May 24, 2019
A company is reportedly contacting Victorian government authorities offering them registration of a subdomain similar to the authority's own official .au domain.
A subdomain is part of a higher ranked domain name in DNS hierarchy - e.g. subdomain.example.com*. If you have registered your own domain name, you can create a subdomain to create a different section, or an entirely different site. There are also services that offer subdomain registration for names under the service's control.
The alert about Victorian government authorities being approached by such a service comes from au Domain Administration Ltd (auDA), which is the administrator and self-regulatory policy body for the .au ccTLD.
Why is this causing concern for auDA?
"The emails claim the company in question is fulfilling its ‘statutory obligation’ by offering the government department first right of refusal, and hints at ‘far-reaching consequences’ if the offer is not accepted," says auDA.
Perhaps the "far reaching consequences" bit may have been a necessary hook in the eyes of the company involved, as why on earth would a government authority want a subdomain associated with another name not under the control of the authority?
Targeting government departments is a bit of a new twist, but this latest scheme is sounding somewhat similar to other schemes we've reported on over the years. While they may vary in their approach, the aim is the same - getting registrants to register additional names they may not really want or need. In some incidents emails have looked quite official and led the registrant to think it's from their own registrar, or a party associated with it. In others, the emails have resembled invoices; catching out the unwary who believed it was a renewal for a name they had already registered.
auDA says registrants are not under any obligation to register whatever name is offered to them should be wary of such offers.
"Double check with your registrar if you’re unsure if the offer is legitimate or related to your existing domain name licences," auDA states.
*If you're confused about the differences between subdomain, TLDs, ccTLDs, 2LDs etc, check out our guide to domain types.
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