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Blogging

Dangerous Questions

In chatspeak, TMI means “too much information.”

When it comes to blogging, providing TMI could mean particular problems, especially when it comes to subjecting the writer to possible identity theft risks.

Consider those silly little questions that you have to answer any time you open a new online account:

What is your mother’s maiden name?

What is your favorite restaurant?

What city were you born in?

What was your first pet’s name?

Those are a few of the more common questions. Now, bloggers, think carefully: how many of those questions have you actually answered somewhere on your blog?

Chances are you’ve answered at least one of them. I’m pretty sure I’ve answered one of the ones I listed myself, but because I know that this information is somewhere on the blog — at least I think it is — this particular question is not one I select as a preferred security question.

Is it paranoia to worry about things to this degree?

Probably.

But then, better safe than sorry. Here is a list of common security questions. It’s worth taking a look at to see how many of them you might have answered unknowingly.

If your blog has a search option, you could always do a search for the answer to a question you suspect, and if it turns up in the context of the question as asked, you’ll have a good idea of which questions to avoid selecting as your own security questions on your various accounts.

4 Comments

  1. Not to necrocomment (Sure that’s a word…don’t look it up) your post, but I was listening to the Mac Power Users podcast one day and they actually made a fairly obvious point that never occurred to me: you can answer those questions with anything you want. Favourite teacher? Banana. First pet? Koala. Favourite food? Grammar. And so on.
    Obviously you’ll want to pick an answer you will remember, but I don’t think we usually realize that the answers don’t have to be true. It’s a nice curve ball to throw at anyone thinking themselves a genius trying to hack you with some fast facts from your social media “100 Things About Me” post.

    1. msalakka I like the “necrocomment.” Never heard of it before, but I might have to make a blog post out of it some day! 🙂 
      You’re absolutely right: you can fake whatever data you mention. But once you establish your security answers on your accounts, it’s not always the easiest thing in the world to go back and change those basic account-opening answers, which means you’re probably better off faking the information you post online on a blog or social media.
      Still, for me, it comes to one of those basic problems about lying: sooner or later, you either have to remember the lie or it’ll come back to bit you! 🙂

  2. I don’t think it’s paranoid. I think it’s just being realistic.

    When I sign up on bank sites etc, I often wonder why more of them don’t allow me to write my own security question. I prefer to do that whenever possible.

    1. So do I. I’ve seen a few sites that will actually allow you to do that, and when that happens, my “question” becomes more of a prompt for a password response that only I would know.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.