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Editorial: Security check

Well, the royal wedding is over, the pomp and circumstance is finished for the time being, and all that’s left is the cleaning up.

And maybe you got in on the fun. Maybe you got up extra early on Saturday to watch it all, or maybe you caught the “I dos” online or in the endless media coverage.

Or maybe, just maybe, you had a little fun playing a harmless-sounding online game where you make up your own royal wedding guest name.

Here’s how it goes:

Start with “Lord” or “Lady.”

Then your first name is one of your grandparents’ names.

Your surname is the name of your first pet, and then “of” followed by the name of the street you grew up on.

You might end up with, say, Lady Edna Boots of Oxford.

Then, of course, if your guest name is funny enough, you can’t help but post it on your Facebook page. Maybe you’ll get funny replies. Maybe your friends will try it too, and message their fun guest names back to you.

All innocent fun, hey?

It’s caught on enough that members of the media were giving their royal guest names live on air in the days leading up to the wedding.

But here’s a darker side to public fun: the words you are offering up online for everyone to see are the three of the answers to three common default security questions used for online password resets. And also, they are common online security questions for online banking access after you’ve entered your card number and password.

This is not Cambridge Analytica, using Facebook back-doors to track down and use your personal information — no, this is Cambridge Non-Analytica. Or Cambridge Simplicita.

Why use a hacking back door when people are willing to unwittingly open the front door and invite you in?

It’s called datamining. And handing over those scraps of information may not mean an imminent hack of your banking account. It might end up having no effect at all.

But why put yourself in the spotlight? Why take the risk at all?

It looks like just another bit of internet fun — a break from kitten videos or snapshots of what your friends are eating.

But it is well worth keeping in mind that, especially on the internet, all things are not as simple as they seem. The world wide web is a big old fort of technology, and every single minute of every single day, there are those who are trying to strengthen the ramparts, and there are those who are doing their level best to find a way around the defences and into the treasure room.

We all have a part to play in making sure we don’t accidently make it easy by leaving the front gate open when we go tottering off to bed.

Read more editorials here.

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