Research Output
Hiding in Plain Sight: A Longitudinal Study of Combosquatting Abuse
  Domain squatting is a common adversarial practice where attackers register domain names that are purposefully similar to popular domains. In this work, we study a specific type of domain squatting called "combosquatting," in which attackers register domains that combine a popular trademark with one or more phrases (e.g., betterfacebook[.]com, youtube-live[.]com). We perform the first large-scale, empirical study of combosquatting by analyzing more than 468 billion DNS records - collected from passive and active DNS data sources over almost six years. We find that almost 60% of abusive combosquatting domains live for more than 1,000 days, and even worse, we observe increased activity associated with combosquatting year over year. Moreover, we show that combosquatting is used to perform a spectrum of different types of abuse including phishing, social engineering, affiliate abuse, trademark abuse, and even advanced persistent threats. Our results suggest that combosquatting is a real problem that requires increased scrutiny by the security community.

  • Date:

    30 October 2017

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    ACM Press

  • DOI:


  • Library of Congress:

    QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    005.8 Data security

  • Funders:

    National Science Foundation; Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; Office of Naval Research; U.S. Department of Commerce


Kintis, P., Miramirkhani, N., Lever, C., Chen, Y., Romero-Gómez, R., Pitropakis, N., …Antonakakis, M. (2017). Hiding in Plain Sight: A Longitudinal Study of Combosquatting Abuse. In CCS '17 Proceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security



Domain squatting, Combosquatting, network security, domain name system,

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    Hiding in Plain Sight: A Longitudinal Study of Combosquatting Abuse


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    CCS ’17, October 30-November 3, 2017, Dallas, TX, USA
    © 2017 Association for Computing Machinery.
    ACM ISBN 978-1-4503-4946-8/17/10. . . $15.00

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