Browse Definitions :
Definition

unknown unknown

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

An unknown unknown is unidentified information. An individual or organization may realize that such information exists and is relevant to them but its specifics are completely outside of their scope of awareness. The term is one of four categories of information, which also includes known knowns, unknown knowns and known unknowns.

Unknown unknowns are pertinent to many areas of information technology, including big data, text mining, project management, software design and cybersecurity. In the context of big data, for example, an unknown unknown may represent an unidentified asset. Many organizations access and store huge volumes of unstructured data without much knowledge of its potential value. However, big data analytics software may identify patterns and connections among data that yield useful information.

In project management and security, on the other hand, unknown unknowns are more often spoken of as unidentified risks. Nevertheless, there is benefit in understanding that there may be completely unpredictable events and outcomes that could have a significant effect on an organization, and reserving some contingency resources to respond to such situations.

Current discussion about unknown unknowns and its variations arose from then-United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s 2002 comment at a Defence Department briefing:

“There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don't know.”

Rumsfeld was differentiating categories of knowledge in a military context. The comment was generally considered nonsensical and public response was derisive. Since then, however, the terms have been elaborated upon and applied in business, the sciences and other areas of endeavor.

This was last updated in February 2019

Continue Reading About unknown unknown

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard)

    The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a widely accepted set of policies and procedures intended to ...

  • risk management

    Risk management is the process of identifying, assessing and controlling threats to an organization's capital and earnings.

  • compliance framework

    A compliance framework is a structured set of guidelines that details an organization's processes for maintaining accordance with...

SearchSecurity

  • DNS over HTTPS (DoH)

    DNS over HTTPS (DoH) is a relatively new protocol that encrypts domain name system traffic by passing DNS queries through a ...

  • integrated risk management (IRM)

    Integrated risk management (IRM) is an approach to risk management that uses a set of practices and processes to improve an ...

  • MITRE ATT&CK framework

    The MITRE ATT&CK (pronounced 'miter attack') framework is a free, globally accessible service that provides comprehensive and ...

SearchHealthIT

  • telemedicine (telehealth)

    Telemedicine is the remote delivery of healthcare services, such as health assessments or consultations, over the ...

  • Project Nightingale

    Project Nightingale is a controversial partnership between Google and Ascension, the second largest health system in the United ...

  • medical practice management (MPM) software

    Medical practice management (MPM) software is a collection of computerized services used by healthcare professionals and ...

SearchDisasterRecovery

SearchStorage

  • M.2 SSD

    An M.2 SSD is a solid-state drive (SSD) that conforms to a computer industry specification and is used in internally mounted ...

  • kilobyte (KB or Kbyte)

    A kilobyte (KB or Kbyte) is a unit of measurement for computer memory or data storage used by mathematics and computer science ...

  • virtual memory

    Virtual memory is a memory management capability of an operating system (OS) that uses hardware and software to allow a computer ...

Close