Knowledge-Based Authentication (KBA) Guide

Knowledge-based authentication or KBA is an authentication method that relies on a series of questions to verify a person’s identity. KBA is one of the oldest authentication methods to prevent fraud. Without answering a series of questions, a user can not access the account.

KBA at its core indicates that it’s a type of authentication based on the knowledge that only a user has. The authentication method is based on the idea that only the true owner of an account would have the ideal information and will be able to access the account.

Knowledge-based authentication has two different categories:

  • Static
  • Dynamic

The distinction is based on the type of questions. The questions can range from basic personal information to complex questions. 

While KBA sounds like the most secure authentication method, it is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Today, chances are you’ll see KBA on 1 out of every 1,000 websites.

The password reset and account recovery process has completely got rid of KBA as an authentication method. Moreover, KBA has become more and more susceptible to vulnerabilities in today’s time. 

In terms of multi-factor authentication, KBA is part of the “knowledge” type of authentication. Which is “something a user knows”, alongside passwords.

Let’s break down the different types of KBAs below and the challenges associated with them:

Static KBA

Static knowledge-based authentication is one of the most used security methods and is also called “shared secrets”, or “shared secret questions”.

Most common examples include:

  • What is your parent’s name?
  • What is the name of your pet?
  • Your favorite color?
  • What is the name of the street of your childhood home?

The user chooses the static KBA questions whenever they sign up for an account. So, whenever a user wants to sign up, they have to answer the questions that they chose.

The biggest problem with KBA is that it is open to vulnerabilities. With the rise of social media, fraudsters can find answers to a lot of questions.

The biggest example of this is an incident in 2008 when the Alaska governor’s email account was hacked. The password to her Yahoo! Account was changed by fraudsters. They accessed her account with security questions such as her date of birth, zip code, and other information that is readily available on the web.

Dynamic KBA

Unlike Static KBA, dynamic KBA doesn’t require the users to define a security question when making a new account. 

This means that all the questions about the user are generated in real-time. The questions are based on the ID number and aren’t usually available in the individual’s wallet. 

This is the reason Dynamic KBA is sometimes also called “Out-of-wallet questions”.

The dynamic KBA questions are usually more specific and offer alternatives, such as:

  • Which of these addresses matches one of the houses where you lived in 2005?
  • Choose the last digits of your social security number.
  • Which one of these purchases matches the last purchase you made on your account?

The answers to these questions are based on the user’s activities. But, there’s a small chance that the information could also be available publicly. Especially with the growing number of data leakage. 

There is also a third classification which is known as advanced dynamic KBA. The primary difference is that the security questions are generated from proprietary data that are stored behind a firewall.

Alternative to Knowledge-Based Authentication

KBA identity verification has become less effective since the rise of social media. As we stated above, answers to a lot of questions can be answered by visiting a potential victim’s social media profiles.

Not just social media, data leaks, and advanced phishing attacks also make KBA more vulnerable. That is one of the reasons multi-factor authentication is so important in today’s time. Additional authentication methods have to be used to secure accounts.

Other account authentication methods have grown in a way that is making KBA obsolete.

Other Methods of Account Authentication

Today, businesses use a lot of other authentication methods apart from knowledge-based authentication.

Some of the most common authentication methods include:

  1. Physical Security Keys

One of the primary reasons to use security keys is that only the user has access to it. A physical key makes sure that the account isn’t vulnerable to data breaches/phishing attacks. 

If the user ends up losing or damaging their physical key, users can rely on secondary authentication methods to regain access to the physical key.

  1. Phone-as-a-Token

Information stored in a mobile phone can also be used to identify a user’s identity. There are a lot of Phone-as-a-Token security solutions that businesses can use. 

This method has grown exponentially over time with the rise of mobile devices. One of the reasons behind the popularity is that users don’t have to carry any additional security key or data.


What is Regulatory Compliance?

Regulatory compliance by its definition is an organization’s compliance with local and global rules and regulations. If an organization fails to comply with regulations, it can face legal troubles and huge fines. 

Some of the biggest examples of compliance laws and regulations include:

  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)
  • EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

Based on the nature of the business, every organization has to follow different rules and regulations.

Importance of Regulatory Compliance

Within the last 2 decades, regulations have become more elaborate and complicated. Almost every industry has some set of rules and regulations that businesses have to follow.

