One week left to secure your digital identity – don’t get caught short

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Bruce Billson, has warned small businesses there’s only one week left to take action to avoid their internet identity being sold to someone else.

“It is critical to act now to make sure you are not caught short by the introduction of the shortened .au domain name,” Mr Billson said.

“Unfortunately, hardly any small businesses I’ve met are aware this big change is taking place. But the consequences for a small or family business could be massive if impersonators, web-name ‘squatters’ or cyber criminals take up domain names just like theirs.”

A new system is being introduced by the non-government regulator, au Domain Administration (auDA), that will allow anyone with a connection to Australia to register the .au category of domain name.

Instead of ending with .com.au, .net.au, .asn.au, etc, people can have a shorter name. For example, shoes.com.au could be shoes.au

But auDA has decided that businesses with an existing domain name, such as .com.au etc, will only have until next Tuesday – 20 September – to register their equivalent .au name before it becomes available to the general public to purchase.

“The awareness campaign by the non-government regulator has been underwhelming,” Mr Billson said. “They have rejected calls to extend this artificial deadline so I am doing all I can to alert small businesses about this change so they can secure their shortened domain name before it’s open slather and anyone can buy it.

“Ask yourself, would I be upset if someone else had the .au version of my existing domain name? Would I feel the digital engagement I’ve developed with my customers would be compromised if I didn’t have that abridged version?

“It’s worth spending a few minutes and a few dollars to protect your digital assets. Do it before it is too late. The clock is ticking.

“If you don’t get control of the .au version of your domain name, a cybercriminal masquerading as you could try to reach your customers to harvest personal information, even intercept invoices so that they can substitute different bank account details.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre has issued an alert that “opportunistic cybercriminals could register your .au domain name in an attempt to impersonate your business”.

Mr Billson said: “With all the challenges small business owners and leaders are facing now, the last thing anyone needs is someone ripping off their domain name.”

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