Self-service password reset (SSPR) is defined as any process or technology that allows users who have either forgotten their password or triggered an intruder lockout to authenticate with an alternate factor, and repair their own problem, without calling the help desk. It is a common feature in identity management software and often bundled in the same software package as a password synchronization capability.
Typically users who have forgotten their password launch a self-service application from an extension to their workstation login prompt, using their own or another user's web browser, or through a telephone call. Users establish their identity, without using their forgotten or disabled password, by answering a series of personal questions, using a hardware authentication token, responding to a notification e-mail or, less often, by providing a biometric sample such as voice recognition. Users can then either specify a new, unlocked password, or ask that a randomly generated one be provided.
Self-service password reset expedites problem resolution for users "after the fact", and thus reduces help desk call volume. It can also be used to ensure that password problems are only resolved after adequate user authentication, eliminating an important weakness of many help desks: social engineering attacks, where an intruder calls the help desk, pretends to be the intended victim user, claims to have forgotten the account password, and asks for a new password.