These growing regulations have led to the birth of new positions, such as:

  • Creation of corporate regulation
  • Chief and regulatory compliance officer
  • Compliance manager

The primary objective of these positions is to ensure businesses comply with all evolving regulations.

Regulatory compliance processes and strategies help organizations achieve their business goals while preventing the risk of fraud. Companies that are transparent about their compliance process tend to build more trust in the industry. 

Some of the compliance rules are specifically designed to ensure customer data protection. Poor protection of customer data can impact an organization negatively. With more and more data breaches happening every day, businesses across industries need to comply with regulatory compliance. 

Data privacy-specific regulatory compliance such as GDPR and CCPA have become more common. Proper handling of consumer data has become a huge concern across the globe and businesses are under higher scrutiny.

Challenges with Regulatory Compliance

Companies that don’t follow regulatory compliance practices are held liable legally and financially. Moreover, they have to participate in remediation programs that include on-site compliance, audit, and compliance inspections. 

Non-compliance with regulations can lead to reputational damages as well. Complying with regulations can be expensive as businesses have to spend capital to comply with laws and regulations. 

Businesses have to appease stakeholders by showing profit, this is why a lot of organizations skip out on complying with regulations. 

There can be a lot of challenges surrounding regulations, especially in highly regulated industries such as finance, and healthcare. 

Common challenges that come along with maintaining regulatory compliance include:

  • Figuring out how new regulations will influence the direction of business and existing business models.
  • Incorporating and developing a compliance culture and promoting the culture throughout the organization.
  • Deciding on and hiring compliance roles and accountability and functions required by legal, compliance, and audit departments.
  • Foreshadowing compliance trends and integrating regulatory processes to increase efficiency.

Constantly evolving consumer technologies also make it complicated for companies to comply with regulations.

The inclusion of the internet, websites, and apps in businesses creates multiple endpoints that businesses have to keep in mind. For digitized companies to remain compliant, they have to stay on top of required updates and patch weak points in the existing software.

Compliance Regulation Across Industries

Every industry has some regulations, but some industries are far more regulations than others. The financial industry, for example, is constantly under scrutiny and has several mandates designed to protect the public and investors from nefarious business practices. 

Healthcare companies are also subject to strict rules and regulations as they handle a lot of sensitive and personal patient data. Hospitals and other healthcare providers have to show regulatory agencies that they’re complying with patient privacy rules. 

HIPAA is the regulation that the healthcare industry has to follow. The regulatory compliance outlines all the data privacy and security mandates designed to secure patients’ medical information. 

In addition to healthcare providers, cloud service providers (CSPs) and other vendors of healthcare organizations also have to comply with HIPAA privacy laws. 

Each country also has its set of regulations. SOX, for example, is a U.S. legislation, but similar regulations include Germany’s Deutscher Corporate Governance Kodex (DCGK). Australia also has a similar regulation that includes Corporate Law Economic Reform Program Act 2004 (CLERP 9).

Multinational organizations have to be wary of the regulatory compliance rules of the country they operate in. For example, GDPR doesn’t just apply to companies and citizens living in the EU, but also to companies and users whose data is stored in the EU.

GDPR expanded on the initial rules of consumers by including a transparency mandate that includes businesses informing customers on how their data is used. 

Companies that comply with GDPR compliance rules are required to notify all affected parties and supervising authorities about a data breach within 72 hours. 

When it comes to CCPA, California residents are provided the right to which kind of data is being collected about them. Consumers also have the right to refuse the sale of their data.

How Companies Ensure Regulatory Compliance?

Each company has different regulations to follow. Regulatory compliance requires businesses to analyze their unique requirements and mandates specific to the industry. 

Here are some steps businesses can take to achieve regulatory compliance:

  • Identify applicable regulations: Businesses need to figure out which laws and compliance regulations apply to a company’s industry and operations.
  • Determine requirements: Identify requirements in each regulation that are relevant to your business. Come up with plans to implement these regulations.
  • Document the compliance process: Businesses should specify the compliance process with specific instructions for each individual.

Monitor changes and apply when needed: Compliance requirements are applied regularly, and businesses should monitor changes to determine if they are relevant to the company.


Know Everything about Data Risk Assessment

In today’s digital world, safeguarding sensitive data is crucial for businesses. One key aspect of data protection is conducting a thorough Data Risk Assessment (DRA). This comprehensive guide will walk you through the importance of DRA, its benefits, and a step-by-step process to conduct one efficiently.

