How to secure your .au direct domain name
Why now may be the time to invest in .au direct domains
In 2022, auDA, the administrator of Australia’s .au top level domain, announced that Australian internet users could register for .au direct domain names. This new reality presents an opportunity for small businesses to own the exact .au direct match of their existing domain.
Even so, there are some risks to manage if you’d like to make this change for your business website. So, we’re here to outline what the .au direct domain opportunity could offer, and what you can do to register and help protect your business online.
How securing your .au direct domain name may help protect you against cyber crime
There are more than 3.3 million active domain names ending in .au in Australia, commonly in namespaces such as com.au and .net.au. The addition of .au direct domain names – such as hello.au – is an exciting update to the Australian digital landscape.
Not only are .au direct domain names shorter and simpler, but they also help you communicate that you’re an on-shore business, an appeal to customers who like to buy local. To be eligible for a .au direct name, according to auDA, all registrants must have an Australian presence and be a commercial entity.
Following auDA’s 2022 announcement that .au direct domain names were to become available, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) issued an alert advising businesses to secure the .au direct domain name connected to their business name. Why? Because a failure to do so may leave small businesses vulnerable to opportunistic cybercrime.
What does this .au direct domain opportunity mean for small businesses?
Registering a .au direct domain helps you maintain ownership and control of your business online, and your brand’s reputation. It also complements any existing domain you may already have, for example .com.au
The ACSC has also advised that businesses who fail to register a .au direct domain could be vulnerable to phishing, business email compromise*, and other forms of cybercrime. It may also leave you open to what’s called ‘domain flipping’, a perfectly legal money-making practice involving individuals buying domains and reselling them at higher prices.
Why is your domain name so important?
Paul Mather, Product Lead, Telstra Business Website Services, highlights the importance of owning your brand – including all relevant domain names. “It’s essential to invest in your brand online – don’t let others take advantage of all the marketing efforts you have invested over the years,” he says.
Benefits of registering your .au direct domain name
Registering your matching .au direct domain name is quick and low-cost. Here’s why it may worth your while.
- It prevents anyone else from buying it, whether they’re cyber criminals or others looking to flip domains.
- It’s inexpensive. Prices will vary depending on your registrar (the accredited agency you choose to provide domain services to you). auDA recommends reading the fine print.
- You don’t have to use it or create a new website. You can keep using your main website address and redirect the new .au direct domain to that existing address.
As well as being a great way to ensure you are in control of your brand on the internet, registering for a .au direct domain can help you when the time comes to launch new projects or events: you will already own a place online that can house a microsite for a new product, for example. It can also offer you a short, memorable name for a new business idea.
Why should you secure your .au direct domain name?
The business risks of not registering your .au direct domain may range from inconvenient to expensive, and even damaging to your business’s reputation. Here’s how.
- Someone could buy the domain and impersonate your business online, trading off your business’s reputation to make sales for themselves.
- A cybercriminal could buy the domain and create email addresses that look like yours to launch phishing attacks on your customers, staff or suppliers.
- More people are eligible, which means there is more demand. Registration for .au direct domain names is open to everyone with an Australian presence, unlike the .com.au namespace, which is only available to people with an Australian ABN or ACN.
Paul Mather says disruptive incidents in which third parties acquire other people’s domain names are more common than you might think.
“We often hear stories like these. More recently, a client was forced to pay in excess of $2000 to get their domain back after it was accidentally cancelled and bought by someone else. Make sure you put checks in place to protect your brand to ensure no one else can claim it.”
The more serious events may feel unlikely to happen to your business, but just as you’d purchase an insurance policy to protect your premises from storms or fire, it’s worth playing it safe to avoid the risks.
Originally published June 2022. Updated March 2023.
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