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Paul Nicholson
Nashvegas TN
Digital Marketing guy for Captain D's. Hockey fan, photographer, and father of 2 awesome boys.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

pop quiz

I just tried to log in to my insurance company's website to pay our car insurance online just like i always do, and after i entered my username and password, i was prompted with a demand to select 3 security questions and type in the answers before i could proceed.

Frustrating, but ok.
Trick is, i couldn't write my own questions as i have been able to do on other sites> I had to pick from a relatively short list. As i looked through the list, i realized i didn't know the answers to most of them. As a matter of fact, i was only certain of one answer on the whole list.

Pick one:

What was the name of the city your mother was born in?
What was the last name of your first teacher?
What was the name of the company where you had your first job?
What was the name of the city you visited on your first childhood vacation?
What was the make & model of your first car?
What was the destination of your first airplane trip?
What was the last name of your first boss?
If you were in the military, what was the name of your Drill Instructor?
What is the middle name of your youngest sibling?
What was the last name of your first girlfriend/boyfriend?
The next thing that struck me was that if you were an orphan/only child, never owned a car, never had a girlfriend/boyfriend, and were never in the military, then you are going to have serious trouble with this website. Or in my case, you should have answers to most of these questions but don't because your memory of childhood is like swiss cheese.
I am pretty sure i remember where my mom was born. But if i'm right, it was one of those great cities that straddles a state line, and i don't remember which side!

I have no idea who my first teacher was. Who qualifies as "first" anyway? I remember my first grade teachers name, but not how to spell it...and i know i had teachers in kindergarten, so strictly speaking she wasn't my first.

As far as the city i visited on my first vacation... how the heck am i supposed to know? I was probably 3 months old. If you're asking for the first one i can remember... don't. Cause i know that i went on lots of vacations when i was a kid, but have absolutely no frame of reference for how old i was when i went on them, so i don't remember if Disney World came before or after the many ski trips we took - and i don't even remember where we went skiing, i just know it wasn't in the flat Texas pan-handle where we lived at the time. Not to mention: does visiting family and grandparents count as a 'vacation', cause that opens up a whole different can of worms.

And i sure as heck have no idea when the first time i rode an airplane was or where we were going or how old i was. See above regarding vacation.

I have no clue who my first boss was, because i can't even remember what my first job was for sure. I think it might have been my big-box-store job in high school, but then again i did a lot of free lance computer work back then too...and i think i'm forgetting something, so i'm really not sure.

Never in the military. Unless band camp counts. Which i don't think it does.

I know my (only) sister's middle name, but can't remember how to spell it. Sorry sis. I can tell you the story about how even my parents weren't sure how to spell it and they had a contest among their church youth group on how to spell it, but i can't remember which side won!

And as for the boyfriend/girlfriend thing. I know it was a girlfriend. I'm good on that part. Otherwise...come on...this gets really complicated. Was the little girl in first grade where we said we were boyfriend and girlfriend count? If so, i sure as heck have no idea what her name was. From there it was an amorphous group of girls that i liked...i don't think many liked me in return until some girl i met on one of my mystery vacations (visiting family, so is that a vacation?) in 5th grade, but i have no idea what her name was either. First girlfriend in middle school...i think her name might have been Amy, but all i really remember about her is that i was a jerk and dumped her for a popular girl who then dumped me a week later. I have no idea what that girl's name was.
I tried selecting the one question i was sure i had an answer to and put it down for all three times. No go. So after a while i realized i could select any random question and then just use some of my normal high-security, hard to guess passwords as the answers.

I much prefer what my bank did for its online service. It randomly asks me things from my personal data, but never had me pick out insane questions. Its just good normal stuff like what the middle 2 digits of my social are and things that are easy for me to remember, but not commonly used.

The other frustrating thing about my insurance online stuff is that i log in for one reason. To pay my bill every month. So i log in, click on bill pay, say "pay bill" - then i am immediately prompted to enter my username and password again. They say this is for extra security. I just entered it 5 seconds ago. Literally. All you're doing is giving someone who may have missed stealing my password by looking over my shoulder or sniffing packets online, another stab at it. If someone already has my password, all this does is frustrate them as much as it does me as the enter it again.

Inconvenience does not equal security, and security should not necessitate inconvenience.


Christy said...

Yikes, those are tough questions. If you could answer all of them, you probably would rock at Cranium Conga.

Never in the military. Unless band camp counts. Which i don't think it does.

Yeah, but I think a band director counts as a Drill Instructor.

I know my (only) sister's middle name, but can't remember how to spell it.

I would tell you, but that would compromise homeland security. Or at least household security.

Paul Nicholson said...

I love it. My wife knows how to spell my sister's name and i don't.

I realized too, i don't think i could answer most of these questions if they asked the more recent versions...When was the last time you rode on an airplane? um... if it wasn't last week, i'm not sure.