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CAPEC-632: Homograph Attack via Homoglyphs

Homograph Attack via Homoglyphs
Definition in a New Window Definition in a New Window
Attack Pattern ID: 632
Abstraction: Detailed
Status: Draft
Completeness: Stub
Presentation Filter:
+ Summary

An adversary registers a domain name containing a homoglyph, leading the registered domain to appear the same as a trusted domain. A homograph attack leverages the fact that different characters among various character sets look the same to the user. Homograph attacks must generally be combined with other attacks, such as phishing attacks, in order to direct Internet traffic to the adversary-controlled destinations.

+ Attack Steps
  1. Determine target website: The adversary first determines which website to impersonate, generally one that is trusted and receives a consistent amount of traffic.

    Research popular or high traffic websites.

  1. Impersonate trusted domain: In order to impersonate the trusted domain, the adversary needs to register the URL containing the homoglpyh character(s).

    Register the Homograph domain.

  1. Deceive user into visiting domain: Finally, the adversary needs to deceive a user into visiting the Homograph domain.

    Execute a phishing attack and send a user an e-mail convincing the to click on a link leading the user to the malicious domain.

+ Alternate Terms

Term: Homoglyph Attack

+ Attack Prerequisites
  • An adversary requires knowledge of popular or high traffic domains, that could be used to deceive potential targets.

+ Typical Severity


+ Typical Likelihood of Exploit

Likelihood: Low

+ Methods of Attack
  • Spoofing
  • Analysis
  • Social Engineering
+ Examples-Instances


An adversary sends an email, impersonating bankofamerica.com to a user stating that they have just received a new deposit and to click the given link to confirm the deposit.

However, the link the in email is bankofamerica.com, where the 'a' and 'e' characters are Cyrillic and not ASCII, instead of bankofamerica.com (all ASCII), which the user clicks after carefully reading the URL, making sure that typosquatting and soundsquatting attacks are not being leveraged against them.

The user is directed to the adversary's website, which appears as if it is the legitimate bankofamerica.com login page.

The user thinks they are logging into their account, but have actually just given their bankofamerica.com credentials to the adversary. The adversary can now use the user's legitimate bankofamerica.com credentials to log into the user's account and steal any money which may be in the account.

Homograph vulnerability allows an adversary to impersonate a trusted domain by leveraging homoglyphs and tricking a user into visiting the malicious website to steal user credentials.

Related Vulnerabilities

+ Attacker Skills or Knowledge Required

Skill or Knowledge Level: Low

Adversaries must be able to register DNS hostnames/URL’s.

+ Solutions and Mitigations

Authenticate all servers and perform redundant checks when using DNS hostnames.

Utilize browsers that can warn users if URLs contain characters from different character sets.

+ Attack Motivation-Consequences
ScopeTechnical ImpactNote
Depending on the intention of the adversary, a successful Homograph attack can be leveraged to execute more complex attacks such as cross-site scripting or stealing account credentials.
+ Technical Context
Architectural Paradigms
+ Content History
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation2015-11-09Internal_CAPEC_Team

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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: August 04, 2017