GoDaddy goes to war against fake supplements online
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GoDaddy goes to war against fake supplements online

If you’ve ever read the contents of your spam email folder, you will probably be aware of the huge trade online in dodgy health supplements. The pitches are not usually sophisticated: this pill will enlarge something, that potion can make you a genius, and this supplement can cure the incurable. And while many of us might question how people could fall for such transparent scams, the world is full of people desperate or ignorant enough to buy unregulated supplements from online snake oil salesmen.

But now, thanks to GoDaddy, the world’s largest website hosting company, these peddlers of the pseudo-miraculous will have a harder time parting the gullible from their cash. The company recently announced that, in partnership with security firm Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42, it’s taken down 15,000 subdomains engaged in the sale of fake pharmaceuticals.

GoDaddy’s share price has risen by 19% year to date

20 05 godaddy

Source: Yahoo Finance

These scams usually run like this: an “affiliate” (i.e.: someone who will get a cut of the profit when a sale is made) sets up a website that seems legitimate, but every link that you click on takes you to an order form. If you’re unwise enough to actually put in your card details and order whatever’s being hawked at you, then you’re likely to find yourself on the wrong end of a large recurring payment.

However, researchers noticed that the domain names on many of these sites were… well, unusual. That’s when it clicked – someone(s) had managed to co-opt a huge number of GoDaddy websites, and fill them with spam. This is not unusual – hackers routinely manage to fool people with phishing scams, where (for example) they build a “login” page for a user’s favourite service and send them a link to that page (usually via a false email along the lines of “your account has been accessed by a new user. To reset your password, please login to your account”). When the hapless victim enters their login details, the hacker gets an entry into their online life.

In a statement recommending how users can avoid such scams in the future, GoDaddy wrote: “GoDaddy recommends using multifactor authentication and different passwords on different services to avoid these types of attacks from being successful. GoDaddy takes the security of our network and our customers’ accounts very seriously, and we’ll continue to collaborate with the security community to identify and resolve these types of attacks.”


Dominion holds GoDaddy in its Global Trends Managed Fund.

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