22 August 2017
Robert Siciliano

Identity Theft Expert

Robert Siciliano - IDTheftSecurity.com

739Posts 2,013,504Views 62Comments

Personal Knowledge or Qualifying Questions as Authenticators

04 May 2010  |  2861 views  |  2

How many times have you forgotten a password? Fortunately the website you were on only needed your username or an email address and they would respond with a few questions for you to answer. Once you responded with what was in the system you then re-set your password and you’re in.  Easy peazy.

What’s your favorite food? Where did you honeymoon? Your first pets name? Name of your first car? The name of your elementary school?  Your fathers middle name? All these questions are meant to replace that used-to-be-secret-obscure word that only you and your parents would know the answer too – your mothers maiden name.

Then came Ancestry.com, Geneology.com, Google and for crying out loud Facebook. Now much of this information is available by doing a quick search online via public records or it’s easy to guess if the “hacker” is an acquaintance.

I’m a member of an organization in which I have been granted access to a bank account we have. But I haven’t accessed the account in months.  Since the last time I logged in the bank instituted a qualifying question as another layer of protection. Instead of calling the other person who was also managing the account I simply guessed the answer. “Where did you go to high school?” I didn’t know where this person went to high school but I knew where his mother lived. I entered the name of the town and BOOM, I was in.

It shouldn’t be that easy.

 

 

TagsSecurityRisk & regulation

Comments: (3)

John Dring
John Dring - Intel Network Services - Swindon | 04 May, 2010, 09:32

Agreed. I just made a comment on the PIN problem Blog along similar lines - if making a record of your PIN/Password is a no-no, then what constitutes an acceptable reminder?  How would you even note a reminder for yourself for a password of "Qhos02!" for example.  Begins with Q ?  Or maybe "Quit whining about passwords TO remember!"

And what's with the call centres that attempt to authenticate you by asking your DOB and full address, and then proceed to administer your account for you on the phone?  I could be anyone.  Especially since so many sites ask you to register the same 'bank like' auth questions these days (just to look like they care about your security)?  They could be spread around and sold like CC number lists.  I still think a text alert or email everytime your account profile is updated is a must.

Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 thumb ups! (Log in to thumb up)
Robert Siciliano
Robert Siciliano - IDTheftSecurity.com - Boston | 04 May, 2010, 12:15

Great feedback John, Thank you.

Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 thumb ups! (Log in to thumb up)
A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 04 May, 2010, 14:46

I removed my DOB from my facebook account a while ago as a precaution against this sort of thing. Some information just shouldn't be *that* freely available!

Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 thumb ups! (Log in to thumb up)
Comment on this story (membership required)

Latest posts from Robert

What Was Scary About Blackhat 2017?

02 August 2017  |  5595 views  |  0 comments | recomends Recommends 0 TagsSecurity

Black Hat 2017 was an Amazing Event

29 July 2017  |  6212 views  |  0 comments | recomends Recommends 0 TagsSecurity

Blackhat Hackers Love Office Printers

28 July 2017  |  4901 views  |  0 comments | recomends Recommends 0 TagsSecurity

Getting Owned or Pwned SUCKS!

13 June 2017  |  5581 views  |  0 comments | recomends Recommends 0 TagsSecurity

Parents Beware of Finstagram

27 April 2017  |  5077 views  |  0 comments | recomends Recommends 0 TagsSecurity

Robert's profile

job title Security Analyst
location Boston
member since 2010
Summary profile See full profile »
Security analyst, published author, television news correspondent. Deliver presentations throughout the United States, Canada and internationally on identity theft protection and personal security....

Robert's expertise

Member since 2009
732 posts62 comments

Who's commenting on Robert's posts

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Adedeji Olowe