Denison plans to change the .gov website address

What’s in a name? For the town of Denison, a name change could mean increased online security and protections, in fact.

The Town of Denison is exploring its options for transitioning its website and other online resources to a new, more secure .gov address. The opportunity arises with the focus on online security and cyber threat protections by cities, states, and other government organizations.

“It’s just something in the 21st century that has become an everyday thing for government entities and businesses,” Denison’s director of communications and engagement Aaron Werner said of potential cyber threats.

Traditionally, .gov website addresses have been among the most secure and protected and reserved almost exclusively for high-level government organizations, including states. Examples of government websites include irs.gov, Texas.gov, and whitehouse.gov.

To receive a .gov address, an organization must meet certain requirements that often come at a high cost. While Denison officials considered moving to a .gov address, the price turned out to be too high and he kept his cityofdenison.com domain instead.

This recently changed as the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency opened free requests for .gov addresses to state, local, territorial and tribal groups.

“They would rather use it for state and local governments for the security benefits rather than having to deal with cybersecurity threats,” Werner said.

Part of the advantage of the address is the oversight and restrictiveness of CISA and the difficulty in obtaining any of these addresses. One trick commonly used online to obtain information is to impersonate a legitimate website, often with a similar name or address. However, since .gov addresses are more difficult to obtain than a .com address, there is less chance for someone to create a bogus or deceptive website.

“You know if it’s .gov, it’s from this source,” Werner said. “It gives us a bit more security knowing that people can’t take advantage of us in this way.”

While Werner said the city was optimistic about the efforts, he said it could be two or more years before a full deployment is achieved. This will include not only the city’s website transition to the new location, but also new branding and communication efforts.

Meanwhile, Sherman recently completed his own transition to his cityofSherman.com address. Prior to that, the city had a .gov address, albeit under the state of Texas and its .gov domain.

Given the recent transition, the town of Sherman is unlikely to undergo another transition, said Nate Strauch, responsible for community and support services.


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