Understanding Data Risk Assessment

Data Risk Assessment is a systematic process that entails reviewing, analyzing, and evaluating the locations where sensitive data is stored and managed. This data can include intellectual property, personally identifiable information (PII), and other critical business information.

The main objective of a DRA is to identify potential risks to sensitive data and implement appropriate measures to mitigate these risks.

Importance of Data Risk Assessment

Conducting a Data Risk Assessment is vital for several reasons:

  • Visibility: A DRA provides insight into all potential threat vectors that could lead to security or privacy violations, ensuring you know exactly what data you have and where it is stored.
  • Risk Management: Identifying and assessing the risks associated with managing PII and other sensitive data enables you to make informed decisions about data security investments and risk tolerance.
  • Compliance: A DRA helps you maintain and demonstrate compliance with legal, regulatory, and industry-standard requirements.
  • Vulnerability Analysis: By conducting a DRA, you can identify potential vulnerabilities that may increase the likelihood of data leakage or breaches.
  • Security Metrics: With a DRA, you can establish key performance indicators (KPIs) for your data security efforts, allowing you to track progress and make improvements.

Primary Steps in Data Risk Assessment

A comprehensive Data Risk Assessment typically follows a three-step process:

1. Map Data to Applications

The initial step in a DRA involves gaining full visibility into all data stored, collected, and transmitted by your organization. This process is known as creating a data footprint. Key elements to define during this step include:

Data Owners/Data Stewards

Identify individuals responsible for the collection, protection, and quality of data within a specific department or domain.

Data Types and Attributes

Identify and tag sensitive files with classifications to enhance controls.

  • Data Classification

Determine the risk level and potential impact on the organization if data is compromised.

For effective data classification, consider assigning risk levels such as high, medium, or low, and classification categories like:

  • Restricted

Data whose unauthorized disclosure, alteration, or destruction poses a high level of impact on the organization.

  • Private

Data that is only to be seen by a selected few eyes. Unauthorized disclosure of this data could lead to fraud, and significant damage to the organization and consumers. 

  • Public

Data whose unauthorized disclosure, alteration, or destruction poses a low level of impact on the organization.

Once you have covered all the responsible parties and the level of risk associated, you need to map the data to the apps that use it. This mapping should include:

  • Applications: A list of applications that query or use the data.
  • Data Environment: Geographic locations or regions where data is stored.
  • Data Flows: The path data takes between applications, databases, and processes.
  • Controls: Security measures used to protect the data in question.

2. Assess Risk

This stage involves reviewing, analyzing, and evaluating threats and vulnerabilities that could put data at risk. Risks to consider include:

  • Excess Access: Users who have more access than necessary to complete their job functions.
  • Outdated User Permissions: Users who retain access from previous roles within the organization and no longer require that level of access.
  • File Sharing: Permissions allowing access to data by anyone with a link.
  • Collaboration Tools: Sharing data through chat tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams.

Automated solutions can help streamline the risk assessment process by scanning data repositories and analyzing data storage, handling, and security processes, practices, and controls.

3. Remediate Vulnerabilities

After assessing potential risks, it is essential to mitigate these risks by addressing the identified vulnerabilities. Some remediation activities include:

  • Principle of Least Privilege: Ensure users have the least amount of access needed to complete their job functions using role-based access controls (RBAC) and attribute-based access controls (ABAC).
  • Multi-factor Authentication (MFA): Implement additional authentication controls around sensitive data, including step-up authentication when users move between applications and modules.
  • Data-centric Security Policy: Focus on securing sensitive data types with policies and controls that consider business context and data transmission across applications and storage locations.

Transitioning from a traditional security approach to a data-centric security approach can be challenging. 

However, with distributed workforces connecting to your data from the public internet, securing the transmission itself is crucial. This can be achieved using a virtual public network (VPN) or Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) to protect data in transit.


Performing a comprehensive Data Risk Assessment is crucial for any organization to safeguard sensitive data and maintain regulatory compliance.

The three-step process outlined in this guide will assist you in identifying potential risks, mapping data to applications, assessing vulnerabilities, and implementing effective remediation strategies.


Third-Party Due Diligence Proces – Everything You Need to Know

Due diligence is the primary part of building a business relationship. Be it an individual or entity, conducting due diligence helps a business analyze the amount of risk associated with someone. In compliance, the term is often related to third-party due diligence. 

