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Pre-Boot Authentication (PBA) or Power-On Authentication (POA) serves as an extension of the BIOS or boot firmware and guarantees a secure, tamper-proof environment external to the operating system as a trusted authentication layer. The PBA prevents anything being read from the hard disk such as the operating system until the user has confirmed he/she has the correct password or other credentials.
Benefits of Pre-Boot Authentication
- Full disk encryption outside of the operating system level 
- Encryption of temporary files
- Data-at-rest protection
How Pre-Boot Authentication Works
Generic Boot Sequence
- Basic Input/Output System (BIOS)
- Master boot record (MBR) partition table
- Pre-boot authentication (PBA)
- Operating system (OS) boots
A PBA environment serves as an extension of the BIOS or boot firmware and guarantees a secure, tamper-proof environment external to the operating system as a trusted authentication layer. The PBA prevents Windows or any other operating system from loading until the user has confirmed he/she has the correct password to unlock the computer. That trusted layer eliminates the possibility that one of the millions of lines of OS code can compromise the privacy of personal or company data.
Pre-Boot Authentication Technologies
Combinations with Full Disk Encryption
Pre-Boot Authentication is generally provided by a variety of full disk encryption vendors, but can be installed separately. Some FDE solutions can function without Pre-Boot Authentication, such as hardware-based full disk encryption. However, without some form of authentication, encryption provides little protection.
The standard complement of authentication methods exist for Pre-Boot Authentication including:
- Something you know (i.e. username / password)
- Something you have (i.e. smart card or other token)
- Something you are (i.e. biometric data)
- "Sophos brings enterprise-level encryption to the Mac". Network World. August 2, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-03.
- "Pre-Boot Authentication". SECUDE. February 21, 2008. Archived from the original on 2012-03-04. Retrieved 2008-02-22.