auDA Implements All 29 Government Recommendations From 2018 Review

auDA is extremely pleased to announce it has satisfactorily implemented all 29 recommendations from the Federal Government’s 2018 Review of the au. Domain Administration.

In a letter to auDA Chair Alan Cameron AO, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher MP congratulated auDA on its work achieving the required reforms in the 24-month period outlined in the Review’s final report.

Read: Letter from Paul Fletcher MP: Completion of reforms arising from the Review of the .au Domain Administration

auDA would like to thank and recognise the staff, directors, members and other stakeholders – present and past - for their contributions in achieving these recommendations in such an ambitious time frame.

The Review’s final report, handed down in April 2018, contained 29 recommendations resulting in 43 action items, 38 of which were required to be completed by auDA. These action items included significant reform of auDA’s governance, membership and stakeholder engagement. 27 of these action items are considered completed, 11 of them are considered completed with ongoing reporting requirements.

Since April 2018 auDA has given quarterly updates to the department on its progress against the recommendations. At its final quarterly review of auDA’s progress on 1 May 2020, all actions were considered finalised.

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.au Registry Reports – April 2020 Now Available

auDA publishes monthly reports looking at registry performance and domain name registration trends in the .au namespace.

You can download them here: Registry Reports 

These registry reports provide a snapshot of activity in the domain name system and include measures of technical performance - for example, the average response time for a DNS query – and the numbers of domain names being registered overall, and in each namespace – com.au, asn.au etc.

As a broad average we expect around 40,000 new .au domain names to be created in a month, although this does vary seasonally.

April 2020 saw 48,754 names created - the biggest month for new domain name creations we’ve seen in a while, however the total number of .au domains actually fell slightly compared to where it was at the same time last year.

While growth in domain name registrations globally is slowing, the April decline in total number of .au names is largely due to a lower renewal rate for names that were registered in March/April last year during promotions from registrars.

How long people choose to register or renew their .au domain names for – the licence term - is also changing.

One-year licences are now the most popular licence term for names being created or renewed.

Since variable licence periods of between 1 and 5 years were introduced in 2018, we’ve seen a gradual shift away from the once standard 2-year licence term.

The popularity of 1-year licences has been steadily growing as more registrars have made the variable .au licence periods available to registrants. March 2020 was the first month the number of one-year licences exceeded the number of 2-year licences and April 2020 saw the trend continue.

Our Registry Reports with the previous calendar month’s data are generally published early in the month and the April 2020 report is available now.

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Quarterly Stakeholder Report Now Available

auDA’s first quarterly stakeholder report for 2020 is now available.

Download: auDA Quarterly Stakeholder Report - Q1 2020

This regular report provides an update on auDA’s work in the areas of policy, operations, international engagement, membership, compliance, and finance.

Q1 2020 was an extraordinary start to the year which began against a backdrop of the summer bushfires which led us to develop and implement our temporary Major Disaster Policy.

In February we hosted country code top level domain managers from all around the APAC region at a very successful APTLD77 summit.

Our new CEO Rosemary Sinclair AM officially commenced her role in March – and as we watch the impact of the COVID19 pandemic grow, it’s hard to think of a more extraordinary time to have done so.

auDA Associate Members receive updates on the .au domain and auDA first, so if you're not an Associate Member already, take a minute to join now.

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Update on auDA’s progress implementing the 2017 Government Review recommendations

At the end of January, auDA met with the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications as part of our regular progress reporting on the of implementation of the recommendations of the 2017 Government review. As a result of that meeting we recently received a letter from the Minister for Communications Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher MP, expressing his satisfaction in the progress made by auDA in achieving the recommendations. Letter from Paul Fletcher MP - 4 March 2020 auDA's next quarterly review meeting will be held in April.
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auDA website performance issues

Due to a fault in a telecommunication network operator’s network used at the data centre where the auDA web server is located, some users experienced performance issues with the auDA website for about 90 minutes yesterday afternoon (4 March). We therefore alerted stakeholders via social media how to get in touch with any urgent enquiries while the website was intermittently inaccessible, and we apologise for any inconvenience caused. There was no impact to DNS services. Prior to this incident, we had already initiated work to mitigate against similar issues affecting the website, which will be completed in the coming weeks.
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A response to the Australian bushfires: Major Disaster Policy

auDA is pleased to announce two initiatives in response to the catastrophic bushfires currently being experienced in Australia.

A temporary Major Disaster Policy comes into effect on 22 January 2020 and will give bushfire-affected .au registrants:

  • an extra two months to renew their eligible .au domain names,
  • two months to respond to .au domain complaints.

