Gartner Research

Nine Best Practices for Question-and-Answer Identity Verification Methods

Published: 29 May 2009

ID: G00167242

Analyst(s): Gregg Kreizman, Ant Allan


Q&A identity verification methods are widely used because of their ease of use. But the factors behind that ease of use also make these methods vulnerable to attack. Enterprises must implement Q&A methods and choose verification questions with care to avoid undermining authentication processes.

Table Of Contents
  • Overview
  • How Does a Q&A Identity Verification Method Work?
  • How Are Q&A Methods Used in Password Management?
  • What Are the Principles Behind the Best Practices?
  • Best Practices
    • Do Not Use Identifiers as Verifiers
    • Avoid Questions With Easily Discoverable Answers
    • Choose "Strong" Questions
    • Validate Answers on Registration
    • Use Fuzzy Verification
    • Use Multiple Unrelated Questions
    • Vary Which Questions Are Asked Each Time
    • Monitor for and Respond to Potential Attacks
    • Augment Q&A Methods to Improve Assurance Levels
  • Are There Special Considerations When Using Q&A Methods With Automated Telephony Systems?
  • What Approaches Are Appropriate When Users Forget the Answers to Their Questions?

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