The security questions that have been designed to protect your account are not living up to their name anymore in these modern times, where we actually take the time to devise ways to put up more information about ourselves on the internet, rather than to keep it safe.
According to a report that Google has released recently, security questions are actually the single most insecure way to protect your accounts. Their data came from talking a look at the account recovery process that they have registered in Gmail along the years.
As it turns out, on one hand, some people selected the most obvious questions in the list and actually paired them with the most predictable answers possible, thus making it all too easy for hackers to break their account.
On the other hand, others come up with the oddest answers to the weirdest questions, so as to outsmart anybody who ever tries to get into their account and unfortunately, they got included into this category themselves soon after.
Google concluded that more than 40% of the people who have used these pesky security questions as protection measures for their accounts have forgotten their answers and were proved ineligible to access them.
The single most overused question was “What’s your favorite food?” that somehow almost always gets paired with the answer “Pizza”. Google actually looked deeper into the “favorite food” phenomenon and observed that 74% of people were able to remember the answer they had provided one month after setting it up.
Three months after though, it dropped to 53 % and after one year it plummeted to 47%. Now whether or not the 47% had answered “Pizza” to the question is information that Google was unable to provide, for obvious reasons.
There were some questions though that were actually proven successful, such as “What is your father’s middle name?” that people seemed to remember the answer to in a proportion of 76% or “What was your first phone number?” that 55% of the people who chose it seemed to be able to answer it as well.
“We conclude that it appears next to impossible to find secret questions that are both secure and memorable.”, stated the Google report.
They also pointed out that security questions are still somewhat relevant when they are combined with other protection features such as phone number recovery or an alternative e-mail address.
When used alone, security questions can prove to be quite unsafe, because online times have greatly changed since people have first set their security questions for their long-term e-mail accounts. And now, in the age of social media over-sharing, it can be outrageously simple to find the answer to questions like “What is your hometown?” because they are right there on every user’s profile.
With some hacking skills and the patience of looking through a Facebook profile, even amateurs can figure out the answers to all the easy security questions out there. So, for the safety of your information, take the time to revise the security settings of your account so that at least one alternative option is added to the security questions.
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