A simple URL tweak using a Latin character redirects unwitting users to a scam site.
Google Analytics is the latest target for cyber-spammers.
Canadian firm Analytics Edge early this month spotted a fake search engine appearing on Google’s data service as “secret.?oogle.com.”
But don’t confuse the familiar-looking link—which was accompanied by a message to “Vote for Trump”—with the authentic site.
Navigate to the address and you’ll be redirected to “xn--oogle-wmc.com,” which, in turns, brings you to a lengthy URL featuring the lyrics to Pink Floyd’s “Money.”
Based on a screenshot published by BGR—which was brave enough to click on the spammy link—the bizarre site offers instructions for use, as well as a message from Russian scammer Vitaly Popov, congratulating “all Americans” and President-elect Donald Trump.
Demonstrating how easy it is for hackers to register counterfeit domain names in an attempt to phish for personal data, Popov tweaked the Google.com URL ever so slightly: the leading “G” is not the traditional capital letter, but instead a Latin Letter Small Capital G—the character Unicode 0262.
With only a quick glance, the change is nearly indistinguishable.
It’s unlikely, though, that Popov’s spurious site will do any harm to visitors; according to BGR, the Russian native considers his scams “creative marketing.”
Still, folks should stay away from ?oogle.com (with a little “G”), and remember to keep a close eye on other URLs—particularly those connected to financial institutions or social networks—in the future.
Similar letter tweaks could lead to more harmful sites.
Google did not immediately respond to PCMag’s request for comment.
As Analytics Edge points out, international characters are slowly creeping into domain names, in an attempt to allow folks to create URLs in their native language.
Some enterprising cybercrooks, however, are using the feature for bad instead of good.
“Expect to see a sharp increase in phishing until the general public catches on,” company founder Mike Sullivan wrote in a recent blog entry.