Figuring out your "porn star name" — by combining the name of your first pet with the street you lived on while growing up — is always good for a laugh. But if you're interested in keeping your email and other accounts secure, you might want to think twice about posting yours online.
The online diversion, which recently re-emerged on Twitter under the #TwitterPornNames hashtag, as well as on several Tumblr blogging sites, could leave those who play it and post their new porn name — or "stripper name," as some sites call it — vulnerable to identity theft, security researcher Christopher Boyd says.
"Stop and think how many services still ask for your pet name and street name on things such as password reset questions," Boyd, from GFI Security Labs, wrote on a company blog.
Boyd's concern is warranted: Publicizing your street name and first pet's name puts two answers to commonly asked challenge questions in the hands of potential thieves, who could then use this data to gain access to any number of your accounts.
"Just think of how many people use the name of their beloved pet labradoodle as their password for umpteen online accounts anyway!" Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for the security firm Sophos, wrote.
Cluley said Sarah Palin, Paris Hilton and Salma Hayek all had their private email accounts hacked by attackers who guessed the answers to their password-reset challenge questions.
To stay safe online and keep your private accounts from being accessed, make sure you use a strong password at least eight characters long and including numbers, capital letters and special characters — "!#$*," for example. Don't use the same password for multiple websites, and avoid using dictionary words. And when websites prompt you to come up with answers to challenge questions, it's best to lie. So if a site asks, "What was your first car?" you can say, "Ferrari."
For more tips on how to make your password extra secure, click here.