Verify Who You Are – Security Questions That Are Not Secure

Lets face it – everyone is concerned about their security, and not just personal/physical security but security of our identification.  Given we live in a highly connected world where even our refrigerators and thermostats can be connected to the Internet nobody wants to give out information.  For the moment lets forget the 1.3billion people (myself included) that divulges far too much information on Facebook, never mind all the other social media sites out there.  In fact if you head over to Pew Research Internet Project you will be able to gleam some other interesting data on just how many people are using social media.

With so many people on social media, sharing every detail of their lives just how secure are the security questions your financial institution asks when you set-up an account?

Part of my teams responsibilities is to activate pre-paid VISA or MasterCards for customers that have lost their cards, or whose cards have expired.  In Canada privacy legislation is pretty tough so you are really limited to what you can ask for in terms of identification and given that these cards are anonymous for the most part many callers just won’t provide any ID.  So the way around it is to ask security questions, you know – name of your pet, or city you were born in or even a seemingly difficult question name of your middle son/daughter.

Secure questions, right?  Wrong.  In a time where we share everything on social media, including what we’ve had for lunch these questions are not secure at all.

What makes for a secure question?

According to the blog there are five traits every question should have:

  1. Safe: cannot be guessed or researched
  2. Stable: does not change over time
  3. Memorable: can remember
  4. Simple: is precise, simple, consistent
  5. Many: has many possible answers

They list several good questions, some fair questions and also bad questions.  Can you guess what most of the bad questions are?  If you thought the security questions your financial institution asks were secure, think again.  The folks over at Intego actually look at questions that are commonly asked and break down exactly why or why they are not good questions.

TIP: If you are a business then you may want to look at the information at Security Intelligence  in case you do not have a security plan in place for your data (and your customers, suppliers/vendors).

So what makes a good security question?  Based on what I’ve been able to gather — there are none.

Additional resources:

If you have examples of good security questions, please do leave a comment here with your suggestions or send me a Tweet @mohamedbhimji — safe, secure and I won’t ask you for any security questions!

Shoes – Dress for Success

Regardless of what you do – guys you want to dress for success.  If you’re in the business world, work in an office you should be conscious of how you dress.  Monday – Thursdays at work should be business casual, Fridays allows you to dress down.

Shorts should never be worn at work — even if you’re in IT.

Found this video on Yahoo – enjoy!


Philips 29PFL4508/F7 29-Inch 60Hz LED HDTV (Black)

If you are looking for an inexpensive LED TV to power your PS4 or PC then you need to look at the Philips 29″ LED TV.

The TV is available from several box retail outlets, but is about 25% more than what you will pay for it on Amazon, and if you are an Amazon Prime member you also get FREE SHIPPING on this LED TV.  It may even be worthwhile at that point purchasing a 3-year ($19.55) or 2-year ($10.99) warranty for the TV.

The Philips 29″ LED TV was purchased for my PS4 because my HDTV (a monstrosity from the days of projection screens) does not have HDMI (only DVI) and no amount of fiddling or forcing the PS4 to work on it would do the trick.  I searched for something inexpensive (read cheap in price, but NOT cheap in quality) and actually found something less expensive but larger screen and tried that at first.  Ran the first LED I bought for two days and got headaches from the fuzzy screen, poor blacks and really just a lack of quality from a 39″ LED (it was lighter than the 29″ that I eventually purchased).

When I bought the LED from a retail outlet it was $228.00 + enviro fees (in Canada) + taxes, and recently the price has jumped to $248.00 so the Amazon deal on the Philips 29″ LED TV (29PFL4508/F7) is $199.00 (as of this writing on 6/29/14) is the lowest I’ve been able to find.

Unboxing the TV was a breeze, there is a stand that comes with it but if you want to mount it on the wall you will need to buy the hardware separately but as the TV would sit on the desk, didn’t have to spend another $50.00 or so.  There are three screws which attach the base to the TV, which were a bit of a pain to get in but needing only a few minutes worth of work.  After taking off a ton of packaging, finally got the base on, wiped it down with some cloths designed for electronic devices and was ready to plug it in.

There is no external brick type adapter required, it’s all in the thinish TV so all you have is a power cord that you plug into the wall or power bar.

The TV was being used for a PS4 and PC, so I hooked both items up and proceeded to turn it on.  I went through the very intuitive set-up and within 3-minutes was ready to test it out.

First we tested with PC.  Running it as a PC MONITOR was superb!  I’m used to using 19″, 22″ or 24″ wide screen panels and after using the 29″ — I don’t ever want to go back!  I’m not running a high-end video card in my PC so using HDMI out from the PC resulted in a very poor picture, so I resorted to using the standard video output from the computer into the LED.  The result – an outstanding image, which is very crisp and clear and will not give you headaches.  I would say that the image quality is about equal to the LCD panels that I use at work or on my laptop, it almost seems that Philips had the PC in mind when they developed the 29PFL4508/F7.

UPDATE: Spoke to someone I know about the HDMI situation and they suggested tinkering with the resolution.  The TV would be “forced” into the highest resolution, so playing with the settings on the PC I was able to run HDMI at a somewhat lower resolution but the display is absolutely stunning!

I have not tried to run a HD cable signal through the TV, mostly because my son doesn’t want to part with it (in case we happen to like it and decide on replacing the TV in our bedroom for this one) but I don’t see any reason why it would not display just as well with a HD cable signal.

Things I noticed right away (I’m not a videophile, TVphile, audiophile etc., because I honestly cannot tell the difference):

  • Brilliant images with no ghosting, or blurring of text or image.  Mind you the PC is only used for browsing, the (occasional) homework and playing Minecraft so I am not really testing it out.
  • Easy picture setting using the built-in Setting Assistant
  • Auto picture mode
  • SRS TruSurround — haven’t really tested this much as it’s hooked up to a PC, but sound quality when using the PS4 is more than acceptable
  • Energy Star
    • Philips rates this TV as costing about $6.00/year however I’ve hooked up a Belkin Energy Use Monitor and its telling me around $24.00 per year… but that’ splitting hairs as it’s a lot less expensive than my big monstrosity of a rear projection screen.
  • 3 (THREE) HDMI inputs, typically only the more expensive LED/LCD will provide this many HDMI inputs plus you get COMPONENT IN, HEADPHONE, USB (!!!) and PC-IN RGB

Running this on the PS4 and it works great.  Images do not blur and it is very pleasant to look at and play the games (we played Call of Duty Ghosts and Assassins Creed Black Flag).

Overall we’re very happy with the TV for what we paid for it.

Did some additional research on Philips and this brand is very popular in Europe, the name and brand has jut not caught on in North America.





If you are looking for a television/monitor that is also inexpensive to run, this is the one.  According to Philips (USA) their EnergyGuide rating for the Philips 29PFL4508 is only $6.00 per year which is based on 11 cents per kWh and 5 hours of use per day however since buying this TV I have not noticed a drastic rise in my power bill given that it’s on at minimum 5 hours per day.

Finally a few pictures of the television/monitor from the Philips USA website:


























We have had the Philips 29PFL4508 29″ LD HDTV for just over 6-months and couldn’t be happier with it, I would highly recommend buying this if you are looking for an inexpensive LED to replace aging CRTs (if you still have them) or for the kids bedroom.  The cost is will worth the quality you are getting!

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