Your first love. Your first pet. Your first car. And Mom – what was her last name before she got married?
The preceding paragraph was not a trip down memory lane. Rather it is a list of some of the most commonly asked questions on Web sites and mobile apps to verify who you are. Where at one time a simple username and password were enough, now you could be answering one of almost a half-dozen questions and answer pairs to log into an online service. With everyone wanting a higher degree of security, these types of extended login functions are becoming more commonplace.
But I have a secret to share with you. Lie!
When these challenge questions started popping up on online services, I pondered their need, as well as the fact that more personal information about myself would be out there in random databases, and probably not encrypted or secured as well credit card information (or as well as credit card information should be secured!). Though these seem harmless questions, the information can be very personal, yet for some reason we share it.
That’s when I decided to lie – rather than put my Mom’s maiden name on the Web or app form when it is asked, I lied. Instead I put in something different altogether. For ease of remembering, I often use the same answers to similar questions, bit if I am using an online service I may not go back to, I will completely make something up.
The advantage to using a made-up answer to a security challenge question is that should this information get hacked into or otherwise compromised, further personal details of my life are not out there. The disadvantage to this is you will need to remember or log somewhere these questions and answers. Granted there are online secured “wallets” for this type of information, but those too need passwords and perhaps challenge questions and answers too.
Until something better comes along for secured access to online services, username, passwords and challenge question and answer pairs will be prevalent. By using an answer other than the truth, you can feel a little more private. Plus nobody has to know your first pet was a French poodle named Fifi Petunia Marmalade.
This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.
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