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.
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.
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 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?
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.
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!
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.
Daniel, the British male voice on Siri, is that of Jon Briggs. [more...]