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City completes transition to .GOV, encourages users to update contacts

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The City of Rochester has completed its transition from .NET to .GOV. The transition primarily affects online services and emails for city staff and elected representatives. Officials are encouraging residents and business owners to update their bookmarks and contacts to reflect the change.

Since the mid-90s, the City’s official website and email addresses have been punctuated by a .NET domain. According to Sonja Gonzalez, the City’s Chief Information Officer, the transition to a .GOV domain was not just long overdue, it was critical.

Gonzalez states that the principal reason for updating to the new [.GOV] domain was to protect citizens and public assets, improve authenticity, and security.

“Using domains like .COM and .ORG allow cybercriminals to more easily impersonate municipal officials, defraud the public, and fool individuals into sharing sensitive information because you can easily purchase very similar domains,” said Gonzalez. “.GOV domains are managed by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) which vets each request to ensure that it’s for a legitimate government agency.”

Passed by Congress in December 2021, the DOTGOV Online Trust in Government Act provides security enhancements and support services to local agencies that seek to transition to a .GOV domain. 

The law also reduces or eliminates the cost associated with the transition, which experts agree is essential to the improvement of internet security practices.

Many state and local governments still operate their websites with .NET, .COM, and .ORG domains, but that is starting to shift as they move to more secure and trusted .GOV domains.

Gonzalez, who started with the City of Rochester in 2017, has made it her goal to ensure that municipal assets are secure by adopting cyber security best practices. 

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