Authentication - establishing the authenticity of a person or other entity. Not to be confused with authorization - defining access rights to resources.

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61
votes
3answers
7k views

Is a rand from /dev/urandom secure for a login key?

Lets say I want to cookie for a user, would simply going to /dev/urandom, generating a 1024 bit string, checking if it already exists (and looping till I get a unique one) suffice? Or should I be ...
247
votes
18answers
36k views

How does changing your password every 90 days increase security?

Where I work I'm forced to change my password every 90 days. This security measure has been in place in many organizations for as long as I can remember. Is there a specific security vulnerability ...
24
votes
4answers
1k views

How is “something you have” typically defined for “two-factor” authentication?

A wide range of products claim to offer "two-factor authentication" (c.v. Two-factor authentication - Wikipedia). Most are deployed as "something you have" to be used in addition to a normal password ...
14
votes
2answers
646 views

Is it a bad idea for an information holder to e-mail a user their password?

A couple of websites with which I'm registered have, after a period of inactivity on my part, each sent me an e-mail to remind me that I'm still registered. In each case, that e-mail has included my ...
35
votes
6answers
7k views

How hard is it to intercept SMS (two-factor authentication)?

A lot of two-factor authentication mechanisms use SMS to deliver single-use passphrase to the user. So how secure is it? Is it hard to intercept the SMS message containing the passphrase? Do mobile ...
30
votes
5answers
4k views

How do some sites (e.g. online banks) only ask for specific characters from a password without storing it as plaintext?

I thought How can a system enforce a minimum number of changed characters... would answer my question, but it seems this is a different case. When I sign on to my online banking account, I'm prompted ...
21
votes
3answers
2k views

Is there any advantage to splitting a password?

I've been reading about the LANMAN (LM) hash and I'm curious about a particular part of the algorithm. The LM hash is computed as follows: The user’s ASCII password is converted to uppercase. ...
55
votes
7answers
21k views

Is BASIC-Auth secure if done over HTTPS?

I'm making a REST-API and it's straight forward to do BASIC auth login. Then let HTTPS secure the connection so the password is protected when the api is used. Can this be considered secure?
32
votes
5answers
4k views

How to Securely Implement a “Remember Me” Feature?

Assuming you already have a website that implements all of the standard login stuff, what is the correct and most secure way to allow users to automatically be logged in for a certain time period ...
22
votes
5answers
3k views

Could mint.com be more secure, and if so, how?

After reading a bit about mint.com on the money stack exchange, I wanted to give it a try. But frankly, it scares me a little bit. The site has a bunch of links explaining how they're so secure. I ...
24
votes
4answers
10k views

How to achieve non-repudiation?

If I have a message that I need to send to another person, how do I achieve non repudiation ? Is digitally signing the message sufficient ?
20
votes
9answers
2k views

How can I ensure that I connect to the right wireless Access Point?

Under Windows/Linux, client side. How can I ensure that I'm not connecting to a rogue AP?
16
votes
4answers
5k views

Google Account: implications of using application-specific passwords

In the wake of the recent Mat Honan story I decided to try out two-factor authentication on my Google account. But in order to keep using it with Exchange, the Android OS, Google Talk and Google ...
17
votes
3answers
2k views

Should I have a maximum password length?

I'm creating a webapp, and part of my authentication method is password length. Should I put one in place? (say, 50 characters?) Or should I just put a minimum length (Currently at 6). Are there ...
44
votes
8answers
65k views

Where can I find good dictionaries for dictionary attacks?

I’m wondering where I can find good collections of dictionaries which can be used for dictionary attacks? I've found some through Google, but I’m interested in hearing about where you get your ...
160
votes
17answers
10k views

Passwords Being Sent in Clear Text Due to Users' Mistake in Typing it in the Username Field

Upon reviewing the Logs generated by different SIEMs (Splunk, HP Logger Trial and the AlienVault platform’s SIEM) I noticed that for some reason quite a few users tend to make the mistake of typing ...
52
votes
7answers
26k views

Certificate based authentication vs Username and Password authentication

What are the advantages and drawbacks of the certificate based authentication over username and password authentication? I know some, but I would appreciate a structured and detailed answer. UPDATE ...
41
votes
4answers
9k views

Is posting from HTTP to HTTPS a bad practice?

