Reading: P. Festa, "The Root of the Problem: Bad Software," C|Net News.com (Nov. 28, 2001)
Many web sites, and other institutions, give you (or let you choose) a password or phrase to authenticate yourself. In case you forget that word or phrase, they ask you a question, usually one of "What is your mother's maiden name," what are the last four digits of your social security number," or "what is your address/zip code/phone number". If you answer correctly, you can reset your password. If you don't, the authentication fails.