Browse Definitions :
Definition

known unknown

A known unknown is information whose existence someone is aware of but does not possess. Known unknowns are what drives many scientific experiments, search engine and database queries, business intelligence (BI) and data analytics, among other channels of inquiry.

The researcher, web searcher or data analyst seeks information that they want and lack: They know what it is they don’t know, and they establish a method to access that information. A search engine query is often designed to find information that the user understands is available, such as how to write a will or bake bread, or what local theatres are showing a particular movie.

Known unknowns can also represent potential risks. In project management, for example, time and cost estimates are inherently uncertain because of factors that are outside of the organization’s control, such as supply chain issues. These are known, in that it is understood that particular events might occur but it is unknown, and often unknowable, whether or not they will. In security, a known unknown might be knowledge that there are current threats to network security but no information about whether they are impacting your network in particular. 

Known unknowns contrast with three other categories of information and comprehension:

A known known is solid information, in your possession and you understand its relevance to you.

An unknown known is information that is in your possession but whose value has not been identified.

An unknown unknown is unidentified information. As former United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously expressed it, “There are things we do not know we don’t know.”

This was last updated in February 2019

Continue Reading About known unknown

SearchCompliance
  • compliance risk

    Compliance risk is an organization's potential exposure to legal penalties, financial forfeiture and material loss, resulting ...

  • information governance

    Information governance is a holistic approach to managing corporate information by implementing processes, roles, controls and ...

  • enterprise document management (EDM)

    Enterprise document management (EDM) is a strategy for overseeing an organization's paper and electronic documents so they can be...

SearchSecurity
  • cipher block chaining (CBC)

    Cipher block chaining (CBC) is a mode of operation for a block cipher -- one in which a sequence of bits are encrypted as a ...

  • block cipher

    A block cipher is a method of encrypting data in blocks to produce ciphertext using a cryptographic key and algorithm.

  • hacker

    A hacker is an individual who uses computer, networking or other skills to overcome a technical problem.

SearchHealthIT
SearchDisasterRecovery
  • risk mitigation

    Risk mitigation is a strategy to prepare for and lessen the effects of threats faced by a business.

  • call tree

    A call tree is a layered hierarchical communication model that is used to notify specific individuals of an event and coordinate ...

  • Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

    Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is the replication and hosting of physical or virtual servers by a third party to provide ...

SearchStorage
  • cloud storage

    Cloud storage is a service model in which data is transmitted and stored on remote storage systems, where it is maintained, ...

  • cloud testing

    Cloud testing is the process of using the cloud computing resources of a third-party service provider to test software ...

  • storage virtualization

    Storage virtualization is the pooling of physical storage from multiple storage devices into what appears to be a single storage ...

Close