A jealous spouse, angry ex-partner or even stranger can cause a lot of trouble if they gain access to your online accounts. So it’s important to protect your accounts with a good security question.
Security questions like ‘What is your pet’s name?’ or ‘Where is your hometown?’ are too easy to figure out, even by strangers who don’t know you as this information can easily be found online through social media networks.
Not to fear though, we’re going to give you some tips on how to pick a good security question to help you keep your information safe from hackers. We’ll also share some tips on the most secure ways to answer preset security questions.
What makes a good security question?
When picking a good security question you need to choose something that is:
- Hard to guess or find out, both for strangers and for people who know you well.
- Easy to remember.
- Doesn’t change over time so you can answer it correctly every time.
- Has many potential answers, but only one clear cut answer to you.
- Is short and simple to answer.
What to avoid when picking a good security question:
- Favourite foods or colours as these change over time.
- Birthdays are poor because they’re easy to find online.
- School name or location as this information is easy to find out online.
Examples of good security questions
If you’re able to customise your security questions, here are some good security questions you can use:
- What was the last name of your third-grade teacher? It’s unlikely that you’ve answered this anywhere, teachers change over time and most schools will have multiple teachers for each grade.
- What was the name of the boy/girl you had your second kiss with? You’ve probably told multiple people about your first kiss but it’s unlikely you went into great detail online about your second kiss.
- What was the name of your second pet? Your first pet’s name is way more obvious than your second pet. However, only use this question if your second pet isn’t your current one.
- Where were you on New Year’s Eve in 2000? Since Myspace and Facebook didn’t exist back in 2000 it’s unlikely that this is posted anywhere.
- Where were you when you had your first kiss? Great question, even if you talked about having your first kiss online it’s unlikely you went into great detail about where you were.
- What is the first name of the person who has the middle name of Herbert? Tough question to answer. It is very unlikely that you’ve posted this anywhere, and since most people do not have their full names online, this make a good security question.
- Who was your childhood hero? Since a childhood hero could be anyone, this could be a good security question as long as the answer is not Superman, your dad/mum or your brother/sister.
What can you do if you can’t pick your own security question?
If you’re not able to customise your security question, don’t fret! We’ve got you covered. Here are some ideas you can use to answer preset security questions more securely:
Lie: If you lie, your answer won’t be predictable to hackers right? For example, your first pet’s name can be Julius Caesar, your best friend in kindergarten can be Bruce Wayne. Just make sure you remember what you put as your answer.
A great way to remember these untruthful security questions is by using a password manager like LastPass. Password managers provide a secure way to store your secret answers and logins. You can even generate your own random answers to ensure maximum security!
Get Creative: To keep your security questions secure you can create your own code for your answers.
For example, your mother’s maiden name is Smith but your answer to this question might be ‘Tnjui’ or your birthplace is London but the code for it would be ‘Nodnol’. It’s just important that you use a password manager to help remember the code that you used.
If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy how password cracking works.