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Morgan Stanley’s interesting domain name patent application

Company proposes a way to determine if a domain name might trick web users.

Image for Morgan Stanley patent application showing a distorted view of a domain containing typos and non-latin characters

Could this domain trick someone?

I often come across domain name-related patent applications filed by internet security companies. But it was interesting to see financial services company Morgan Stanley file one.

The company filed application number 16/059707 (pdf) for “Optically Analyzing Domain Names” in 2018 and it was just published on February 13, 2020.

The patent covers a method of analyzing if a domain name might trick a user, thus making the domains phishing candidates.

Consider a name that swaps in ‘cl’ for ‘d’. Optically, these are very similar. But a scanning tool based only on closeness of letters might overlook it. The same goes for internationalized domain names (IDNs).

Morgan Stanley proposes changing the text of a domain name into images with various fonts and distortions, and then using OCR to convert that image back into text. Then a system can analyze similarity to target URLs.

Post link: Morgan Stanley’s interesting domain name patent application

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