Skip to main content

Choosing Security Questions

Security questions are not supported for this flow, but might be added in a future version of Ory Kratos.

This section contains an overview of picking the right security questions. Another good resource is Choosing and Using Security Questions Cheat Sheet.

One option is to allow the user to self-construct their own questions. The problem with this though is that you end up with either painfully obvious questions:

  • What color is the sky?
  • How do you spell “password”?

Questions which can put people in an uncomfortable position when a human uses the secret question for verification (such as in a call center):

Who did I sleep with at the Christmas party?

When it comes to secret questions, people need to be saved from themselves! In other words, the site itself should define the secret question, or rather define a series of secret questions from which the user can choose. And not just choose one either; ideally, the user should define two or more secret questions at the time of account registration which can then be used as a second channel of identity verification. Having multiple questions adds a higher degree of confidence to the verification process plus gives you opportunity to add randomness (not always show the same question) plus provides a bit of redundancy should someone legitimate forget an answer.

So what makes a good secret question? There are different factors:

  • It should be concise – the question is to the point and unambiguous
  • The answer is specific – you don’t want a question which could be answered in different ways by the same person
  • The possible answers must be diverse – a question about someone’s favorite color would result in a small subset of possible answers
  • Answer discovery should be hard – if you can readily find the answer for anyone (think high-profile people) then it’s no good
  • The answer must be constant over time – asking for someone’s favorite movie may result in a different answer a year from now

Source

Here are some good examples:

  • What was the first concert you ever went to and where? (for example "Pink Floyd at Gotham City Stadium")
  • ...