Hidden Credential Retrieval from a Reusable Password

By Xavier Boyen.

In ACM Symposium on InformAtion, Computer & Communication Security (ASIACCS 2009), pages 228-238. ACM Press, 2009.


We revisit the venerable question of access credentials management, which concerns the techniques that we, humans with limited memory, must employ to safeguard our various access keys and tokens in a connected world. Although many existing solutions can be employed to protect a long secret using a short password, those solutions typically require certain assumptions on the distribution of the secret and/or the password, and are helpful against only a subset of the possible attackers.

After briefly reviewing a variety of approaches, we propose a user-centric comprehensive model to capture the possible threats posed by online and offline attackers, from the outside and the inside, against the security of both the plaintext and the password. We then propose a few very simple protocols, adapted from the Ford-Kaliski server-assisted password generator and the Boldyreva unique blind signature in particular, that provide the best protection against all kinds of threats, for all distributions of secrets. We also quantify the concrete security of our approach in terms of online and offline password guesses made by outsiders and insiders, in the random-oracle model.

The main contribution of this paper lies not in the technical novelty of the proposed solution, but in the identification of the problem and its model. Our results have an immediate and practical application for the real world: they show how to implement single-sign-on stateless roaming authentication for the internet, in a ad-hoc user-driven fashion that requires no change to protocols or infrastructure.


- published paper (PS) (PDF) © ACM
- author's version (PS) (PDF)
- presentation slides (HTML)


  author = {Xavier Boyen},
  title = {Hidden Credential Retrieval from a Reusable Password},
  booktitle = {ACM Symposium on Information, Computer \&\ Communication Security---ASIACCS 2009},
  pages = {228--238},
  publisher = {New-York: ACM Press},
  year = {2009},
  note = {Available at \url{http://www.cs.stanford.edu/~xb/asiaccs09/}}

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