the second “a” is the homoglyph and where the spoofing starts. Note particularly how unless you are actively looking for this, you most likely will not notice the differences.

I have seen emails like this out in the wild as recently as a few weeks ago, which means this is active and in use today. Also, you should keep in mind that these can be utilized in any form of digital communication where we are expecting users to click on links. This includes many business functions like email, chat, collaboration applications, documents, and PDF files. This is an example of a highly targeted social-engineering or phishing attacks against users, customers, or employees of the spoofed domain.

If you want to learn more about how Sikich can protect you from malicious domain registration and other new emerging threats, reach out to our team now and start the conversation!

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