How To Choose Good Security Questions

After the Password, there is another layer for account protection, it is a good security question. They are implemented so as to recover password in case you forget but should be strong enough to avoid misuse.

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In this article, we will learn how to choose security questions for better safety of your account.

Knowing how to keep your data safe comes very handy. Security questions, for example, complement your password-security by adding a layer of it to fortify your data storage. Thus, with a security question, before logging into your information, one is hit with a 2-step verification process – i.e. password and security question.

Security questions also offer that safety net in case you forget your passwords. Service sites can easily authenticate your identity by asking you to provide the answer (that you should only know) to a security question you set up. Thus, preventing any risk of providing access to intruders. This also works when you log into your accounts using devices that are unfamiliar to the site or from a new location.

How To Choose a Good Security Question

You want your security question to be as unique for you as possible but you don’t want it to be so exclusive that you can easily forget the answer to.  A good criterion to follow is to not choose questions with answers that can change over time because this most certainly will confuse you. Avoid questions with answers that can be easily researched thus making it easy for intruders and hackers to guess them.

To make the process easier several standard steps and criteria can easily determine and indicate the strength of your security questions. The 5 common criteria are:

Safe Security Question

1. Safe Questions -Not Easy to Guess

Safe questions make it extremely difficult for attackers to search over the internet or guess. With the evolving technology on the tips of our fingers, much of the info that we sometimes consider safe may not be so.

A question such as  “what high school did you attend?” , may not be as unfamiliar. This information is not only common knowledge to family, friends, and acquaintances; it can also be available on our social media accounts.

2. Consistent Questions – Don’t Change

consistent question

Consistent questions are those that don’t have answers that change over time. It is good to have such questions because the answers are easier to remember. Questions such as “what is the name of your first pet?” bear answers that are not changeable and are easy to remember.

For website site owners, it is also wise to set questions that appeal to different groups of the mass. Questions such as “What is your first child’s middle name?” may not be ideal because not everyone has children.

Additionally, questions with variable answers may not always work. For example, asking about someone’s favorite dish or movie doesn’t guarantee to gauge the same answer because people’s preferences change over time.

3. Memorable Questions

memorable question

Above all, you want the answer to the security question to be memorable. A question such as “ what was your first pet’s name? ” is easy to remember and is also not too obvious for someone to figure out. Other life meaning events can also serve as good security questions because they are normally personable to the individual and very memorable.

Asking questions with memorable answers is also a stable way to keep security over your information because they are no risks of forgetting and the answers never change. However, keep timelines to a minimum. Avoid using security questions that ask events for a far past, for example, if a sixty-year-old is using the account – you don’t want to ask them events from their childhood. Chances are that they will not remember!

4. Definitive Questions

It gets even better if you have a memorable, safe and very simple security question. Simple questions require a straight and easy answer and normally, they do not confuse the account owner. Direct questions such as “what month and year was your mother born on?” are very straight forward and come pre-formatted for the answer. Thus, the answer is simple – for example, July 1950.

Social Engineering

social engineering

As much as you want a simple and memorable password, always go for security questions with potentially several answers on your attacker’s perspective. A good example is your first pet’s name – there just isn’t any possible way that the attacker can know and the guessing game eventually becomes vague.

With the technological dependency that our society bears, hackers have it easy with avenues such as social media accounts, malware, and phishing attacks which make their vendettas even easier.

Even answering social media gimmicks and quizzes such as those on Buzzfeed are simple and innocent activities that we engage in without knowing that we are sharing information.

Such quizzes may ask for the name of your first pet or your shoe size and all this information can be very useful to hackers and individuals that are tracking you. Thus, it is wise to always be vigilant, ask yourself before sharing anything online and even if you do, don’t share it all.

There are, however, steps you can follow to further fortify your data and accounts online. Explore the use of multifactor authentication, if sites allow you too. It is safer to use such sites.  Sites bear steps to follow before you are granted access to an account this may be passwords and security questions whilst some are as advanced as keys, cards, fingerprinting or face recognition just to mention a few.

Some sites even go as far as requiring a real-time authentication by sending a code to your portable devices and requiring you to enter it upon logging in. It all depends on your vigilance, a strong password and security questions that correctly follow the criterion may be all you need to ensure your data security is tight.

List of Good Security Questions

  1. What was your childhood nickname?
  2. In what city did you meet your spouse/significant other?
  3. What is the name of your favorite childhood friend?
  4. What street did you live on in third grade?
  5. What is your oldest sibling’s birthday month and year? (e.g., January 1900)
  6. What is the middle name of your youngest child?
  7. What is your oldest sibling’s middle name?
  8. What school did you attend for sixth grade?
  9. What was your childhood phone number including area code?
  10. What is your oldest cousin’s first and last name?
  11. What was the name of your first stuffed animal?
  12. In what city or town did your mother and father meet?
  13. Where were you when you had your first kiss?
  14. What is the first name of the boy or girl that you first kissed?
  15. What was the last name of your third grade teacher?
  16. In what city does your nearest sibling live?
  17. What is your youngest brother’s birthday month and year? (e.g., January 1900)
  18. What is your maternal grandmother’s maiden name?
  19. In what city or town was your first job?
  20. What is the name of the place your wedding reception was held?
  21. What is the name of a college you applied to but didn’t attend?
  22. Where were you when you first heard about 9/11?

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