Expert advice on how to answer common online security questions

2023 is shaping up to be a record year for data breaches
Published: Jul. 13, 2023 at 3:56 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

(InvestigateTV) — Through the first half of the year, the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) has tracked nearly 1,400 data compromises, higher than the total compromises reported every year between 2005 and 2020 except for 2017.

Adam Levin, longtime consumer advocate and cohost of the podcast “What the Hack,” said one piece of data often compromised in breaches are personal answers to security questions.

The problem with common security questions like, “What’s your maiden name?” or “The name of your favorite pet,” is they can become a liability when your data is leaked online.

“You don’t need to be truthful with the answer to your security question, because it’s not as if you’re being interviewed for a security clearance,” Levin explained.

Levin said all that a particular app, website or company cares about when asking security questions is that the original answer is given when asked the question in the future.

He suggested users treat security question answers the same as passwords: use unique answers for every site visited.

Levin shared other tips to keep personal data safe online:

  • Change passwords regularly
  • Use different passwords for every account
  • Create strong passwords or use a password manager program
  • Never use “password” or other easily guessable phrases as passwords

Consumers can check to see if their accounts have been breached by going to Have I Been Pwnd. Simply enter your information and the site will report if it has been exposed.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has further advice for how to protect personal data online.