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The new .au direct domain is here: Why you need to register yours now

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

auDA, the administrator of Australia’s .au top level domain, recently announced that Australian internet users can now register for .au direct domain names. This presents an opportunity for small businesses to own the exact .au direct match of their existing domain, but there are some risks to manage. Here, we outline what the .au launch means for you and what you can do next to register and protect your business online.

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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. They’re shorter and simpler, and as of 24 March 2022, eligible Australians are now able to register for them.

Following auDA’s announcement, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) issued an alert advising businesses to secure the .au direct domain name connected to their business name – or they could leave themselves open to opportunistic cyber crime.

If your business already owns the exact match domain name in another .au namespace (like .com.au or .net.au), you are encouraged to register for your .au direct domain name before 20 September 2022, when registration opens to the general public. The ACSC warns that after this date, businesses could be vulnerable to phishing, ‘business email compromise’ and other forms of cyber crime. It could also leave you open to ‘domain flipping’, a perfectly legal money-making practice in which someone buys a domain and resells it for a higher price.

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 before 20 September is quick and low-cost. Here is why it’s 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.

Worried about potential online attacks?

Telstra Business Cyber Security Services can help to protect your business.

Find out moreWorried about potential online attacks?

Why you should secure your .au direct domain name before 20 September

The business risks of not registering for your .au direct domain exact match before 20 September may range from inconvenient to expensive, and even damaging to your business’s reputation. Here’s how.

  • You and another business could both be legitimately eligible for the new domain name. If you don’t register before 20 September and the other business does, they will be allocated the .au direct domain.
  • Someone could buy the domain and try to resell it to you for a higher price.
  • Someone could buy the domain and impersonate your business online, trading off your business’s reputation to make sales for themselves.
  • A cyber criminal 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 $2,750 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.

How to secure your .au direct domain name

Do it yourself

  1. Use the auDA’s priority status tool to check if you’re able to register and if anyone else is trying to claim this domain. In a small percentage of cases there will be more than one applicant for the same domain name, in which case priority categories will apply based on when your domain was created.
  2. If the domain is available to you now, choose your preferred registrar and follow their application process.

Get help from an expert

  1. Speak to an expert from Telstra Business Website Services.
  2. If you already have a Telstra Business Website Services subscription, Telstra’s digital experts will secure your .au direct domain and do the following for you:
  • Set up your new domain.
  • Redirect your new domain to your existing website.
  • Set up new email addresses and redirect them to your existing mail accounts.

Whether you apply to register your matching .au direct domain name is ultimately up to you. auDA advises that it’s optional and has no effect on your existing .au domain names. To find out more about .au direct domains, go to getyour.au or visit the auDA website.

For more information on protecting your business from cyber threats, take our cyber security quiz to see how your business measures up online, and download the Telstra Business Intelligence report on Managing Risks Online. And to make sure you’re protecting your brand online, read our article about avoiding common domain mistakes.

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