It’s funny how, when we’re asked to supply information that will be used for our security, we don’t think twice about telling the truth. We can be more than happy to give out our mother’s maiden name, where we were born and even what we called our first pet. But while telling the truth in these situations may mean that things are easier for us to remember, we must also keep in mind that they can also expose us.
Think about all of the web sites you have an account with. Now, think about what kind of information each may have asked you for when you signed up with them. When you put them all together, it becomes apparent just how much of your personal information may be out there.
Not Just About Site Security
The security of the site you’re applying to may or may not be top notch, but that is, unfortunately not the only thing to worry about. If it’s been awhile since you’ve updated your virus definitions or completed a malware scan, then you could be putting yourself at risk, as well.
A keylogger is software used by hackers to obtain the information you type in while online. This includes the information you give to sites when you sign up. All you have to do to execute a keylogger is to click on an infected image or link on a web site or in an email. You may never know that a keylogger was installed on your site until you see discrepancies in your bank account or realize that your identity has been stolen.
Web Sites Don’t Know What’s True
When faced with what to enter in for an answer to the security question on a web site, it’s important to remember that the web site itself doesn’t know and doesn’t care whether what you’re entering in is the truth. But this is where most of us tend to falter, as it becomes an issue of how to remember the information we entered on each site. But remembering what we enter doesn’t have to be difficult; we simply need to change our perception of the information we submit.
Ignoring the Questions
Using a series of words having nothing to do with the nature of the questions being asked is a good tactic to try. For example, instead of entering in what a web site asks for, i.e. a name, why not choose a series of colors instead?
So perhaps for every ‘maiden name’ requested, you could type in ‘green’. And the make of your first car could be ‘orange’. This can make it easier for you to remember what it was you entered in the next time you sign up for a site. Another way is to enter in the same word, whether it be a color, flavor or something else, into each of the fields before you.
Writing a Story
Another way to go is to write a fictitious story about yourself. Or maybe you want to write more than one. But whether it’s one or more, including a lot of details you can then use as information to be entered into any site requiring an account.
Of course, the trick here is to enter in as many details as possible. You can lie about where you parents came from, make up fake family and country names, and even use dates. For example, your father Earl may have married Daisy Jones on the Mayflower on June 5th as it traveled from Muldavia to New Jersey. This offers several options for information that can be entered into question fields.
Of course, any alternative security method can have its caveats. For instance, using the same color to answer the same type of security question can still end up in that information being stolen. And by having a wide variety of different words or phrases can make it nearly impossible to remember everything.
Writing down the information is a big no-no, and something that most of us don’t do anyway. So it may make more sense to use colors, names or events which make enough sense to you that you don’t have to write them down or record them in some other way, such as on your smartphone or on your thumb drive.
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Guest author Jodi Grant writes on a variety of topics, particularly related to technology. She helps consumers locate internet service providers in their area by providing a useful methodology for comparing available options.