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What is Unicode Domain Phishing?

Unicode Domain Phishing exploits the visual similarities between characters in different alphabets to create deceptive web addresses. By using characters from non-Latin scripts that closely resemble Latin letters, attackers can craft domains that appear nearly identical to legitimate ones, thereby tricking users into visiting malicious sites.

Unicode Domain Phishing Explained

Unicode Domain Phishing, also known as script spoofing or internationalized domain name (IDN) homograph attack, is a type of cyber attack where attackers exploit the visual similarity of characters from different scripts to deceive users. By registering domain names with characters that look like those from familiar Latin script, but are actually from other scripts like Cyrillic, Greek, or Armenian, attackers create deceptive URLs. These URLs appear legitimate to the unsuspecting user, leading them to malicious websites designed to steal sensitive information such as passwords and account details.

How Unicode Domain Phishing Works

Unicode Domain Phishing exploits the Unicode standard's vast array of over 136,000 characters across 139 scripts, using visually similar characters from non-Latin alphabets like Cyrillic and Greek to deceive users. For example, the Cyrillic "а" can be confused with the Latin "a," leading users to malicious sites that mimic legitimate ones.

Modern browsers may convert these deceptive URLs to a more recognizable ASCII format using Punycode to mitigate confusion. This attack method relies on certain Unicode characters' visual similarity to craft legitimate URLs, directing victims to fake sites where they may unknowingly divulge sensitive information.

How to Identify and Protect Against Unicode Domain Phishing Attacks

Email is a common vector for Unicode Domain Phishing attacks. Attackers often send emails that include links to malicious sites disguised as legitimate ones using Unicode characters. These emails might appear to come from trusted sources, prompting users to click on links that lead to phishing websites designed to steal sensitive information such as login credentials, personal data, or financial information.

  • Look for Visual Inconsistencies: Pay close attention to URLs, especially when visiting sensitive sites. Minor differences in characters can indicate a phishing attempt.
  • Check for Punycode: Most modern browsers can display Punycode in the address bar. Look for URLs starting with "xn--" to identify potentially deceptive domains.
  • Verify Secure Connections: Always ensure that the website uses HTTPS, indicated by a padlock symbol in the address bar. However, note that some phishing sites might also have valid SSL certificates.
  • Use Browser Security Features: Enable safe browsing features and keep your browser updated to benefit from the latest security patches and warnings.
  • Be Cautious with Emails: Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails, especially those that create a sense of urgency or ask for personal information.


Unicode Domain Phishing
Attack Prevention

IRONSCALES offers advanced email security solutions that help prevent Unicode Domain Phishing attacks. Our platform provides the following features:

  • Automated Threat Detection: IRONSCALES uses AI and machine learning to detect and block phishing attempts, including those involving deceptive Unicode domains.
  • Advanced Malware and URL Protection: Our platform includes advanced malware and URL protection capabilities that scrutinize and block malicious links and attachments, preventing engagement with deceptive and malicious URLs.
  • Phishing Simulation Testing and User Training: IRONSCALES enables organizations to simulate phishing scenarios that leverage Unicode Domain Phishing tactics to provide specialized training on identifying and mitigating these types of threats.
  • Incident Response: Our automated incident response capabilities quickly identify and neutralize phishing threats, minimizing potential damage.

Learn more about IRONSCALES advanced anti-phishing platform here. Get a demo of IRONSCALES™ today!  https://ironscales.com/get-a-demo/

 

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