Building a Sketchy Website 101

Back in April, I won a free “.club” domain through’s anniversary prize giveaway. I really didn’t need a “.club” domain in particular, so I thought it would be pretty fun to register a stereotypical “sketchy” domain and set it up as a drive-by download site or something, because while I’ve heard of doing this kind of thing, I’ve never actually done it before. Here’s a blog post walking through what I did. The usual disclaimer applies here: I did this purely for my own education and learning experience and am not responsible for anything you do with it.

Step 1: Register your sketchy domain

I chose

Step 2: Set up drive-by downloads

This involves configuring your web server to automatically set the Content-Type header of the resource you want to force download to application/octet-stream. That should make most web browsers trigger a download file prompt to actually download the file. Safari curiously doesn’t support prompts for downloaded file location like Chrome and Firefox, so in that case, it will immediately download the file to ~/Downloads.

I’m going to try to force a drive-by download of a jpg file, so I added the below config to my .htaccess file in Apache’s DocumentRoot.

<Files *.jpg>
        ForceType application/octet-stream

That will force browers to download the image, rather than rendering it when a browser tries to access, for example.

At this point, we’re technically done. We can send someone a link to a file and, assuming they say yes to the prompt (or use Safari), download it to their computer. But for some extra polish, I want to have an actual website with content and have the download come from that page.

Step 3: Redirect

We can accomplish this with a trivial Javascript redirect that executes after the page has loaded. We can even add a delay before the download happens to give them time to read the website or whatever. The redirect will need to be to the path configured in step 2, but this will give the illusion that the download is coming from the index.html page.

you have arrived at the official free movie download club! enjoy your download
<script type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8">
    function f() { document.location = 'dickbutt.jpg' }
    setTimeout(f, 2000);

That’s it! Anyone that browses to the website will automatically get a nice “dickbutt.jpg” image downloaded to their machine. Again, particularly effective against Safari and Chrome for Android, in my testing.

Any thoughts?