When you were young and your heart was an open book, you used to say live and let live. But if this ever changing world in which we live in makes you give in and cry, say live and let die.
16 February 2009
It seems like every day raises new reasons to be concerned about Facebook and the security of your personal information. Just two weeks ago, I was about to send out my reply to “25 things you may not know about me”. Fortunately, I had the good sense to balk. My list contained 25 personal facts, but certainly no deep, dark secrets. Even so, they were 25 things I wouldn’t mind sharing with good friends and family, but with long-distant acquaintances and former students? I don’t think so.
This week’s newest Facebook meme raises real security concerns. This isn’t about revealing some misguided prank of youth or the fact that someone’s favorite song in high school was “My Sharona” (not mine, mind you). This is about getting Facebook users to broadcast the answers to standard website security questions. It’s called the “Name Game” or “Ten Names” and it works like this: (the game is in maroon; my commentary is in gray)
I think we can have some fun with this one. Copy into your notes and answer. And if you’d be a real dear, please leave your security settings so that everyone can view your notes. You’ll think this is fun, but somebody else is likely to have far more fun with your answers.
1. YOUR REAL NAME: Good, start with this, so my bots can link your answers to your name without too much work.
2. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME (mother and father's middle names): Let’s just lead off with some useful information.
3. NASCAR NAME (first name of your mother's dad, father's dad): More about your parents, please.
4. STAR WARS NAME (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first name): Let’s get you off track with something innocuous.
5. DETECTIVE NAME (favorite color, favorite animal): Not commonly used, but some personal information used by some sites.
6. SOAP OPERA NAME (middle name, town where you were born): Let’s complete your name, but in a different place, so you won’t suspect anything. Oh, and let’s ask for your hometown since I know banks use that as a security question.
7. SUPERHERO NAME (2nd fav color, fav drink, add "THE" to the beginning): More to dampen any suspicion my previous boldness may have aroused.
8. FLY NAME (first 2 letters of 1st name, last 2 letters of your last name): Now you really don’t suspect anything.
9. STREET NAME (fav ice cream flavor, fav cookie): More answers to questions on some e-commerce sites.
10. ROCK STAR NAME (current/last pets name, current street name): Pet’s names and current street names are also common questions, as well as some of the most commonly used passwords, since good passwords can be so hard to remember.
11. PORN NAME (1st pet, street you grew up on): While you’re mulling your alternative life as a porn star, spill the beans on these two common security questions.
12. YOUR GANGSTA NAME (first 3 letters of real name plus "izzle"): A few things that don’t matter will help clear your head.
13. YOUR GOTH NAME (black, and the name of 1 of your pets): You’ve already given the pet’s name, so just give it again. And you’ve probably already forgotten everything you’ve just volunteered.
So, there you go. You’ve put your security information out there for everyone to see. And it was fun, too, now wasn’t it? Reminds me of that bumper sticker, “The worst day fishing is better than the best day working”. Or was it phishing?
Now, where did I put that number for Equifax?