ABC Radio PM Program
Subject: internet domain name changes
Domain names are the Internet's version of a home address, directing users to a website's front door. Now a change is underway in Australia, with sites getting access to new shortened domain names. Small businesses are being warned to secure theirs or risk losing access to customers and becoming vulnerable to cybercrime.
Matt Bamford has more.
What's in a name when it comes to Internet domain names, every keystroke counts. Anyone can register one for as little as $9 a year. They're vital for businesses who rely on their unique domain names to access customers.
Well, this is their digital identity. It's a digital asset. It's a key channel to customers, to the audience that people engage with. And it's also the way people search and locate for different types of services and goods.
That's Bruce Billson, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman. Australia is getting access to a new category of domain names. Bruce Billson explains.
People with domain names in Australia are probably familiar with names like ABC.com.au maybe radio.net.au, that kind of thing, where the business name or the entity is followed by .com.au or .net.au. What's happening now though is a new option is available where it would simply be .au.
So ABC.au, a shortened abridged domain name.
Australian businesses will have until September 20 to reserve their .au domain name. Then it becomes available to the public. Bruce Billson worries for those who miss out.
We already see through the work the agency does in helping to resolve commercial disputes. Occasions where people try and ambush market another business by trying to emulate them, maybe depicting themselves as another business by a very similar or like domain name, trying to attract customer traffic and attention through taking them off or masquerading as someone else.
There's also a risk of cybercrime.
In some areas of cyber security this has been a tactic used to cut off payment information.
Buying up popular domain names is called cybersquatting. Celebrities like US comedian Jay Leno have been victims. In 2009, a Texas man used the domain name, thejaylenoshow.com to direct Internet users to a real estate website.
David Gandolfo, who runs a finance broker business in Melbourne, says it's a serious threat.
Now if somebody else was to provide a fake website that looked like ours with just the .au. if we hadn't registered our own, then they would be inputting very private information, financial information into that site. And you know, who knows where that ends up or who actually owns that site or that information. So, it's potentially very, very dangerous.
He says many businesses are unaware of the impending changes.
Of itself, it's not an extraordinary change. But the timing of it and the lack of information around it is the actual issue and the potential for others to seize your domain name and use it and misuse it is, I think, a far bigger issue than the change itself.
Alistair Roe owns a Brisbane engineering firm. He secured his new domain name, early.
Domains aren’t expensive. It's a very small cost to make sure that you're ahead of the game. For now, it's the sort of thing where you keep it in your back pocket until you sort of wanted to switch everything to be that way. If the future goes that way.
He says it's a small investment in the future of his business.
I think it's the sort of change where you don't want to be the odd one out. I think it is a fairly small change. But if that's the way that people start to move and it makes sense to sort of to do that as well, to make sure that you look like you're sort of on the, you know, the more of the leading edge of technology and you're not being left behind. Then it's an easy decision to make. It is just a few letters less. And I think it's something just to make sure that you stay ahead of.
Brisbane business owner Alistair Roe ending Matt Bamford's report.