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City of Durango to adopt ‘.gov’ website domain for enhanced security

Change won’t affect residents’ access to site or staff contacts
As hackers abound, some companies are testing workers’ security savvy by sending spoof phishing emails to see who bites and then turning the experience into a teachable moment. (Courtesy)

Durangogov.org, the city of Durango’s website address, is easy to recall for anyone who frequents the site to pursue upcoming city meetings or read updates about city happenings.

But the “.org” domain is also easy for malicious actors to take advantage of.

That’s partially why the city is changing its web address in early 2024 to durangoco.gov.

Despite the name change, residents will still be able to access the city website at the old address.

City staff members’ and official’s current email addresses ending with the “.org” suffix will still be valid communication channels to reach them at.

The old domain name will eventually be phased out, though.

Durango Information Technology Director Justin Carlton said “.gov” domains are much harder to spoof than “.com,” “.org” or “.net” domains.

Only official United States government bodies can use the “.gov” domain, while anyone can register a “.org” or “.com” domain.

“You have to apply through the federal government, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (for a ‘.gov’ domain),” he said. “There’s a whole bunch of stuff you have to jump through. You have to get the mayor to sign off on it, and there’s some other procedures you have to go through in order to prove you are a legitimate United States government entity.”

Carlton said the city has had situations where bad actors tried to send phishing emails to city staff members using the durangogov.org email suffix.

The city implemented security issues to combat that, but there’s only so much it can do in the ever-evolving war between cybersecurity analysts and scammers.

Carlton said the only phishing scams using the durangogov.org email suffix are ones targeting city staff members, but it wouldn’t surprise him if the public were targeted by similar scams disguised behind an authentic-looking city email address.

He also said “.gov” domains are a better place for governments to do business, adding “it’s better for everyone from the government entity to the citizens that consume our services.”

According to the Colorado Statewide Internet Portal Authority, people trust “.gov” domains much more than “.org” domains.

“Moving all governments to a .gov web and email presence has been identified as a nationwide security objective,” a SIPA brief says. “Agencies are advised to consider that in the future grant funding, cyber insurance applications, and required security assessments may include governments moving to .gov as a requirement.”

The city will link durangogov.org to the new durangoco.gov domain once it’s live. Before killing the old domain for good years later, it will feature a splash page informing users of the change.

In the meantime, the city will continue to alert people to the new web address.

The name change also saves the city some light change. Historically, the city paid $400 to keep its domain name, but there was no fee for registering durangoco.gov with the federal government.

Get.gov, a government website about U.S. government websites, says in an April 27, 2021, article that “.gov” domains would be available at no cost for qualifying organizations beginning that day.

It says “.gov” is a top-level domain, identifying governments on the internet should be easy, and the “.gov” domain is a simple, verified mark that the layman can’t confuse for a “.com” or “.org” website.


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