Knowledge based authentication: why it’s good to have a Babel fish

June 10, 2010 by Monica Pearson

In case you’ve never heard of it, a Babel fish is a small translator; that allows a carrier to understand anything said in any form of language.  Alta Vista popularized the name but I believe Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, should be given credit for coining the term.  So, what does a Babel fish have to do with Knowledge Based Authentication?

Knowledge Based Authentication is always about the data – I have said this before.  There is one universal truth: data doesn’t lie.  However, that doesn’t mean it is easy to understand what the data is saying.  It is a bit like a foreign language.  You may have taken classes, and you can read the language or carry on a passable conversation, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to enter into a contract – at least, not without an attorney who speaks the language, or your very own Babel fish.

Setting up the best Knowledge Based Authentication configuration for risk management of your line of business can sometimes seem like that contract in a foreign language. There are many decisions to be made and the number of questions to present and which questions to ask is often the easy part.  To truly get the most out of fraud models, it is necessary to consider where the score cuts that will be used with your Knowledge Based Authentication session will be set and what methodology will be used to invoke the Knowledge Based Authentication session: objective score performance, manual review and decision, etc.  It is also important to consider the “kind of fraud” you might be seeing.

This is where it is helpful to have your very own Babel fish – one designed specifically for fraud trends, fraud data, fraud models and Knowledge Based Authentication.  If your vendor doesn’t offer you a Babel fish, ask for one.  Yours could have one of many titles, but you will know this person when you speak with them, for their level of understanding of not only your business but, more importantly, your data and what it means.  Sometimes the Babel fish will work in Consulting, sometimes in Product Management, sometimes in Analytics – the important thing is that there are fraud-specific experts available to you.

Think about that for a minute.  Business today is a delicate balance between customer experience/relationship management and risk management.  If your vendor can’t offer you a Babel fish, tell them you have fish to fry – elsewhere.