The policy aims to help businesses, associations and individuals to focus on dealing with the immediate impacts of the bushfire disaster without needing to worry about managing their .au domain names.

Due to the need for a quick implementation, auDA was not able to conduct the usual public consultation phase of the policy development process.  However, auDA has consulted with the Department of Communications and the Arts, the registry operator and auDA-accredited registrars to ensure the policy is both feasible and effective.

More information about the policy can be found here: Major Disaster Policy FAQ

Also, to assist with the bushfire recovery efforts, auDA will be donating $1 from every .au domain name created in February 2020 to the Foundation for Regional and Rural Renewal (FRRR).

The donation will be made to the FRRR’s Disaster and Resilience and Recovery Fund which helps communities around Australia recover from disasters like the bushfires and also helps rural communities better prepare for disaster events.

It is expected that around 40,000 .au domain names will be created in February 2020, and auDA will publicly report the volumes in its normal monthly registry reports. 

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Why letting your unused domain names expire can be risky

If you’re running a business, you might find that you hold domain names you no longer need -  perhaps due to a rebrand, restructure or changes to your product.

While it may be tempting to save a few dollars and just let the names expire, doing so can pose a risk to your business.

What’s the risk of letting your names expire?

Expired domain names can pose reputational and information security risks to your business – this goes for all domain names you’ve registered, not just your .au ones.

Once a domain name expires and is purged from the registry, it can be registered on a first-come, first served basis to any registrant who meets the relevant eligibility criteria.

A new registrant of your abandoned name could potentially use that domain name to pose as your company, aiming to defraud your customers and putting your reputation at serious risk.

However, the more complex risk is a new registrant using your abandoned domain name to access private information about you, your company or its customers.

Chances are if you’ve used a domain name for your business, you and your employees have used email addresses tied to that domain name to communicate with customers, banks, utilities, government agencies and set up accounts with the various online services you needed to operate your business.

The registrant of that domain name can intercept information sent to email accounts attached to that old domain name, potentially giving them access to extremely sensitive information.

(Read this blog post from Iron Bastion for more on the risks of abandoning your domains).

Once you lose control of a domain name, it can be difficult to get it back – especially if the new registrant is eligible to hold it.

What can you do to minimise the risk?

Renewing your domains, even if you’re not actively using them, is the best way to manage this risk. You’re probably thinking “Of course auDA would say that” but it’s the safest way to ensure that the registrant of a domain name you no longer use has your best interests at heart.

How long you maintain a domain name will depend on the circumstances of your business and your assessment of the risk - the ACSC recommends you renew your old domain names indefinitely.

While you don’t have to actively ‘use’ a .au domain you’ve registered (although you do need to remain eligible to hold it), we’d recommend you take the kind of active approach to managing your old names just as you would your current domain names.

Moving a business to a new phase can be exciting, don’t put your hard work at risk by letting an unused domain name fall into the wrong hands.

 

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Staying safe when making donations online

In times of crisis many of us want to do what we can to help. The bushfires throughout Australia are a recent example of a large event prompting the wider community to chip in to a relief effort.

Unfortunately, when events like these occur there’s often a spike in instances of people looking to take advantage of our generosity by posing as charities online and soliciting donations which never make it to the cause they’re claiming to support.

Giving online? Here’s how to avoid getting scammed

Check registrant details to ensure they match the charity’s details
If you’ve come across a website collecting donations that’s using a .au domain, you can perform a WHOIS search to see the publicly available registrant information. The information in the WHOIS output can be used to cross-reference the organisation against different databases.

Be wary of unusual payment methods
Scamwatch advises you to be wary of being asked to make payments via "money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency, like Bitcoin. Legitimate charities don’t solicit donations in this way.”

Approach organisations directly
If you’re unsure about the legitimacy of someone claiming to collect money on the behalf of a known charity or relief effort, donate directly to that charity.

What auDA is doing

auDA is currently monitoring registrations of new domains containing words related to the bushfires and the associated relief efforts.  If we find something that doesn’t stack up we’ll ask the registrar to validate the registrant’s eligibility to hold the domain name (known as a warranty check).

If you spot something that doesn’t look legitimate you can report it to Scamwatch.

