A new internet domain for the CPA profession: .cpa

By Erik Asgeirsson

Today, the AICPA and CPA.com are launching .cpa, a restricted Internet domain exclusively for the CPA profession.

Only licensed CPA firms and – starting next year – individual CPAs will be able to sign up for the new top-level domain, a term that refers to the last letters of an email address or website name (most commonly .com).

The new .cpa domain has several advantages for the profession:

  • It allows better, more focused branding
  • It provides better security and resistance to Internet fraud
  • It promotes greater trust in firms’ online interactions with clients and the public
  • It demonstrates that firms are progressive and professional in the digital sphere

Restricted or protected domains such as .cpa are part of the next, more secure, generation of the Internet, what I like to think of as “Internet 2.0.” It’s no secret that Internet fraud is on the rise. The latest FBI statistics show that losses from Internet crime rose to $3.5 billion in 2019, an increase of more than 50% from 2016.

A recent Ponemon Institute survey found that 57% of small businesses reported instances of phishing or social engineering attacks in the past 12 months, many tied to fraudulent look-alike or spoofed domain addresses. For CPAs entrusted with sensitive client data, it goes without saying that a data breach, ransomware demand or other malicious attack could be devastating.

The rollout of the .cpa domain is part of a global movement aimed at improving security online. You may have noticed the introduction of restricted or protected domains, such as .bank or .pharmacy, in other sectors. Since trust is an essential component of the CPA profession, we’re early movers on this adoption curve. But it will become more and more common in business – and more recognizable to clients.

“Trust is a crucial commodity in business and on the Internet, and it’s a cornerstone of the CPA profession,” AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, said today in a press release. “The .cpa domain will signal you’re doing business with a licensed CPA firm or individual CPA, so it provides an additional level of trust, security and brand recognition in online interactions.”

We’re committed to making sure that .cpa domain names are distributed in a systematic way. Here’s how the process works:

  • All firms can begin submitting applications today, Sept 1st,  at domains.cpa, provided they are licensed and agree to actually use any domain names they acquire.
  • The initial application phase runs from today until Oct. 31, with the goal of helping firms obtain domains that are most consistent with their current digital branding.
  • No one gets to jump the queue in this initial phase – domain names will be awarded according to logic-based criteria verified by an independent third-party.
  • Firms in this early phase will be notified of the outcome of their domain name applications no later than early November.
  • Starting Nov. 5,  firms are free to apply for any available .cpa name on a rolling, “first come, first served” basis.
  • Beginning in January 2021, individual licensed CPAs will be able to apply.

We have a position paper that explains the benefits and background of the restricted .cpa domain in greater detail, as well as an explanatory video. For more information, or to apply for your preferred domain name, please visit domains.cpa.

—  Erik Asgeirsson is president and CEO of CPA.com. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Jeff Drew, a JofA senior editor, at Jeff.Drew@aicpa-cima.com.

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