April 23, 2020
Given these troubled times, the reputation of the .au domain space should mean more than ever - and it's one worth special protection.
Back in early March we mentioned coronavirus domain names were on the rise - and it appears that trend hasn't stopped. Unfortunately, not all these names are being registered for benign or informational purposes - well, correct information anyway. There's also a darker aspect.
Earlier this month, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) warned the COVID-19 situation was not disrupting lives but:
"It is also capturing the attention of cybercriminals who are intent on using domain names as part of their efforts to victimize a desperate and worried public," said ICANN.
While under its bylaws the organisation can't get involved with issues related to website content, it is developing a system that will help identify domain names used for this particular kind of threat and will share data about those domain names with the appropriate parties.
So, that's the international situation. But the body that oversees the .AU domain space, auDA, is also keeping an eye on what's happening with Australian domain names specifically. Thanks to more stringent registration eligibility requirements, Australia's namespace probably isn't experiencing the same level of mischief as on extensions such as .com, .net. and .org.
Australians have a high degree of trust in .au names. The statistics are rather dated now, but way back in 2015 we mentioned a survey that found two-thirds of survey respondents are more likely to trust a .au website compared with only one-third for a .com. It would be nice to see a similar survey run again to get some fresh figures, but there's been nothing to suggest that things have changed.
This is in part due to the efforts of organisations such as auDA, the registry operator Afilias and the accredited registrars across the nation remaining vigilant. But it's no real surprise there's a special focus in Australia on the integrity of .au - after all, there's a lot at stake. Many businesses, community organisations and associations across the country are depending on the namespace maintaining its comparatively squeaky-clean image - through good times and not-so-good.
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