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auDA 2018/19 Annual Report details ambitious transformation program

Australia’s domain name administrator today published its 2018/19 Annual Report. Download: auDA Annual Report 2018/2019 The report details an ambitious transformation program delivered by the Board and the organisation that included:
  • Introducing a new Constitution, governance model and reporting framework;
  • On a single day in July 2018, transitioning more than 3.1 million domain names to Afilias, a new registry operator that was selected following a tender process conducted in 2017;
  • Introducing one to five-year domain registrations;
  • Implementing a new IT platform that has begun reducing the time taken to resolve consumer complaints;
  • Overhauling IT and security systems, processes and policies to give effect to new, stricter ISO-based security standards;
  • Launching a new associate membership program, which attracted nearly 600 members in its first three months and a further 800 by October 2019; and
  • Enhancing transparency by implementing Tier 1 financial reporting and adopting more conservative standards that change when revenue can be recognised.
In addition auDA continued preparing for the launch of new, shorter domain names that will help boost the digital economy and drive social inclusion and progressed plans to introduce new licensing rules. These preparations took the form of extensive policy development and consultation, which continues into 2019/20. Reflecting on the year, Chair Suzanne Ewart said she and her fellow directors looked back with great satisfaction at what had been achieved. “As a united group, the auDA Board’s priority has been to deliver the reforms in a transparent and professional manner to best support the interests of our broad stakeholders,” she said. “Our determination to contemporise the organisation ensures that the Government, domain registrars and the public at large can now have full confidence that the necessary policies and processes are in place for an effectively administrated and governed .au domain space. “I am pleased we have strengthened the organisation’s capabilities and have embedded a framework that will better enable auDA to address future challenges and opportunities. “The Board would particularly like to recognise the efforts and support of all auDA staff for their tireless work in the implementation of the reforms.” The Annual Report is accompanied by a special companion document which transparently measures auDA’s performance against the Australian Government’s terms of endorsement and reports auDA’s successful implementation of recommendations made in April 2018 by the Department of Communications and the Arts.
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First ICANN Managed Root Server Instance Installed in Shanghai

SHANGHAI, China – 3 September 2019 – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) today announced the successful installation of an ICANN Managed Root Server (IMRS) instance in Shanghai, China.

A root server is a name server for the Domain Name System (DNS) root zone. Root servers respond to DNS lookup requests made by DNS resolvers generally operated by Internet service providers. When the request is a query about the root zone itself, the root server will respond authoritatively with the answer. For all other queries, the root server will respond with either a referral to the appropriate top-level domain (TLD) name server or an error response (e.g. to indicate a non-existent TLD). Each root server is made up of a number of machines at multiple locations. These machines are known as instances.

An instance makes use of an Internet traffic routing technique known as "anycast" that allows all the root server's instances to have the same two IP addresses (an IPv4 address and an IPv6 address) and to serve the same DNS content, including information about the name servers for TLDs. Increasing the number of instances improves the overall fault tolerance of the DNS, bolsters the resilience against certain types of cyber threats such as Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, and can reduce the response time that local Internet users experience during DNS queries.

The installation of the Shanghai instance is a joint activity between ICANN, China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), and the local community. Shanghai Telecom supplied the equipment necessary for the installation and the bandwidth needed to support the instance.

"We appreciate CNNIC's efforts to host this IMRS instance. This commitment improves root zone DNS service, and augments the technical stability and resiliency of the DNS in the region," said David Conrad, ICANN Chief Technology Officer.

Contrary to common misconception, root servers do not control the Internet. The operation of an instance also does not provide any mechanism to alter content of the DNS. Any modification of root zone content will be mitigated by a part of the DNS protocol known as the DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC) and if an instance fail to respond to a query, resolvers will ask the same question to another instance or root server.

Regardless of which root server the resolvers are sending queries to, spreading more instances geographically leads to a more resilient, dispersed system that reduces the risk of Internet users being taken offline by a problem or attack. The increased distribution of instances also ensures that the turnaround time of a DNS query and response is as fast as possible, resulting in better experiences for Internet users.

The root name server system is comprised of over 1,000 instances operated by 12 independent organizations, including ICANN. Currently, ICANN manages more than 165 IMRS instances located all over the world, where most of which are hosted by third parties.

This is the third IMRS instance installed in China, and the first one located in eastern China. The other two instances are located in Beijing.

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For more information about IMRS, please visit www.dns.icann.org/.

For more information about the global root server system, please visit www.root-servers.org.

Media Contacts

Liana Teo
Head of Communications, APAC
Tel: +65 6816 1259
Mobile: +65 9113 2001
Email: liana.teo@icann.org

About ICANN

ICANN's mission is to help ensure a stable, secure, and unified global Internet. To reach another person on the Internet, you have to type an address – a name or a number – into your computer or other device. That address must be unique, so computers know where to find each other. ICANN helps coordinate and support these unique identifiers across the world. ICANN was formed in 1998 as a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation and a community with participants from all over the world.

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