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Knowledge-Based Authentication (KBA)

Simple Definition for Beginners: Knowledge-Based Authentication (KBA) is a security method that verifies a person's identity by asking them questions based on personal information only they should know, such as their mother's maiden name or the name of their first pet. Common Use Example: When setting up an online account, a user may be asked KBA questions like "What was your high school mascot?" or "In which city were you born?" to confirm their identity and protect their account from unauthorized access. Technical Definition for Professionals: Knowledge-Based Authentication (KBA) is a form of authentication that relies on asking individuals questions based on personal information to verify their identity. Key aspects of KBA include: · Question Generation: o KBA systems generate questions from a predefined set of personal information, such as date of birth, social security number, previous addresses, or account-related details. o Questions are designed to be answerable only by the legitimate user and are often selected randomly or based on risk assessment factors. · Verification Process: o During authentication, users are prompted to answer KBA questions that only they should know the answers to. o Correct answers are compared against stored reference data or profile information to validate the user's identity. · Challenge Response: o KBA typically uses a challenge-response format, where users must provide accurate answers to a series of questions within a specified time frame. o Incorrect or inconsistent answers may trigger additional security checks or require alternative authentication methods. · Security and Privacy: o KBA relies on the assumption that personal information used for questions is known only to the legitimate user, reducing the risk of unauthorized access. o However, concerns about data breaches, social engineering attacks, and the availability of personal information online have raised security and privacy considerations for KBA. · Multifactor Authentication (MFA): o KBA is often used as one factor in a multifactor authentication (MFA) strategy, combining something the user knows (KBA), something they have (e.g., a token), or something they are (e.g., biometric data) for stronger authentication. While Knowledge-Based Authentication can provide an additional layer of security, organizations need to balance usability with security considerations and may complement KBA with other authentication methods for enhanced protection.

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