In June we launched .auLOCKDOWN, a new security measure that allows .au domain name owners to lock their domain’s nameserver delegations and prevent unauthorised changes.
In support of the new security service both AusRegistry and .au Domain Administration (auDA) have officially added .auLOCKDOWN to each organisation’s respective domain names.
As one of the first domains to be locked, ausregistry.com.au now sports the official .auLOCKDOWN tick of approval. Search our domain name here and you will be able to see an example of how the .auLOCKDOWN status appears in WHOIS.
auDA CTO Adam King had the following comments about .auLOCKDOWN:
“AusRegistry’s .auLOCKDOWN is a great initiative and a step in the right direction to protecting .au domain names, in particular high profile and critical infrastructure domain names,” Mr King said.
“It introduces a human factor and removes exploits that take advantage of automation for services like delegation changes. Delegation changes can propagate quickly and if these changes are malicious or even unintentional they can have a detrimental impact on unsuspecting end users. Stricter verification of such changes is an area of domain security that can be improved and AusRegistry is doing just that with the .auLOCKDOWN service. This is a service move toward protecting both the Registrant and the end user.”
Mr King raises an interesting point that addresses a company’s Internet customers.
In the event of a compromised domain name, many may be quickly exposed to the nefarious activities of those engaged in phishing activities. Damages related to intercepted private and confidential data could cause irreparable damage to brands with high traffic websites.
Even if the domain hijacking is detected and rectified within minutes, many website visitors may have already had their usernames and passwords intercepted. Prevention, as with most things, remains the best defense, and .auLOCKDOWN was developed with this reality in mind.
Please contact your .au domain name Registrar for more information about .auLOCKDOWN. A list of all .au accredited Registrars can be found here.
The .au WHOIS will display the following statuses for domain names with the .auLOCKDOWN service active:
- Status serverDeleteProhibited (Protected by .auLOCKDOWN)
- Status serverUpdateProhibited (Protected by .auLOCKDOWN
In the two months since launching the product to the .au Registry, we have witnessed two stark reminders from around the world of why an added level of security for domain names is warranted.
On 2 July, reports emerged out of Malaysia that several high-profile .my domain names were hijacked and maliciously redirected to a third party website. This incident impacted the domain names of Google, YouTube, Microsoft, Bing, MSN, Skype, Dell, Kaspersky and many other major brands.
Then only a week later reports surfaced that both the Netherland’s .nl Registry and Belgium’s .be Registry also suffered attacks which impacted domain names in their regions.
Given these recent incidents, the justification for locking .au domain names for high profile brands could not be clearer.
While it has been pleasing to receive positive feedback from the .au Registrar community about the introduction of .auLOCKDOWN, we recognise the need to raise greater awareness about the product – especially amongst the high profile brands that are typically the target of these attacks.
.auLOCKDOWN combats the type of incidents seen in recent months by adding an additional layer of authorisation at the registry level that protects domain names in the unlikely event of a security incident that leads to unauthorised access.
Importantly, it also stops mistakes from occurring within an organisation, where domain names are accidentally updated by employees.
For instance, we saw the significant impact self-inflicted DNS errors can cause in June when access to LinkedIn was unavailable for half a day due to a mistake made by the company’s DNS provider. Rather than being a malicious hacking event, the LinkedIn incident involved human error where an employee accidentally pointed the domain name to the wrong nameserver.
The .auLOCKDOWN service not only protects against unauthorised access to domain names, it may also mitigate against such mistakes.
We’ll be reaching out to our major stakeholders over the coming months in an effort to raise awareness about .auLOCKDOWN and engage the community about this important issue.
Online security resources
I can’t overstate the importance of domain name and online security. Your domain name is the digital asset that underpins your organisation’s entire online identity.
Below are some helpful resources on online security from trusted authorities:
- Infoxchange Australia (not-for-profit ICT organisation)
- Stay Smart Online (Australian federal government initiative)
- iTaNGO (Infoxchange Australia initiative funded by the Victorian government)
- SCAMwatch (Operated by the federal government’s Australian Competition and Consumer Commission)
- auDA Consumer Alerts (.au domain name consumer alerts from the regulatory body for the .au domain space)