Working together to counter fake online shops

Fraudsters are using .ch domain names for scams where customers are lured in by brand-name products and then ripped off. SWITCH is working with the Swiss authorities to nip these frauds in the bud as early as possible.

Text: Séverine Jagmetti, published on 28.08.2017

These professional-looking online shops usually sell trainers or other accessories from big-name brands at unbeatable prices. Multiple dangers await buyers on these sites: they give criminal organisations access to their credit card details and email and postal addresses, and receive fake products – or none at all – in return.

SWITCH supports the authorities

When the Federal Office of Police (fedpol) or another authority such as the Federal Gaming Board (FGB), the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) or Swissmedic encounters a dubious website, it often turns to SWITCH. It’s usually impossible to contact the domain name owner, as they have registered using a false or foreign address, and taking action against a website operator abroad requires a very time-consuming legal process.

If an authority suspects cybercrime and turns to SWITCH for assistance. The foundation then requests that the owner provide a valid Swiss address within 30 days. This request is fulfilled in less than one percent of cases. If the deadline passes without a response, SWITCH deletes the domain name and the website is no longer accessible.

Optimising processes

SWITCH’s security experts have been actively and successfully combating cybercrimes such as phishing scams and malware for years, and we act just as decisively against fraudulent online shops.

In 2016, the Swiss authorities asked SWITCH to request a valid contact address from a domain name owner in a total of 737 cases. There have already been 5,075 cases since the beginning of this year. In order to manage the greatly increased number of requests, SWITCH recently introduced a tool to automate request processing. This enabled us to remove 4,469 fraudulent websites from the internet in August 2017 alone.

.ch is the most secure TLD in Europe

All these measures aim to maintain the trustworthiness and security of .ch domain names and to protect them from abuse. The close cooperation between SWITCH and the authorities in the case of fake online shops represents a further step towards quality maintenance for .ch, the most secure top level domain (TLD) in Europe.

More information
28 August 2017: Media release
19 May 2017: 30 years of .ch: Europe’s most secure address
25 January 2016: Publication Security on the Internet: Trends, threats, strategies
Safer Internet initiative
Ordinance on Internet Domains OID
Fedpol reporting form

SWITCH-CERT – a leading national centre of expertise

SWITCH has been working hard to make the Internet a safer place for more than 20 years and is one of the leading Swiss organisations for local threat intelligence, detection and incident response. SWITCH-CERT sets itself apart in a number of ways:

  • local threat intelligence and detection based on monitoring, malware analysis and correlation from a variety of sources
  • a track record stretching back some ten years as CERT for a number of Swiss banks
  • extensive experience in managing and moderating trusted communities at the highest level of trust
  • a national and international network of partnerships and CERT communities built up systematically over 20 years and actively nurtured
  • its own data network for the Swiss academic community with around 400,000 users as a basis for monitoring
  • a unique combination of CERT and ccTLD registry
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