A secure internet experience is a right

11 January 2022

It is the mission of DNS Belgium to monitor the safety, quality and reliability of the internet in our country. Our entire organisation and all our people are committed to this day in and day out. Each department does so in its own way and on the basis of its own area of specialisation.

Numerous security specialists at Engineering ensure that the internal and external applications and the entire infrastructure used by DNS Belgium are adequately protected. ‘A large part of our daily work revolves around cyber security', says team leader Guy.

Cybersecurity is one of Engineering's top priorities. The many incidents we hear about in the media confirm that this focus on security is right and necessary. That is why we have a colleague in house at DNS Belgium who works full-time and exclusively on security: our security officer Kristof.

Creating awareness

Everyone who uses the internet at home or at work must be aware of the risks. The Communication department has an important role to play here. 'We want to give users confidence in .be domain names by showing them everything we do to keep .be secure, including articles on our website, but we also want to make them aware of the dangers of the internet and offer as many tips as possible for a secure online experience', says Arnaud from Communication.

The communication team sees it as its task to ensure that this message reaches every internet user in a clear and understandable way: children, young people, SMEs, the elderly, people with a disability, domain name holders, etc. 'We want all Belgians to have the best and safest internet experience possible. That is why we spend a lot of time on information and awareness campaigns', says Hilde from Communication. An example of this is the recent campaign geared specifically to older people, which included a quiz to test their knowledge of shopping online securely.

Focusing on safety even more

The focus on security has changed the jobs of all the people at DNS Belgium. ‘We used to talk about cybersecurity, of course', Hilde continues. ‘There have been abuses as long as the internet exists. But as the internet grows, so do the number and types of abuse.’

‘Security incidents are on the rise worldwide. An increased threat from outside is making us invest more and more in better and more comprehensive security,' says Guy from Engineering. 'Our registrars have undoubtedly noticed that we are imposing stricter authentication and authorisation rules on them,' says Guy. 'In principle, the registrant notices less of this, except in a rather exceptional case where we contact him or her because his or her registration details seem incorrect.’

‘Focusing more on cybersecurity translates into more initiatives in that area, such as tracking down actively domain names that are used for phishing or scanning our platforms more intensively for security leaks,' adds Maarten from R&D.

An increased threat from outside is making us invest more and more in better and more comprehensive security.

Our colleagues from the support department have also noticed that their jobs have changed due to the increased focus on cyber security. 'While we used to refer people with complaints about websites to the registrar, the police or the FPS Economy, we now look at what we can do ourselves to take a domain name offline,' says Jonas.

‘We check the data of registrants more thoroughly, even if they look very reliable at first sight. If we find that something is wrong, the registrant gets two weeks to confirm his data. We will also consider taking a website offline more quickly today, while verification of the data is pending.’

Stricter standards and faster intervention

Our Product department contributes to the security of the .be zone by regularly developing projects on features that enhance security. Our Product colleagues have tightened user management for registrars, for example, and registrar employees can no longer share accounts. Features such as Registrant Verification and Domain Shield also came about thanks to their creativity and expertise.  

We receive fewer complaints in our support department about fake web shops these days, and we have noticed that phishing is now focusing less on banks and more on other domains. 'Registrant verification, which was launched around this time last year, plays an important role in this. It stops suspicious domain names before they reach the .be zone and prevents them from making victims.'

The effort we make at DNS Belgium to keep the .be zone secure is important because we want to protect the users and the image of .be.

A secure .be zone

‘These are all very concrete things that registrants, users, registrar employees, etc. notice that we at DNS Belgium make an effort to keep the .be zone secure,' says Ronald from the Product department. ‘That is important because we want to protect the users and the image of .be.’

‘The attentive citizen may already have noticed that in the many phishing mails, there are only a few .be domains,' adds Guy. 'That is the case because, in addition to a well-secured infrastructure, we also strive to make the .be zone as reliable as possible.'

‘It is a right to be able to surf securely, to make online purchases, to use government portals, etc.  To give people confidence, we also have to make them resilient, and thus inform them in an understandable way that fits in with their world or work', Hilde concludes. ‘Most of the time, everything goes well and safely', Arnaud concurs. ‘And that's thanks to our efforts and the fact that people are becoming more aware of the possible pitfalls.’

With this article, we support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.