Trust No One Else: Detecting MITM Attacks against SSL/TLS without Third-Parties

  • Italo Dacosta
  • Mustaque Ahamad
  • Patrick Traynor
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7459)


The security guarantees provided by SSL/TLS depend on the correct authentication of servers through certificates signed by a trusted authority. However, as recent incidents have demonstrated, trust in these authorities is not well placed. Increasingly, certificate authorities (by coercion or compromise) have been creating forged certificates for a range of adversaries, allowing seemingly secure communications to be intercepted via man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. A variety of solutions have been proposed, but their complexity and deployment costs have hindered their adoption. In this paper, we propose Direct Validation of Certificates (DVCert), a novel protocol that, instead of relying on third-parties for certificate validation, allows domains to directly and securely vouch for their certificates using previously established user authentication credentials. By relying on a robust cryptographic construction, this relatively simple means of enhancing server identity validation is not only efficient and comparatively easy to deploy, but it also solves other limitations of third-party solutions. Our extensive experimental analysis in both desktop and mobile platforms shows that DVCert transactions require little computation time on the server (e.g., less than 1 ms) and are unlikely to degrade server performance or user experience. In short, we provide a robust and practical mechanism to enhance server authentication and protect web applications from MITM attacks against SSL/TLS.


Shared Secret Server Authentication Secure Socket Layer Transport Layer Security Identity Provider 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Italo Dacosta
    • 1
  • Mustaque Ahamad
    • 1
  • Patrick Traynor
    • 1
  1. 1.Converging Infrastructure Security (CISEC) Laboratory, Georgia Tech Information Security Center (GTISC)Georgia Institute of TechnologyUSA

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