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Make a Backup First


Make a Backup First

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Scott D. Jacobson
Scott D. Jacobson
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jay-h (8/22/2012)
One of the lessons from this hack is how tough it is to control accross multiple accounts. The Amazon and Apple means of authentication were not all that bad in themselves, but each leaked different information, and this different information could be combined.

With people posting all sorts of things (unfortunately as with Facebook and other accounts tied to Facebook) with their own names, it's not hard to extract a lot of information... where you live, where you shop, names of your pets and children, your car, your hobbies and habits, your extended family members ... enough could be put together from 'innocent' references to create a pretty good social hack.


And this is why most security questions are utterly useless. I should not only be able to provide the answers, you should let me pick my own questions too. "Where were you born?" isn't secure at all and easily picked up from publicly available information.
Miles Neale
Miles Neale
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Scott D. Jacobson (8/22/2012)
And this is why most security questions are utterly useless. I should not only be able to provide the answers, you should let me pick my own questions too. "Where were you born?" isn't secure at all and easily picked up from publicly available information.


A creative answer to a insecure question can be more secure then we realize. The question "Where were you born?" could be answered:

1. Third floor
2. Near Mom
3. xTown
4. NH0sP1T@l
5. b0St0nm@ss
6. t@xiC@bb

Just takes a little creativity and a good memory, and a handy password safe.
:-):-)

Not all gray hairs are Dinosaurs!
paul.knibbs
paul.knibbs
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Miles Neale (8/22/2012)
Just takes a little creativity and a good memory, and a handy password safe.
:-):-)


The problem there is that these questions are usually intended to allow you to get back in when you've forgotten your main password, so making the answer a password in itself is a bit counter-productive. I can certainly see value in giving the name of the hospital or street you were born in rather than the town, though--true, that information is likely available to anyone who digs deep enough, but it would require a lot more work on their behalf.
jay-h
jay-h
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Yes the question should be something obscure, but something that you can always remember even under pressure. Questions like 'what is your favorite movie' are pretty stupid because you would need to figure out what was your favorite when you created the question. Also is it '23 N. Wilson St' or '23 North Wilson Street' or.... Abbreviations cans really mess you up especially if you have a limited number of times to get it right.

...

-- FORTRAN manual for Xerox Computers --
Miles Neale
Miles Neale
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paul.knibbs (8/23/2012)
Miles Neale (8/22/2012)
Just takes a little creativity and a good memory, and a handy password safe.
:-):-)


The problem there is that these questions are usually intended to allow you to get back in when you've forgotten your main password, so making the answer a password in itself is a bit counterproductive. I can certainly see value in giving the name of the hospital or street you were born in rather than the town, though--true, that information is likely available to anyone who digs deep enough, but it would require a lot more work on their behalf.


Thanks Paul, and I understand your point. However the use of security questions is not limited to the second path to getting into a system or other secured resource. In certain two-phase security strategies there are at least two vehicles a user must provide before access is granted. One is usually the userid and password pair. The second can be a variety of things from a fob to some biometric factor. These include cadence, eye-scan, fingerprint etc. But some systems are not able to afford such technology.

The use of a collection of security questions and answers will often be used as the second identifying factor in application or system security. In this strategy the users is allowed to select 5 or 6 questions from a list of questions and give appropriate answers. In some strategies the user can create 5 or 6 different unique questions them selves. When the user later tries to login to the system they are required to answer two of three randomly selected questions or they are not allowed to enter the system. When this approach is given as an option the user can better protect themselves by not giving an obvious answer and using something more like the password strategy offered earlier.

Not all gray hairs are Dinosaurs!
phonetictalk
phonetictalk
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A creative answer to a insecure question can be more secure then we realize. The question "Where were you born?" could be answered:

1. Third floor
2. Near Mom
3. xTown
4. NH0sP1T@l
5. b0St0nm@ss
6. t@xiC@bb

Just takes a little creativity and a good memory, and a handy password safe.
:-):-)


Good grief. There I was thinking that I was being insecure by ignoring the variety of questions and choosing the same answer regardless of the question, and it turns out that I'm being a little more secure. Who would ever guess that my favourite pet's name looks suspiciously like my first postcode? +1 for laziness!

Leonard
Madison, WI
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