Advertisement

A Spark Is Enough in a Straw World: A Study of Websites Password Management in the Wild

  • Simone RaponiEmail author
  • Roberto Di Pietro
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11091)

Abstract

The widespread usage of password authentication in online websites leads to an ever-increasing concern, especially when considering the possibility for an attacker to recover the user password by leveraging the loopholes in the password recovery mechanisms. Indeed, the adoption of a poor password management system by a website makes useless even the most robust password chosen by its users.

In this paper, we first provide an analysis of currently adopted password recovery mechanisms. Later, we model an attacker with a set of different capabilities, and we show how current password recovery mechanisms can be exploited in our attacker model. Then, we provide a thorough analysis of the password management of some of the Alexa’s top 200 websites in different countries, including England, France, Germany, Spain and Italy. Of these 1,000 websites, 722 do not require authentication—and hence are excluded from our study—, while out of the remaining 278 we focused on 174—since 104 demanded information we could not produce. Of these 174, almost 25% have critical vulnerabilities, while 44% have some form of vulnerability. Finally, we point out that, by considering the entry into force of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May, 2018, most of websites are not compliant with the legislation and may incur in heavy fines. This study, other than being important on its own since it highlights some severe current vulnerabilities and proposes corresponding remedies, has the potential to have a relevant impact on the EU industrial ecosystem.

Keywords

Authentication mechanism Password recovery Security 

References

  1. 1.
    2012 linkedin breach just got a lot worse: 117 million new logins for sale. https://threatpost.com/2012-linkedin-breach-just-got-a-lot-worse-117-million-new-logins-for-sale/118173/. Accessed June 2018
  2. 2.
    6.5 million linkedin passwords reportedly leaked, linkedin is looking into it. http://goo.gl/dWMvd7. Accessed June 2018
  3. 3.
  4. 4.
  5. 5.
    Every single yahoo account was hacked - 3 billion in all. https://www.alexa.com/topsites. Accessed June 2018
  6. 6.
    Gdpr portal. https://www.eugdpr.org/. Accessed June 2018
  7. 7.
    How are alexas traffic rankings determined? http://goo.gl/jMjpeS. Accessed June 2018
  8. 8.
  9. 9.
    Man-in-the-middle attack. https://www.owasp.org/index.php/Man-in-the-middle_attack. Accessed June 2018
  10. 10.
    Protonmail. https://protonmail.com/. Accessed June 2018
  11. 11.
    Protonmail - two factor authentication (2fa). https://protonmail.com/support/knowledge-base/two-factor-authentication/. Accessed June 2018
  12. 12.
    The real life risks of re using the same passwords. https://pixelprivacy.com/resources/reusing-passwords/. Accessed June 2018
  13. 13.
    Stronger security for your google account. https://www.google.com/landing/2step/. Accessed June 2018
  14. 14.
    Using burp to brute force a login page. https://goo.gl/jfwiCJ. Accessed June 2018
  15. 15.
    Website security statistics report. https://info.whitehatsec.com/rs/whitehatsecurity/images/2015-Stats-Report.pdf. Accessed June 2018
  16. 16.
    Brainard, J., Juels, A., Rivest, R.L., Szydlo, M., Yung, M.: Fourth-factor authentication: somebody you know. In: Proceedings of the 13th ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, pp. 168–178. ACM (2006)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Dell’Amico, M., Michiardi, P., Roudier, Y.: Password strength: an empirical analysis. In: Proceedings of IEEE INFOCOM 2010, pp. 1–9. IEEE (2010)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Florencio, D., Herley, C.: A large-scale study of web password habits. In: Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on World Wide Web, pp. 657–666. ACM (2007)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Furnell, S.: An assessment of website password practices. Comput. Secur. 26(7–8), 445–451 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Furnell, S.: A comparison of website user authentication mechanisms. Comput. Fraud Secur. 2007(9), 5–9 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Garfinkel, S.L.: Email-based identification and authentication: an alternative to PKI? IEEE Secur. Privacy 99(6), 20–26 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Just, M., Aspinall, D.: Personal choice and challenge questions: a security and usability assessment. In: Proceedings of the 5th Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security, p. 8. ACM (2009)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Kamp, P.H., et al.: Linkedin password leak: salt their hide. ACM Queue 10(6), 20 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Ladakis, E., Koromilas, L., Vasiliadis, G., Polychronakis, M., Ioannidis, S.: You can type, but you can hide: a stealthy GPU-based keylogger. In: Proceedings of the 6th European Workshop on System Security (EuroSec) (2013)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Parker, D.B.: Fighting Computer Crime. Scribner, New York (1983)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Reeder, R., Schechter, S.: When the password doesn’t work: secondary authentication for websites. IEEE Secur. Privacy 9(2), 43–49 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Schechter, S., Egelman, S., Reeder, R.W.: It’s not what you know, but who you know: a social approach to last-resort authentication. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 1983–1992. ACM (2009)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Stobert, E., Biddle, R.: The password life cycle: user behaviour in managing passwords. In: Proceedings of SOUPS (2014)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Yan, J., Blackwell, A., Anderson, R., Grant, A.: Password memorability and security: empirical results. IEEE Secur. Privacy 2(5), 25–31 (2004).  https://doi.org/10.1109/MSP.2004.81CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Science and EngineeringHamad Bin Khalifa UniversityDohaQatar

Personalised recommendations