On security questions.

When did the last thing happen for the first time?

Last time I faced Security questions when I was creating my own account with Austin Energy back in the Summer. I was feeling so great, the new beginning. It’s my first US utility account since I moved to the US 2.5 years ago. Before that, it was another country and another story… I was proud and felt good until I started onboarding.

Customer service was excellent, but online onboarding and setting up my security questions, not so much. As soon as I saw this huge list of questions I had one clear feeling — RUN, RUN, RUN away from it. First of all, there are too many questions. Second of all, I freakin’ can’t change facts about myself, unless I am really forced to lie saying who is my favorite actor, color, vegetable. Don’t even go there… What is the scale of “favorite”? Is it when you would choose to eat the same thing all your life? Which color would you prefer to take out of your world and never see again? Actor — damn I don’t even remember, I might never have one. What does it mean to have a favorite actor? The actor I would place in all movies and watch it? None.

In which city I attended High School? There is no High School in Ukraine. It’s 1–11 years. You can leave school in 9th grade (grade=year). If you want to get Master’s degree you have to finish all 11years in order to apply and be accepted by University. But I haven’t been there for last 16 years so things might change.

Dad’s, brothers, sister’s middle name? None. We all have paternal names in Ukraine and Russia, rarely middle name. Almost never.

Favorite childhood friend? A few. Now you are forcing me to offend one of them by not mentioning.

What street did you live on when you were in a 3rd grade? I have to call Mom…Kidding, I grew up in the same house that was built by my great-grandfather. But I’m a rare case most people move a few times in their childhood life.

Questions about kids — inappropriate, you assume I might have them. And then I have to skip through a few more kid-related questions. I love kids. I just don’t have them.

What is the name of the place your wedding reception was held? Oh, also not relevant.

In what city does your nearest sibling live? In the nearest one. Or are you asking about age?

What nickname did you have when you were a child? And don’t you dare to call me by a nickname when I was a child. I would be fighting you for that. I’m Liliia, call me that.

Fun questions created by our team
I couldn’t keep it to myself, so I shared that with my colleagues. Needless to say that this talented and smart gang can have fun and bring everything to the next level, names are hidden under X and O.

X: “Who names their stuffed animals? I just categorized them by genus and species.”
O: “I name everything. Allthethings.”
X: “Name of college you applied to but didn’t attend?”
O: “yeah, and a lot of people don’t have middle names”
X: “I never applied to a college that didn’t accept me. I always applied to only one. And don’t get me started on maiden name.”
O: “Number of light switches in the house you grew up in.”
X: “Numeric age in months when you lost your first tooth.”
O: “VIN number of your very first car.”
X: “Title of your first essay about your grandma.”
O: “Date when you realized you’re about to turn 20yo in 15 years.”
X: “Date where you forgot your keys for the first time in your life”
O: “Expiration date on your milk package.”
X: “First time that last thing happened.”
O: “The moment you realized …”
X: “Favorite color, except blue and orange, if you have 2 number in your birth date…”
O: “Favorite whale species…”
X: “First nightmare…”
O: what color is the dress?
X: The first time you said something sarcastic.
O: when you realized sarcastic and ironic are not the same
X: What color is your favorite 5-color shirt?

Security questions choices are a problem, and it spans across the globe. It’s same in the US, EU or Ukraine. They are long irrelevant and daunting. The change should come. We all are diverse with a mix of life circumstances, preferences or none of them. What is the unique attribute that could enhance security and help people choose what they want? Maybe, as Sarah suggested — let them put in their own security question. It’s so much easier to type in three questions that will lead to three answer-words instead of processing 23 items where 90% does not apply to you or makes you think oh sh*t, I’m unlike anybody and not in a good way. So I have to hurry up to apply to University I won’t attend or ask some family to adopt me to have all those siblings with all those middle names.

Special thank you to impromptu contributors: Aniko, Magen, Aaron, Neil, Jenn, Stephanie, Eric, Toby, Sarah.

Director, User Experience Design @ EA

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