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Town of Lexington to change to .gov URL, seeking increased cybersecurity | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware


Lexington will soon become the third municipality in the county to operate with a .gov domain.

In August 2023, Lexington Town Council unanimously decided to start the transition of the town’s website and emails from the current .com domain extension to a .gov extension. The switch for the town will be free as the .gov domain does not require a yearly cost, said John Hanson, director of planning, building and technology for the town.

Lexington will join the cities of Cayce and West Columbia, which already use .gov addresses. The small town of Swansea also uses a .gov address, but it’s hosted by the state through sc.gov.

During a Jan. 16 Town Council workshop, Hanson said the town had to secure permission from verse with the Department of Homeland Security, working with that agency to make sure it fulfilled the requirements. These included benchmarks for cybersecurity.

At an August meeting last year, Council Member Gavin Smith said .gov domains are only available to bonafide US-based government organizations, adding that it signals trust and credibility.

The domain itself is administered by an agency within Homeland Security, with Hanson stating that the reason for this is to ensure that only legitimate government entities can use the domain, which maintains the security and credibility of government websites.

Hanson said that this additional security and credibility are among the key benefits the town will get from making the transition, adding that it will also lend a sense of professionalism. The security that comes with a .gov domain also makes it more difficult for scammers to impersonate those websites.

“By transitioning to a .gov domain, the town can provide its residents with a more secure, credible, and compliant online presence, making it easier for them to access official information and services,” he said, adding that both the domain and town issued emails will change to .gov.

Hanson said the switch will also make the town itself less vulnerable to cybercriminals or instances that could potentially lead to it getting hacked.

This transition won’t be quick and easy, though, with Hanson explaining that for a municipality the size of Lexington it will take roughly 1.5 years to complete the transition. He added that how long the transition will take depends on a few different factors, including the complexity of the website, the need for redirects and the level of support that is required.

The issue of whether to make the transition was initially brought up in July 2023 by Bea Daniels, former IT manager for the town, during an earlier council workshop. Daniels posited that the town shouldn’t have been a .com domain because it’s intended for commercial use.

“We’re not business, we’re not e-commerce and we don’t do advertising,” she said. “So we need to move away from that so that we’re easily recognized as a government.”



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