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Colorado wants $2 million to change its domain name to .gov

The Governor's Office of Information Technology said the change will resolve a "serious security risk" that currently exists.

DENVER — What's in a name? 

For the state of Colorado, the answer is $2 million taxpayer dollars — the sum the Governor's Office of Information Technology has requested to change all state government websites and email addresses to a .gov domain name.

Some state websites currently have a .state.co.us extension, which the state calls a "serious security risk." It said someone could spoof a fake state site ending in .us and use it to scam people who think the fake site is the real deal. 

"People will click on links in texts and links in emails that will take them to a site that looks right, but isn't," said MSU Computer Science Professor Steve Beaty. 

He said that common commercial domains like .com, .net, .org and .us are not as tightly controlled as .gov web address extensions. "The .govs are more strictly regulated and so we can place a certain amount of additional trust into the .gov domains," he said. 

Colorado is one of only seven states still using .us domain addresses, according to the funding proposal first reported by the Colorado Sun. In addition to the risk of "phishing attempts" from the .us domains, it is also interfering with state officials' abilities to work with federal partners. 

"The State of Colorado has had difficulty participating in security briefings with federal agencies and the White House because to register for these briefings, a valid government (.gov) email address is required," the funding proposal said.

It won't be easy to make the change, Beaty said. "It’s not only just making sure that all of the domain names get switched, but we need to test them all," he said. 

"We need to make sure that they all still work for everybody, on all of the browsers, on all the phones, on all of the sites, which is an extensive amount of work," he said. 

Colorado has already begun transitioning some email and government website domains to a .gov extension, but the governor's office said in its proposal that the $2 million in funding will help it complete the effort.

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