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Deadline for SMBs to claim their .au domain is tomorrow, Sept 20

The deadline for Australian businesses to apply for a domain name ending in.au is tomorrow; failing to register will result in a costly error.

Many website owners will also tell you that squabbling over domain names is not pleasant. It takes a lot of time and might be expensive. After tomorrow, October 4, names will be removed from priority hold and made available for registration by anyone.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) recently recommended all Australian businesses consider claiming their.au extension now, before the priority access period expires on September 20, 2022, preventing someone from purchasing the domain and then impersonating your firm.

Thanks to a new system, anyone with a connection to Australia can now register domain names in the.au category. People can have a shorter name that doesn’t end in.com.au,.net.au,.asn.au, etc. Shoes.com.au, for instance, may also be shoes.au.

Small businesses can still obtain their.au beyond this deadline. Although missing the deadline can simply make the domain available for purchase or claim to anyone who qualifies. This can bring the threat of eCommerce and online scams, which can adversely harm sales, revenue and reputation of small enterprises in particular. 

.au web domains

After September 20th, everyone will be able to register domain names on a first-come, first-served basis. Since the .au domain name became available for registration for the first time in March of this year, more than 170,000 registrations have been made, according to auDA, which oversees this naming system. 

The Priority Allocation period covers the situation when there are numerous registrants for the same domain name and guarantees that businesses can request a straight match from their prior namespace (ex: if a registrant of domain.com.au and a registrant of domain.net.au are both applying for domain.au).

Anyone with a confirmed connection to Australia, such as organisations registered in the nation, citizens, and permanent residents, as well as organisations with a registered Australian trademark, is eligible to use the.au web domain.

Since March, small companies and individuals have been permitted to register domain names with a direct.au ending. Instead of www.smallbusinessxyz.com.au, a website URL would now read www.smallbusinessxyz.au.

Sarah Russo, Head of Content Marketing and social media expert at Localsearch urges businesses to register for the .au domain namespace before the deadline. 

“There are countless benefits to securing digital ownership of domain names. However, the main issue is that small business do not understand the potential harm this can cause if your domain is left unclaimed before this deadline. 

“Websites previously identified as .com.au or .net.au etc. can now be simplified to omit the “.com” or “.net” part of the address. This will allow cybercriminals to “capture” websites, mimicking their design and branding – then either ransom the site back to the business owner or even steal potential business if the current owners do not register the shorter domain names by the September deadline, as the unclaimed URL becomes available for purchase to the public.

“Only one person can hold a specific domain namespace at any one time, so there is a chance someone could claim your business name before you. Getting the security of your .au domain can ensure your online presence is more protected, saving you from potential scams being registered under a URL containing your business name.

“Given the eligibility for a .au and similar domains requires you to have an Australian presence, consumers who see this in your website URL will feel confident they are buying from an Australian business or someone registered to sell in Australia. It adds that extra layer of credibility to your name.

Indigenous SMEs at risk

Indigenous small businesses have been urged by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman to act immediately to protect their brand and identity online or risk having impersonators or cybercriminals register domain names that are identical to theirs. 

Suppose Indigenous businesses do not proactively sign up for the new system. In that case, the change being imposed by the non-government regulator.au Domain Administration (auDA) could have potentially momentous consequences that could see them lose their customer base or be at the mercy of cybercriminals posing as them.

Australia’s Cyber Security Centre issues alert

The Australian Cyber Security Centre has issued an alert and warns on its website that ‘opportunistic cybercriminals could register your .au domain name in an attempt to impersonate your business.

Mr Billson wrote to auDA expressing concern about the rollout and the lack of awareness about the change and urged it to extend the 20 September deadline for 12 months. Other organisations representing small businesses have echoed the concerns. AuDA rejected the request.

“Now my mission is to raise awareness of this change to try and make sure small, and family businesses across the country are not caught short when it comes to the shortened .au domain name,” 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.”

.au direct has launched. If you have priority, apply for your matching name by 20 September. Learn more.

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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