What is Knowledge Based Authentication?

December 5, 2023 by Stefani Wendel

Sometimes logging into an account feels a bit like playing 20 questions. Security is vital for a positive customer experience, and engaging the right identity verification strategies is essential to proactive fraud prevention. For financial institutions and businesses, secure authentication is more important than ever. It is imperative for customer safety – which drives retention and loyalty – and your bottom line – as fraud has determinantal effects on and off the balance sheet. Information sharing has proliferated, as has the number of times consumers are prompted to provide access to sensitive information. While today’s consumer has grown accustomed to providing such information, there’s also a heightened demand for security.

According to Experian’s 2023 U.S. Identity and Fraud Report, nearly two-thirds (64%) of consumers say they’re very or somewhat concerned with online safety, listing identity theft, stolen card information and online privacy as top concerns.

Customers want to know who they are providing access to and whether that entity will have their safety in mind. From a business perspective, one way to ensure that only the right people can get in is by using (KBA). KBA takes traditional authentication methods, like passwords and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs), one step further by creating an additional layer of security through collecting private facts from each user. In this post, we’ll look at how KBA works, what its benefits are as a form of identity verification, and how it can improve customer trust.

Introducing Knowledge Based Authentication (KBA): What it is and how it works

Knowledge Based Authentication can be part of a multifactor authentication solution and is one way to stay on top of privacy and security for your customers – existing and new. KBA is a feature designed to protect online accounts by verifying the account holder’s identity. It involves answering a series of personal questions, such as mother’s maiden name or first pet’s name, that only the account holder should know. This system has become increasingly popular due to its effectiveness in preventing fraud and identity theft. With KBA, businesses and individuals can have peace of mind that their information is protected by a reliable authentication system that is difficult for unauthorized users to breach.

Benefits of implementing KBA and a multifactor authentication strategy

By implementing KBA into your business, customers experience an additional layer of security by verifying the identity of users through personalized questions. This reduces the risk of fraud and enhances customer trust and confidence. Secondly, it improves the customer experience by making the authentication process faster and user-friendly. Lastly, KBA reduces costs by automating the authentication process and reducing the need for manual intervention.

However, KBA is just one facet of an ideal strategy. Multifactor authentication provides confidence while reducing friction. Risk-based authentication tools allow organizations to assess risk to apply the appropriate level of security.

Factors to consider adding to your authentication processes include:

  • Generating unique one-time passwords (OTPs): By creating a new OTP for each transaction, you can increase the level of security.
  • Confirm device ownership: A multifactored approach applies device intelligence checks to increase confidence that the message is reaching the correct user.
  • Maintain low friction with secondary options: If the OTP fails or can’t be attempted by the user, working with a provider who allows an automatic default to another authentication service, such as a knowledge-based authentication solution, decreases end-user friction.

Identifying potential security risks associated with KBA

KBA relies on personal information that may easily be discovered via social media and other public records, which makes it vulnerable to fraud and identity theft. This highlights the need for a multilayered fraud and identity solution. The landscape of digital security is constantly changing, leveraging an arsenal of fraud and identity prevention strategies, like document verification, one-time passcode, and various identity authentication and verification measures, is critical for keeping your customers and business safe.

Commonly used technologies for enhancing KBA security

With the rising need for secure authentication, KBA systems have become increasingly popular. However, cyberthreats evolve at an alarming rate, making it imperative to stay current with the latest fraud schemes and how to enhance and supplement your security. Biometrics, like facial recognition and fingerprint scans, as a tactic is gaining traction, as evidenced by “85% of consumers report physical biometrics as the most trusted and secure authentication method they have recently encountered,” according to Experian’s 2023 U.S. Identity and Fraud Report.

Additionally, machine learning algorithms detect patterns and anomalies in user behavior and flag any potential security breaches. Multi-factor authentication is another tool that adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide multiple forms of identification before logging in. Keeping up with these and other technological advancements can help ensure your KBA system stays one step ahead of potential cyberattacks.

Interestingly, there’s a disconnect between the technologies consumers feel safe with and/or are prepared to use versus the technologies and strategies that organizations implement. According to the U.S. Identity and Fraud Report, biometrics are only currently used by 33% of businesses to detect and protect against fraud. An opportunity for business differentiation and driving customer loyalty through a better customer experience may be tapping into some of these lesser used – but sought after – technologies.

Compliance with industry standards regarding KBA

Ensuring that your system complies with industry standards regarding KBA is crucial for protecting sensitive information from unauthorized access. By implementing the following tips, you can stay ahead of the game and safeguard your organization’s data. Analyze your system’s current authentication methods and evaluate if they meet industry standards. Additionally, follow standard guidelines for data storage and encryption, limit access to only authorized personnel, and y current with regulations. Lastly, conduct frequent security audits and perform vulnerability tests to identify and address any potential threats.

Knowledge-based authentication offers a robust security solution for businesses of all sizes, and incorporating KBA as part of a multifactor authentication strategy is a winning course of action. It provides an added layer of protection for personal data, encourages user accountability, and safeguards against unauthorized access. By leveraging appropriate KBA technologies and maintaining compliance with industry standards, it is possible to create a secure system for customers that gives you peace of mind for your business and bottom line.

Experian can help you with knowledge-based authentication offerings, a multifactor authentication strategy and everything in between to enhance your existing authentication process without causing user fatigue. Increase your pass rates, confirm device ownership and add security to risky or high-value transactions, all while executing identity verification and fraud detection to protect your business from risk. The most important step is getting started.