Conducting due diligence allows compliance teams to make informed decisions on whether or not they should conduct business with an entity or individual. The third-party due diligence process is an essential function for organizations. It helps businesses to minimize the onboarding to risk elements. 

In this blog, we’ll go over what is third-party due diligence, the third-party due diligence checklist, and how to make a third-party due diligence process.

What is Third-Party Due Diligence?

Third-party due diligence definition is an investigation that a business conducts of an individual or a business before entering into a partnership with them. Usually, businesses have internal teams that conduct due diligence. Whenever a business looks to enter into a partnership with a new supplier/vendor/individual/business, they conduct third-party due diligence. It is undertaken to understand the level of risk associated with the entity.

The process of third-party risk assessment involves first making a list of all prospective third parties and assessing the risk level for each of them. Compliance teams collect crucial data about the vendor, their reputation, ownership data, and operations information. Businesses then do deeper research into the relevant areas to meet regulatory compliance. 

Every organization has its own third-party due diligence process. These rules change based on the region of operations, UBO information, industry, and much more. The due diligence process may be conducted by the organizations or with the help of third-party service providers.

Importance of Third-Party Due Diligence

As businesses grow, they have to become more careful of regulations, data privacy rules, and financial risks such as money laundering and terrorism financing.

With a lot of regulatory practices set in place, companies today have to uphold a higher standard. This means businesses have to invest more in third-party due diligence processes.

Unvetted third-party relationships can lead to several risks for the business. Large enterprises with multiple third-party relationships should make third-party due diligence processes their first and foremost priority.

It is essential because it helps businesses keep risk factors at bay. Every organization should have some kind of third-party due diligence checklist to verify vendors and individuals.

Third-Party Due Diligence Best Practices

As mentioned above, every business has its own third-party due diligence checklist, but there are some best practices every business should follow.

Here’s a list of third-party due diligence best practices to include in your due diligence process.

  • Make a list of all risk factors specific to your organization. 
  • Test your risk factors and the amount of risk they pose over and over again. 
  • Focus on building dynamic workflows. 
  • Database screening just won’t be enough, to combine human effort with automation. 
  • Make your third-party due diligence process based on your current risk framework. 
  • Use third-party due diligence software to enhance your current process. 
  • Find an ideal balance between centralized processes and decentralized teams. 
  • Use outsourcing to find gaps in your current due diligence process and to fix gaps n your internal knowledge. 
  • Take advantage of workflow automation tools.

How to Build a Third-Party Due Diligence Process?

Implementing a third-party due diligence process can be challenging if you don’t know where to start. Businesses spend months to come up with a due diligence process and overlook some crucial points.

Here’s how to break down the process and build a third-party due diligence checklist from scratch.

1. Make a List of All Current Third Parties

To start, make a list of all the third parties associated with your business. As a business, you have to be aware of all the current risk factors for your business.

You could ask the leaders of business operations to come up with a list of vendors, resellers, local agents, and more. Identifying all current third-party providers will help you understand the current scope of risk.

2. Know your Organizational Risk

Ensuring that your organization is risk-proof, including money laundering, trade sanctions, antitrust, or cybersecurity risks should be the priority. The goal should be to understand your own organization’s regulatory and compliance obligations.

Once you have that understanding, focus on learning how your relationships with current third parties magnify those risks.

3. Identify High-Risk Regions

Every country has a certain level of corruption risk. Countries that have high-corruption risks tend to have local agents and vendors that also contain a level of high risk.

If you’re operating in a high-risk area, you need to be wary of onboarding third-party vendors with a lot of risks. You should focus on conducting due diligence on who you onboard.

4. Have an Understanding of Current Regulations

Every organization does some level of due diligence, even if someone asks third-party vendors for their addresses. You need to have complete information about the current regulatory landscape.

5. Learn About Current Reporting Processes

Every organization is required to report shady activities to their respective regulatory bodies. To ensure your organization can take swift action, you need to be sure about current reporting processes.

6. Rely on Automation

Third-party due diligence software is the perfect solution for businesses that are just starting to build their compliance process.

Third-party due diligence software like DIRO can help businesses onboard vendors and suppliers quicker and with complete surety. DIRO allows businesses to verify third-party vendors’ proof of address, bank statements, UBO information, and more in minutes.