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Good security question for your account

Good security question for your account

On many popular web services one is required to choose or create a security question during the sign up process. This account safety feature helps in recovering or resetting the password in case you forget the login information. Sadly, some users, especially the newly initiated, don’t understand the full importance of the security question and take it kind of lightly only to have their accounts snatched away by hackers.

The secret answer to the security question is as vital to account safety as the password. In this blog post, I shall offer tips and explain how to choose or create a strong security question and set up a good secret answer.

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Choosing a security question

When the only option is to select a security question from a list, don’t just pick up one at random. Not all security questions are the same. A poor choice of security question and the answer can create a BIG security hole in your account. Here are two shoddy security questions.

  • Where did you spend your honeymoon?
    Most of your friends and family would know where you went right after marriage, right? You may also have put the honeymoon location on your profile at social networking web sites. This is definitely not a good choice of a security question.
  • Which is your favourite movie?
    A list of top 100 movies is available on IMDB and if your answer was “The Godfather” or “The Shawshank Redemption”… well. This is actually similar to using a password from the most commonly used passwords list.

Likewise, ‘Who is your favorite historical personality?’ may seem decent enough, but when you give it a little thought, you’ll realize that that too is not a good security question though not as bad as the two above.

Yes, the option of creating a security question is always a better bet than simply choosing one from a list, but as I mentioned above, not all services allow that. So what can be done in such cases?

I follow a simple rule of thumb – my answer is completely contrary to what I believe in. Example, for the ‘favorite historical person’ security question, I would put in the name of the person I’ve detested all my life!

Creating a good security question and secret answer

Creating your own security question gives you much more flexibility. You can be creative with both the question and the secret answer. This enhances the security of your account. So what are the hallmarks of a good security question and the secret answer?

  • It should be memorable.
  • Evidently it should not be something that can be either guessed outright or gleaned from your profile on social networking web sites.
  • Avoid the obvious: “Who was the first man on the moon?”

And now to the most important tip. Ideally, a good security question should be based on something you’ve kept hidden from everyone; we all have our little secrets, don’t we? For instance, the person you had a secret crush on in high school.

Bad security questions – how hackers get to your account

Now that you know how to create or choose a good security question, here are some really horrid (and funny) ones I’ve come across. Unbelievably these are all from the real world!

  • What color is the sky?
  • What’s the capital city of France?
  • Who is the president of the United States?
  • Which year was I born in?
  • How many children do I have?
  • What’s my twin sisters name?

As you can understand such bad security questions will make it super easy for hackers to get into your account. And once that happens, they will change the password and the security question which prevents you from accessing your own information. Hackers can then play havoc with the account. You can imagine the loss (and ignominy) that results when your privacy is blown to bits.

Conclusion: Ensure that you choose a good security question or make one whose answer is not apparent to others. The blog post on how to remember a password offers simple and invaluable tips on memorizing important information like your login details. This advice is also applicable for security questions and their secret answers.

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Your comments
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  • Charles Curly Eason on September 13th, 2011 6:28 am

    My account has been hacked. What shall I do????

  • Tania Nuccio on September 14th, 2011 3:44 pm

    Valuable advice. I was always kind of confused about the security question thingy. Now I know.

  • Brent Kietzer on November 17th, 2011 3:18 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experience here. Much appreciated.

  • Obinna Ephraim on March 4th, 2012 4:51 am

    Thank you for the advise. My Yahoo account is now doubly protected.

  • Ramanathan Arumugam on March 18th, 2012 11:27 am

    Nice to learn

  • Christopher Ryan on February 16th, 2013 6:14 am

    Now I understand the importance of those pesky security questions and why they are required. Thanks for putting such a dumbed-down article.

  • Joseph Turner on March 15th, 2013 5:59 pm

    I’ve recently created an email. This article has been of great help in understanding the security at the account. I liked the way you explained everything to a beginner. Thanks man.

  • Maysam on March 17th, 2013 9:03 am

    I forgot my email password. What can I do now? Help me, please.

  • Manish on March 17th, 2013 8:12 pm

    @Joseph Turner
    Cheers!

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