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[Poster] The Password Wall — A Better Defense against Password Exposure

Mohammed H. Almeshekah, Mikhail J. Atallah & Eugene H. Spafford
15th Annual Information Security Symposium, CERIAS, Purdue, March, 2014

ABSTRACT: We present an authentication scheme that better protects users’ passwords than in currently deployed password-based schemes, without taxing the users’ memory or damaging the user-friendliness of the login process. Our scheme maintains comparability with traditional password-based authentication, without any additional storage requirements, giving service providers the ability to selectively enroll users and fall-back to traditional methods if needed. The scheme utilizes the ubiquity of smartphones, however, unlike previous proposals it does not require registration or connectivity of the used phones. In addition, no long-term secrets are stored in the user’s phone, mitigating the consequences of losing it. The scheme significantly increases the difficulty of launching a phishing attack; by automating the decisions of whether a website should be trusted and introducing additional risk at the adversary side of being detected and deceived. In addition, the scheme is resilient against Man-in-the-Browser (MitB) attacks and compromised client machines. Finally, we incorporate a user-friendly covert communication between the user and the service provider giving the user the ability to have different levels of access (instead of the traditional all-or-nothing), and the use of deception (honeyaccounts) that make it possible to dismantle a large-scale attack infrastructure before it succeeds (rather than after the painful and slow forensics that follow a successful phishing attack). As an added feature, the scheme gives service providers the ability to have full-transaction authentication.

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