A website presence is an important e-commerce and marketing tool for many Australian businesses, even more so today following a surge in online spending after the COVID-19 pandemic.
As highlighted in Australia Post’s 2022 eCommerce Industry report, Australians spent a record $62.3 billion online in 2021, up 23.4 per cent on a year earlier and accounting for 19.3 per cent of total retail spend. That’s almost double the pre-pandemic baseline.
One of my colleagues recently shared a story of buying a light fitting for a bathroom renovation. Purchased at midday on a Wednesday, it arrived the following morning at her front door in regional Victoria. What would have typically taken at least a two-hour round trip to buy the item from a bricks-and mortar store instead took her five minutes online.
As more consumers familiarise themselves with the convenience of online shopping, this trend is expected to become a permanent shift.
This presents endless opportunities for business owners – but it can also create some serious risks.
In the last 12 months ANZ recovered or prevented an estimated $80 million in scams targeted at customers and took down hundreds of phishing websites each month.
This is why ANZ is urging business owners to learn about .au direct, a new Australian domain namespace launched in March, which enables individual Australians (including non-business owners) to register domain names directly before the .au for the first time (e.g. anz.au rather than anz.com).
However, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) believes the new domain provides another opportunity for cybercriminals to facilitate fraudulent activity like business email compromise. That’s why the ACSC recommends all Australian businesses, organisations and individuals consider taking advantage of a priority allocation process to register the .au direct equivalents of their existing domain names – to avoid the danger of accidental or intentional diversion to the wrong website.
In July Australians lost almost $600,000 to online shopping scams with over 1,300 incidences reported, according to The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scam Watch. These types of scams see fraudsters use the latest technology to set up fake retailer websites that look like genuine online retail stores.
They may use sophisticated designs and layouts, possibly stolen logos and even a ‘.com.au’ domain name and stolen Australian Business Numbers (ABN). While the downside for the consumer is obvious, it can also mean a legitimate business may be robbed of a sale opportunity. Or it can lead to serious reputational issues for legitimate businesses which can cause long-term damage to their operations.
Given these potential risks regarding the new .au namespace, businesses are being urged to consider applying for their matching .com.au/.au name by 20 September. Priority allocation has been given to Australian business owners but domains will become available for registration by the public on 3 October. Business owners can find more about Priority Allocation here.
For more information about ways businesses can mitigate the risks of cyber threats, we encourage everyone to refer to ANZ’s cyber security guide. This is part of ANZ’s ongoing efforts to inform and educate customers about how they can protect their businesses in an increasingly digital environment.
Business owners must remain vigilant about their online presence and ensure it helps their operations reach their full potential – and not fall victim to fraudsters.