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

SearchNetworking
  • network packet

    A network packet is a basic unit of data that's grouped together and transferred over a computer network, typically a ...

  • virtual network functions (VNFs)

    Virtual network functions (VNFs) are virtualized tasks formerly carried out by proprietary, dedicated hardware.

  • network functions virtualization (NFV)

    Network functions virtualization (NFV) is a network architecture model designed to virtualize network services that have ...

SearchSecurity
  • Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC)

    The Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) protocol is one leg of the tripod of internet ...

  • data breach

    A data breach is a cyber attack in which sensitive, confidential or otherwise protected data has been accessed or disclosed in an...

  • insider threat

    An insider threat is a category of risk posed by those who have access to an organization's physical or digital assets.

SearchCIO
  • data privacy (information privacy)

    Data privacy, also called information privacy, is an aspect of data protection that addresses the proper storage, access, ...

  • leadership skills

    Leadership skills are the strengths and abilities individuals demonstrate that help to oversee processes, guide initiatives and ...

  • data governance policy

    A data governance policy is a documented set of guidelines for ensuring that an organization's data and information assets are ...

SearchHRSoftware
SearchCustomerExperience
  • recommerce

    Recommerce is the selling of previously owned items through online marketplaces to buyers who reuse, recycle or resell them.

  • implementation

    Implementation is the execution or practice of a plan, a method or any design, idea, model, specification, standard or policy for...

  • first call resolution (FCR)

    First call resolution (FCR) is when customer service agents properly address a customer's needs the first time they call.

Close