CSC released its third annual Domain Security Report that found three out of four Forbes Global 2000 companies have not adopted key domain security measures—exposing them to high risk of security threats. These companies have implemented less than half of all domain security measures.
In addition, lookalike domains are targeting those companies as well—with 75% of homoglyph registrations being registered to unrelated third parties. That means many of the world’s largest brands contend with maliciously registered domains that look like their brands.
The intent of these fake domain registrations is to leverage the trust placed on the targeted brand to launch phishing attacks or other forms of digital brand abuse, or IP infringement that leads to revenue loss, traffic diversion, and a diminished brand reputation. Homoglyph domains are just some of the endless domain spoofing tactics and permutations that can be used by phishers and malicious third parties.
Additional key takeaways
137 companies (6.8%) had a domain security score of “0”
Not deploying any of the recommended domain security measures puts these companies at risk for a variety of attacks, including but not limited to domain and DNS hijacking attacks, network and data breaches, phishing and ransomware attacks, and business email compromise (BEC).
45% of companies that use enterprise-class domain registrars also deploy registry lock
Registry lock is a highly cost-effective means to protect domain names against accidental or unauthorized modifications or deletions. Only 5% of companies that use consumer-grade registrars have registry lock deployed. Additionally, only six organizations within the Global 2000 had the highest overall domain security score, which correlates with their use of an enterprise-class registrar.
DMARC is the only domain security measure with significantly increased adoption this year
Given all the news about phishing attacks—including their increase in volume and complexity—it’s no surprise that domain-based message authentication, reporting, and conformance (DMARC) adoption has increased by 12 percentage points in the last 12 months. However, growth in other domain security measures, such as registry lock, domain name system (DNS) redundancy, DNS security extensions (DNSSEC), and certificate authority authorization (CAA) records saw limited increases year-over-year.
“This report shows that while some progress has been made, a majority of the companies listed in the Forbes Global 2000 are still overlooking full implementation of foundational domain security measures,” says Mark Calandra, president of CSC’s Digital Brand Services.
“A focus on securing legitimate domains while monitoring for malicious domains in parallel needs to be a bigger priority for companies that are advocating for a zero trust model to stay protected and thwart cyber risk. Otherwise, companies are exposing themselves to significant enterprise risks that can impact their cyber security posture, data protection, intellectual property, supply chains, consumer safety, revenue, and reputation.”
The report also found that 82% of the third parties registering homoglyph domains are actively masking their identity. This demonstrates the attempt to hide their ownership, showing they may have some nefarious intentions. Additionally, 48% have MX records in 2022, compared to 43% in 2021. MX records can be used to send phishing emails or to intercept email.