Daily Archives: 2008-02-18

Inane security questions

I am the trustee of a small pensions scheme, which means that every few years I have to fill in a form for The Pensions Regulator. This year the form-filling is required to be done online.

In order to register for the online system I need to supply an email address and a password (“at least 8 characters long and contain at least 1 numeric or non-alphabetic character”). So far so good.

If I forget this password, I will be required to answer two security questions, which I get to choose from a little shortlist. They’ve eschewed “mother’s maiden name”, but the system designer seems to have copied them from Bebo or Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club:

  • Name of your favourite entertainer?
  • Your main childhood phone number?
  • Your favourite place to visit as a child?
  • Name of your favourite teacher?
  • Your grandfather’s occupation?
  • Your best childhood friend?
  • Name your childhood hero?

Since most pension fund trustees, the people who have to provide good answers to these questions, will be in their 50’s and 60’s, these questions are quite clearly unsuitable.

I’ve gone with the last two… each of which turn out to be different from the password, but the answers, weirdly enough, are also at least 8 characters long and contain at least one numeric or non-alphabetic character!