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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Thursday, May 23, 2024

115 Authentication Questions?

Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, May 20, 2010
7:40 am

image My former Sun colleague Brad Wheat just alerted me about an interesting service from Acxiom, “Identity-X Authenticate”:

According to Acxiom’s brief product description:

Verification is the process of substantiating that someone is in fact who he says he is, and verifying the validity of the information he has provided as authentic or genuine. Often times this is the first step in a risk management strategy. The Acxiom Identify-X Authenticate process uses unique data generated questions to identify an individual and then verifies these individuals through our high quality database, offering greater security to the end user.

Acxiom’s identification platform utilizes demographic and geographic data in challenge questions with nearly 900 data elements for more than 300 million individuals. Identify-X Authenticate data comes from public, publicly available and non-public proprietary databases. Identify-X Authenticate data is current and regularly updated daily, weekly and monthly, depending upon the data source.

Reading further in the product fact sheet, I discovered:

Examples of some of the data generated questions that Acxiom uses include:

  • Based on your driver’s license do you wear corrective lenses?
  • What professional licenses do you hold?
  • What subdivision do you currently reside in?
  • What state does your relative Joe live in?
  • How many fireplaces did you have in your last residence?

Acxiom claims to leads the industry with a collection of more than 115 unique authentication
questions.  I didn’t realize I knew that many answers myself!

When I visited the Acxiom corporate headquarters in Arkansas about a dozen years ago, they claimed to have data on 95% of the population of the United States.  I think the coverage has grown in both depth and breadth by now.

This approach to authentication both encourages and unnerves me.  On one hand, it appears to be an effective method to reduce fraudulent access to information and systems.  On the other hand, it is more than a bit scary to realize that all this information about individuals resides in a single private database.

I just wonder … do they know what injury nearly killed me when I was four years old?  Do you? Do you care?


One Response to “115 Authentication Questions?”

    One thing I wonder about this is what is going to happen to people who “fail” questions? Perhaps I don’t know where my “relative Joe” lives because I hate his guts and never want to speak to him again. Or, maybe the information is wrong to begin with, and my truthful assertion of the number of fireplaces in my last residence is not accepted because Acxiom was given erroneous data from the housing developer. I’ve already been in a situation where I was “challeged” with background check information when trying to register on a website. Guess what? I was 100% honest and 100% rejected because they “could not verify” my information.

    Comment by Robert on September 12, 2013 at 2:19 pm

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