Online security

13 July 2019

Passphrases: how to better protect your access

Cybercriminals are forever developing new techniques to hack your passwords. It is a well-known fact that to maximise protection your passwords must be strong. This means they must have many characters. The disadvantage? The longer and more complicated they are, the more difficult they are to remember. The solution? Passphrases!

What is a passphrase?

Simply phrases which are simple and easy to remember but difficult for cybercriminals to hack. An example says far more than a long speech:

I go to bed at 10:30 p.m.

Such a passphrase is very safe as it consists of many characters and uses letters, digits and symbols. Nonetheless it is easy to remember.


Spaces and punctuation are also considered to be symbols. It is also much easier to type and avoid typing errors.

Using passphrases safely: 7 tips

The advice for using passphrases is the same as that for passwords. Here are some reminders.

1. Use a different pass phrase for each account

This is the top tip for ensuring the security of your accounts.

2. Keep your passphrases secret

Do not share your passphrases with anyone, nor how you created them! Once somebody knows your passphrase it is no longer safe.

3. Do not use public computers

Hotel computers or cyber cafés can be infected. If you need to log on to your personal accounts, always use a device you know and which you trust.

4. Beware of personal questions as authentication

Some sites ask you to answer personal questions which can be used in the event you were to forget your password/phrase. In which city were you born? What is your mother’s maiden name? etc. Caution, as the answers to such questions can generally be found on the internet or on your social networks!

5. Use dual-stage authentication whenever possible

You can activate such authentication on some sites. This means that you must first identify yourself with your passphrase and you will then receive an authentication code on your mobile phone. In other words, dual protection! To find out more, read our article on such 2-stage authentication.

6. Change your PIN number into a phrase

With some mobile devices you can change your PIN number into a passphrase. Make sure you do it to strengthen your security!

7. Monitor your accounts

Last important tip: if you no longer use an account, think to delete it. It might seem stupid but it could prevent you from being hacked!

Good to know

Not easy to remember all your passphrases? Just like passwords they can be stored safely in a programme called a password manager. In this way your will only have two passphrases to remember: that for access to your computer and that for the password manager.

Check regularly that you are properly protected