Australian businesses and residents can now purchase a ‘.au’ domain for their website address. While this has its benefits, it can create serious risks for those businesses that do not purchase theirs in time. Here we detail those risks, one of which includes cyber fraud, and explain how to protect your business and its customers.
On 24 March 2022, auDA, the organisation responsible for managing Australian website domains, essentially created the .au domain and enabled existing Australian businesses and Australian residents to purchase this as part of a web address.
Benefits of a .au domain
Currently, Australian businesses commonly use a ‘.com.au’ or ‘net.au’ domain name as part of their email address. The creation of a new ‘.au’ domain name however brings with it many opportunities:
- The domain is shorter and arguably more memorable
- It boosts the search engine ranking of your website address when someone nearby searches
- It highlights your Australia presence
- Unlike when registering a ‘.com.au’ domain, you don’t need an ABN or ACN to apply
Why does this concern my business and what risks does it create?
If a business or a scammer creates a website address with your sub-domain name (that is the William Buck in www.williambuck.com for example) and the new .au domain before you do, they could trick your customers into believing they’re interacting with your business’s website. This could scam your customers and prospects out of their money and make them apprehensive to use your website or services after the event.
In another potential scenario, an opportunistic domain squatter could purchase the web address and a charge a premium to sell it to you.
Finally, where an individual or business that has purchased a .au domain with the same sub-domain as your business with innocent intentions – say they want to set up a business that operates in a different market but with the same name for example – the content on and very existence of their website could sacrifice the efforts you’ve undertaken to grow your search engine optimisation (SEO) rankings on google.
How can I protect my business, customers and my website address?
When auDA announced the new domain name and made it available on 24 March 2022, it also implemented a ‘Priority Holding Period’ to ensure that any business with a ‘.com.au’ or ‘.net.au’ registered domain would have until 20 September 2022 to register their business name with a .au domain.
After this, if you’ve not registered your current business name with the .au domain, it becomes publicly available.
This is why it’s critical you act now and register you’re the .au domain of your current business if it’s already registered with a ‘.com.au’ or ‘.net.au’ domain. Note, once you register your .au domain, you will not lose your current domain. All current domains will continue to act as normal.
If you did not own a website address with the business name you’re wanting to register a .au domain with, you will need to wait until 21 September 2022 to apply.