Tag Archives: secret questions

Social media memes and secret questions

Back in 2012, Virus Bulletin published an article of mine called Living the Meme about how meme-ish things shared on social media might be an invitation to give away information that could be useful to an attacker.

If I can quote myself (of course I can!)

Secret answers to security questions posed by banking sites and the like as a supplement to passwords, or for people who forget their passwords, are pretty stereotyped. Names of relatives, names of pets, first school, childhood address and so on are highly characteristic, so some security commentators suggest inventing answers to such questions rather than using real data. That’s a logical alternative to inventing your own challenge/response – which is rarely an option – and I’m all in favour of it, as long as it doesn’t contravene some legal or quasi-legal restriction.

In a recent article Brian Krebs makes a similar point, but cites a number of up-to-date examples where ‘seemingly innocuous little quizzes, games and surveys’ ask for information similar to that used for online accounts as ‘secret questions’: Don’t Give Away Historic Details About Yourself.

David Harley

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