Denison considers change to .gov website address

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
The city of Denison is looking at transitioning its city website to a more secure .gov domain address.

What's in a name? For the city of Denison, a name change could mean increased security and protections online, actually.

The city of Denison is exploring its options for transitioning its website and other online resources to a new, more secure .gov address. The chance comes during a heightened focus on online security and protections from cyber threats by cities, states and other government organizations.

"That is just something in the 21st century that has become a daily thing for government entities and businesses," Denison Director of Communications and Engagement Aaron Werner said about potential cyber threats.

Traditionally, .gov website addresses are 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.

In order to receive a .gov address, an organization must meet certain requirements that often come at a high cost. While Denison officials have considered transitioning to a .gov address, the price tag proved to be too much and it instead kept its cityofdenison.com domain.

This recently changed as the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency opened up applications for .gov addresses to state, local, territorial and tribal groups at no cost.

"They would rather use it for state and local  governments for the security benefits than have to deal with cyber security threats," Werner said.

Part of the benefits of the address is the oversight and restrictiveness of CISA and how difficult it is to obtain one of these addresses. A common trick used online to obtain information is to impersonate a legitimate website, often with a similar name or address. However, as .gov addresses are harder to obtain than a .com address, there is less of a chance for someone to create a fake or misleading website.

"You know that if it is .gov, it is coming from that source," Werner said. "It provides a little bit more security for us knowing people can't take advantage of us in those ways."

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

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

Given the recent transition, the city of Sherman is unlikely to undergo another transition, Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said.