What’s in a name? Lots…..please read on about important changes that may impact you

The way we register domain names in Australia is changing. New rules were introduced in March this year to allow anyone with a connection to Australia to register the shorter .au domain for their website, rather than the existing .com.au or .net.au. For example, Rose Partners which is rosepartners.com.au will also have access to rosepartners.au. Those with existing Australian domains have until 20 September to reserve their equivalent website with the shorter domain, before it would become available to the general public.

This is highly recommended for all businesses, especially due to an increased risk to your business through potential cyber crime that may arise with these changes. It is possible for an unrelated party to register a URL using a business’ name and the .au tag without having any ties to your business, if the exclusive option is not taken up by 20 September.

Alexi Boyd, CEO of the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA), said last week that bad actors could imitate small business online by sniping their .au domain names.

“We are concerned that if priority registration isn’t extended, cyber criminals could purchase .au domain names and create ‘shell sites’ or ‘ghost sites’ impersonating legitimate businesses, potentially using online booking forms to gather information and/or money from the business’ clients,” she said.

For example, your clients might not spot that the invoice they’ve just received from “accounts@yourbusiness.au” and not your actual email address “accounts@yourbusiness.com.au”.

Activity such as this can result in you and your clients losing money and it can also be a hit to your reputation and the level of trust your clients have with you.

Tracing cybercriminals can be difficult, and it can also be complicated to regain a domain name once it is registered to someone else, so prevention is first line of defence.

COSBOA also fears members of the public could soon acquire .au URLs and effectively hold them for ransom, forcing business to pay compensation for .au URLs matching their names.

It’s generally a good idea to register the different endings of domain names, such as the .com and the .com.au versions. The same thinking applies to new .au domains.

auDA, the administrator of Australia’s .au top level domain, lists the wholesale price of a .au domain at $8.67 per year including GST. Registrars set the retail price so it may be worth shopping around to find a registrar with a competitive price and whose services meet your needs.

You should also be aware that the initial registration price may change or increase when it comes time to renew.

Generally, you can register a domain name for between one and 5 years, with extensions available if you continue to meet the eligibility requirements for the domain.

Businesses looking to register for .au priority status can do so here.

As usual, should you have any questions or need any help, please reach out to our team and we will endeavour to do our best to assist.

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