Not so secret security questions

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - We have all been presented online with secret questions and passwords.  This is supposed to help a company website know it is really you when you need a password reset.

How secret are those answers and should you give a completely different answer to the question to throw off cybercreeps?

We all see the security questions and take them seriously.  We dutifully enter in our Mother's maiden name when asked.  Where does that information go?  Is it really protected?  Is it really used to validate that it's you or does a cybercreep just need to know the answer?

With the recent Sony PlayStation breach, they are concerned that your answers to their secret questions might be at risk.

Cyber Expert Theresa Payton says that you may want to think about how you answer those secret security questions on various sites.

When you fill out a job or bank application, you need to truthfully answer these questions.  When you are on sites such as email, social networking, or other internet sites you should look for options that make sense.

Tips to Protect Your Secret Questions and Answers:

  1. Look first to see if you can create your own questions.  If you can create your own question, that is the best option.  Try something like:   "Where I wish I could go right now" and answer "On Vacation with my honey!".
  2. Avoid responding to quizzes online:  A lot of those funny quizzes you can answer online on Facebook or other sites might give away clues that can help guess your password or your answers to security questions
  3. Come up with your own code phrase and choose the first letter of each phrase and use numbers or symbols. Example: When answering "your favorite color" create a phrase like, "I love yellow because it reminds me of daisies" and answer with Ilybirm@d!
  4. Use completely different answers but make sure it is something you can remember!

Web Resources:

McAfee has great tips on security questions and answers as well as the latest scams floating around at

Facebook has a great safety page at:

You can keep up with the latest Facebook scams at:

Our word for the week is:  PIMP

A play on the phrase, "pimp my ride", this is geek speak for using words, cool backgrounds, or graphics to embellish your online profile.  An example would be, finding cool backgrounds for your Twitter or blog page.

Pimping your profile means boosting the look and content of your profile online by adding various information or links to your profile to make it stand out.