Google warns that security questions aren’t that secure

Enterprise network security
Though we mainly see them online these days, security questions predate the Internet by quite a bit. Banks, for example, have commonly used questions like “what is your mother’s maiden name?” since the beginning of the 20th century. There’s a problem though: Google says that despite their widespread use, security questions aren’t actually all that secure.

The main problem with security questions is that they’re either easy to remember or hard to guess, but very rarely both, according to a research paper Google recently presented at WWW 2015.

Google has a unique advantage when it comes to studying this subject, as it has access to a huge amount of data. A team of researchers analyzed “hundreds of millions” of questions and answers that had been used for Google account recovery claims, according to a post on the Google Online Security Blog.

The researchers found that many of the most common questions could be answered correctly within ten guesses, with a success rate between 21 and 39 percent, depending on the question. With a single guess, an attacker had a nearly 20 percent chance of guessing the answer to the question “what is your favorite food?” The usual answer? Pizza.

You may have seen advice that answering security questions with “wrong” answers is a better tactic, but Google’s researchers found that this often backfired, making the answers not harder but easier to guess, as many third parties choose the same false answers.

The problem is compounded by the fact that answers that are more difficult to guess are also more difficult to remember. Research shows that using two different security questions reduced an attacker’s chance to correctly guess the answer within ten attempts to less than one percent, but that users only remembered the answers to both questions 59 percent of the time.

So what are we supposed to do? Google proposes avoiding security questions entirely, using backup codes sent via text message or other forms of two-factor authentication instead. It isn’t as easy, but it is more secure.

For more information, see the full paper, enticingly entitled Secrets, Lies, and Account Recovery: Lessons from the Use of Personal Knowledge Questions at Google, which is available for free on Google Research.

News

Browse safely and securely with Opera’s unlimited VPN on Android

Opera has added a new VPN to its Android browser, offering an easy way to keep your privacy and data locked up solid, and with no limits on usage or cost, you can keep it on all the time.
Smart Home

These best outdoor security cameras will keep porch pirates at bay

Worried about porch pirates stealing your packages, or intruders entering your home? Always be in the know about who or what is on your property by installing one of these outdoor security cameras.
Smart Home

Looking to safeguard your home? These are the best DIY home security systems

Looking for the best DIY Home security systems? These security kits will help you feel safer in no time. Check out our top pick and full list to see which kit will work best for your home.
Smart Home

Protect yourself: Here are some of the best home security systems

Looking for the best home security systems for your house? These systems offer the best mix of devices, smart features, monitoring services, and fees that you can afford (plus good customer service reports).
Computing

Still miss Windows 7? Here's how to make Windows 10 look more like it

There's no simple way of switching on a Windows 7 mode in Windows 10. Instead, you can install third-party software, manually tweak settings, and edit the registry. We provide instructions for using these tweaks and tools.
Computing

Go hands-free in Windows 10 with speech-to-text support

Looking for the dictation, speech-to-text, and voice control options in Windows 10? Here's how to set up Speech Recognition in Windows 10 and use it to go hands-free in a variety of different tasks and applications within Windows.
Deals

Looking for a Chromebook? The Google PixelBook just got a $200 price cut

Once relatively obscure, Chromebooks have come into their own in a big way in recent years. One of our favorites is the super-sleek Google Pixelbook, and it's on sale right now from Amazon for $200 off, letting you score this premium laptop…
Computing

Get the most out of your high-resolution display by tweaking its DPI scaling

Windows 10 has gotten much better than earlier versions at supporting today's high-resolution displays. If you want to get the best out of your monitor, then check out our guide on how to adjust high-DPI scaling in Windows 10.
Mobile

Got gadgets galore? Keep them charged up with the 10 best USB-C cables

We're glad to see that USB-C is quickly becoming the norm. That's why we've rounded up some of the better USB-C cables on the market, whether you're looking to charge or sync your smartphone. We've got USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A.
Computing

Nvidia’s GTX 1650 graphics card could be just a slight upgrade over the 1050 Ti

Rumors suggest Nvidia might soon launch the GTX 1650, and a leaked benchmark listing from Final Fantasy XV suggests that the new graphics card could be just a slight upgrade over last generation's GTX 1050 Ti. 
Computing

Get ready to say goodbye to some IFTTT support in Gmail by March 31

If This Then That, the popular automation service, will drop some of its support for Gmail by March 31. The decision comes as a response to security concerns and is aimed to protect user data.
Computing

Get the new Dell XPS 13 for $750 with this limited-time deal

Dell is currently running a limited time deal lasting through Thursday, March 28, where you can bring home a version of this year's new XPS 13 for around $750 with the use of a special coupon code. 
Mobile

This is the easiest way to save your iPhone data to your computer

Living in fear of losing your contacts, photos, messages, and notes on your iPhone? Fear no more -- in this guide, we'll break down exactly how to back up your iPhone to your computer using Apple's iTunes or to the cloud with iCloud.
Mobile

Here are the best iPad Pro keyboard cases to pick up with your new tablet

The iPad Pro range can double as laptops, but they do need proper keyboards to fill in effectively. Thankfully, there are loads to choose from and we rounded up the best iPad Pro keyboard cases right here.