2. Setting up a security question and answer

Oxford Single Sign-On accounts have a self-service password reset facility - this lets you choose a new password if you ever forget the old one, or if you let it expire. The reset facility uses a secret security question (e.g. "nickname of my favourite teacher") and answer (e.g. "frankystein") that you set up as part of the account activation process. To set up a security question and answer, use the web page at https://webauth.ox.ac.uk/security_question. Accounts created before June 2005 might not have a security question, in which case one can be set up in this way but you do not need to change the password.

The procedure for setting up a new security question is illustrated below.

page - enter your name etc.
Figure 2. Verify who you are

Enter your family name, your date of birth in the form of '7 Aug 1980' and the barcode number given on your university card or your student number.

enter username and password or rescue code
Figure 3. Add your user name and either password or rescue code

Enter the account name (e.g. abcd1234) and either the current password or a "Rescue Code" obtained from OUCS if you have forgotten the password. The latter is a 12-letter code.

Enter a security question and its answer
Figure 4. Set a question and answer for your account

The security question should be carefully chosen. The answer should be easy for you to remember but very hard for anyone else to find out or guess. You should avoid using information that could be obtained from publicly available records or web sites such as Friends Reunited. Obscure trivia from your childhood often provides good material. You can also try and make the question a little cryptic, so long as you will understand it in a year or two's time.

Here are some examples of good security questions:

  • "My favourite teacher's nickname" (e.g. "frankystein")
  • "The registration of my dad's first car" (e.g. "ABC123G")
  • "Where my mum and dad met" (e.g. "Skegness pier")
  • "First boy/girl I ever kissed" (e.g. "Steven Blenkinsop")
  • "Sammy's passion" (e.g. "spaghetti hoops")

Some examples of poor security questions:

  • "My mother's maiden name" (easily found in online birth/marriage/death records)
  • "My favourite colour" (too few possible answers so easily guessable)
  • "My current car registration" (easy to find out)
  • "My favourite movie" (may well have changed by the time you need to use this facility)
  • "Our Anniversary" (too many different ways to enter the date)
  • "My grandmother's dog" (if the answer is very common e.g. "Rover")
Confirmation that the security question is set
Figure 5. Process completed

The confirmation screen shows that the security question is now set.

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