Today, on 1 October 2015, the federal government is kicking off a large-scale nationwide campaign on safe passwords. For the first time, the business world, the academic sector and the Cyber Security Coalition have pledged their support.
CERT.be, the federal cyber emergency team, aims to use the campaign to encourage everyone to use passphrase instead of passwords. After all, the longer your password, the better your online protection.
According to CERT.be coordinator Christian Van Heurck, “passwords remain the key to a host of personal and professional information, despite new possibilities such as fingerprints, facial recognition, etc. For instance, having access to a person’s email gives you access to his or her life: documents, purchases, photographs of the children, social media or professional accounts … A longer password will help you protect key accounts, yourself, your family and your work.”
That is why the campaign advises people to use a passphrase. “A passphrase is a sentence that’s easy to memorise and that is also safer than an “ordinary” password due to its length. For instance, do not use “Belgium” as a password but use a passphrase instead, such as ‘BelgiumAtEuro2016!’. Including punctuation, numbers and capitals in your sentence will make your password much safer”, says Christian Van Heurck.
A survey conducted by the Belgian government with 1000 Belgians clearly indicated a campaign like this is absolute necessary. Just a few key figures:
• Belgians are moderately to very concerned about their online security when it comes to e-commerce (57.5%), the use of public Wifi (55.6%) and social media (48.4%),
• 46.2% of Belgians do not use passwords longer than 8 characters
• 1 in 3 Belgians share their passwords with third parties. In the -18 age bracket the percentage rises to a staggering 42.9%.
• 1 in 4 Belgians use the same password for professional and personal applications.
The impact of the campaign is boosted by the support of the cross-sectoral Cyber Security Coalition. Organisations belonging to this coalition are spreading the word among their own staff, customers and the public at large.
“This type of collaboration gives fresh impetus to the Belgian digital landscape and raises our awareness of cyber security”, claims Nathalie Dewancker of the Cyber Security Coalition. “Whether you’re a company collecting data or an individual handling important personal data, we are all a link in the chain.”
Go to www.safeonweb.be for more tips, a password test and campaign material.
1. The longer your password, the safer. Use a pass phrase: a phrase is long and also easier to remember
2. Include punctuation, numbers and/or capitals in your pass phrase
3. Do not reuse passwords
4. Never share your passwords
5. Do not record your passwords in a document stored on your computer or smartphone and do not write them down on a post-it near your device.