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One of the things that is constant about the internet is that it is never constant; it’s always in a state of change as the newest innovation is headed our way. One of the latest innovations is the addition of the new .au domain. If you haven’t heard, businesses that own existing .com.au domains have until September 20, 2022 to register for their matching .au domain. This can bring opportunities for your company’s branding. Many, unfortunately, haven’t heard of the new domain and aren’t aware of the benefits and security concerns they should know more about. While many people may think this is just a minor tweak to websites, this is a big deal, if for no other reason than it lets businesses stay current with international companies that are already using these shorter domains in Germany (.de), New Zealand (.nz), United Kingdom (.uk). Let’s take a look at the implications for your business: not only for branding, but for cybersecurity concerns.

What does the release of a .au top-level domain (TLD) mean?

If you are a business or association trying to create a brand with name recognition online, you know how important your web address can be. If it’s too long or cumbersome, it can be easily forgotten. The most common address endings, such as .com or .net, are TLDs (Top-Level Domains). In the past, website owners in Australia could register their domain with TLDs such as .com.au, .edu.au, .gov.au, .net.au, and .org.au. But now, these same domains can register with the simpler and shorter .au which will now be available as a TLD. The .au TLD release gives Australians a narrow window to reserve your existing domain name. After September 20, 2022, that window closes, and the domain names will be open to the general public to register. Unfortunately, that also means that cybercriminals hoping to pull visitors to their site instead of yours can register your domain name with this new TLD (https://www.cyber.gov.au/acsc/view-all-content/news/be-ready-auda-domain-name-changes). And more important than branding, that’s why it is so important to register your domain name now before someone else has the chance to grab it from you (https://www.cyber.gov.au/acsc/view-all-content/publications/protecting-against-business-email-compromise).

Why drop the .com for just .au?

While it may seem like a minor change, there are actually some significant benefits to dropping the “.com” suffix and switching it out for the simpler “.au.” These include:

  • The obvious advantage is that your domain name will be shorter. It’s easier for your customers to remember a shorter website name and unfortunately the .com can sometimes sound too cumbersome when you want your web name to just flow easily.
  • Replacing “.com.au” with “.au” can give your email address a simpler (and more professional) sound and look to them.
  • It gives you “hometown credibility.” There are millions of consumers out there who will only do business with companies that are local. The “.au” TLD will give you that local advantage and let everyone know that you are true Australian business.
  • Excitement – capitalise on the newest TLD, and use it as an opportunity to reach out to your client and prospect base and show them your shiny new “.au” domain.
  • The changeover will also help you establish your brand more easily and differentiate it from other companies. Unfortunately, once the deadline passes, then it’s wide open on who can register a domain name. You could have a hard time differentiating yourself from your competitors or (even worse) a cybercriminal or spammer.
Focus on security to ensure the move to .au is truly successful

The government has been stepping up the encouragement for businesses and organizations to strengthen their security with programs such as the Essential Eight Maturity Model (https://www.cyber.gov.au/acsc/view-all-content/publications/essential-eight-maturity-model).

Claim your domain before a competitor or impersonator does

The first security concern is that your visitors to “your” website could potentially become the victims of cybercrime, including ransomware attacks.

It works like this. Let’s say that your current domain is superwidgets.com.au. If you do not claim the corresponding domain superwidgets.au by September 20, 2022, then on the 21st a cybercriminal could claim it. Your customers, not realizing that there is a difference between the two, could type in superwidgets.au and be directed to the criminals’ fake website. They can then infect your customers’ computers with their spyware and viruses. This may not be directly a problem for your website, but it will link you (at least in the public’s minds) with the impersonators and cybercriminals.

Your email could be a target for cybercrime

If you use your domain name to send out professional business emails, then you could also be a target if you fail to register your domain name.

A cybercriminal can register your domain name and use it to send out phishing emails. This is the fraudulent practice of sending someone an email that would appear to be from your company – we have all received those in our inboxes from ebayy.com and australliapost.com.au. However, it will include a link to “Update Customer Information” which will then take them to a fake version of your website so they can steal their personal information including passwords and credit card numbers. They could also impersonate your email to send out fake invoices to customers. If the client is used to getting an invoice from you, then they might just click without realizing that the email is from “.au” and not “.com.au.” That’s why it is imperative that you go ahead and register your domain name before someone steals it away from you.

Nexon Can Help Your Business Securely Make the Move to .au. Contact us today.