Working on the assumption that SSL serves both to encrypt data and to provide assurance as to the identity and legitimacy of the website, should the practice of providing a logon form on a page ...
39
votes
4answers
24k views

What is the difference between an x.509 “client certificate” and a normal SSL certificate?

I am setting up a web service through which my company will talk to a number of business customers' services. We will be exchanging information using SOAP. I would like to handle authentication with ...
24
votes
2answers
5k views

I just send username and password over https. Is this ok?

When a user's logging in to my site, they send their username and password to me over https. Besides the ssl, there's no special obfuscation of the password - it lives in memory in the browser in the ...
41
votes
5answers
2k views

Do security questions subvert passwords?

Do security questions subvert hard to crack passwords? For example, if a site requires passwords with a certain scheme (length + required character sets) and has a security question, why would someone ...
15
votes
2answers
3k views

Why is it always `HASH( salt + password )` that we recommend?

Browsing over this site, many forums, online articles, there's always one specific way we're suggesting to store a password hash: function (salt, pass) { return ( StrongHash(salt + pass) ) } But ...
32
votes
3answers
1k views

Am I wrong to believe that passwords should never be recoverable (one way hash)?

I recently forgot my password for our cable provider online account, only to discover that they sent it to us via plain text in an email. I quickly sent an email to customer support asking them if ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Reference implementation of C# password hashing and verification

Does anyone have a reference implementation (ideally 3rd party certified, or government approved) way one-way hash a password for C# and or Java? Ideally,I'd like to see something that includes a ...
16
votes
4answers
708 views

Effectiveness of Security Images

Do security images such as those presented upon logging into banks provide any tangible security benefits, or are they mostly theater? Per my understanding, if somebody is phishing your users, it's ...
7
votes
2answers
697 views

Any advantage to securing WiFi with a PSK, other than to keep out unauthorized

As I understand WiFi with a PSK, such as WPA(2)-PSK or WEP, anyone on the same network can decrypt anyone elses packets because everybody has the same key. In which case, if you are not going to ...
149
votes
7answers
107k views

RSA vs. DSA for SSH authentication keys

When generating SSH authentication keys on a Unix/Linux system with ssh-keygen, you're given the choice of creating a RSA or DSA key pair (using -t type). What is the difference between RSA and DSA ...
24
votes
2answers
7k views

HMAC - Why not HMAC for password storage?

Nota bene: I'm aware that the good answer to secure password storage is either scrypt or bcrypt. This question isn't for implementation in actual software, it's for my own understanding. Let's say ...
25
votes
9answers
1k views

Why do some people really hate security via client-side?

For instance, lets look at a common login system for a website HTTPS connection is made User submits credentials via POST Server-side code hashes the password and looks if it matches the user name ...
17
votes
3answers
34k views

What is the difference between authorized_key and known_host file for SSH?

I am learning basics of SSH protocol. I am confused between the contents of the following 2 files: ~/.ssh/authorized_keys: Holds a list of authorized public keys for servers. When the client ...
71
votes
11answers
7k views

“Username and/or Password Invalid” - Why do websites show this kind of message instead of informing the user which one was wrong?

Lets say a user is logging into a typical site, entering their username and password, and they mistype one of their inputs. I have noticed that most, if not all, sites show the same message (something ...
17
votes
8answers
913 views

How to protect against brute forcing

How do you properly implement defenses against brute forcing? Is it best to store how many times someone tried to log in and block them after X attempts? And how would "someone" be identified? With ...
13
votes
9answers
698 views

Anybody have additional information on the EMC RSA SecurID compromise?

The Security Advisory Press Release here doesn't have much information, the email that alerted me to this didn't help much more, and unfortunately I heard about the two Thursday evening conference ...
14
votes
3answers
5k views

Is the Facebook login form using SSL without https in the URL?

If I go to http://facebook.com, I am not redirected to https://www.facebook.com. If it doesn't have https in the URL, can the login be secure? Usually I am redirected to an https page on other sites? ...
15
votes
1answer
6k views

Configure SSL Mutual (Two-way) Authentication

A lot of tutorials, a lot of pages, a lot of question and they differ in implementation of this issue "Configure SSL Mutual (Two-way) Authentication". I have to do it with Linux, and I don't know from ...
13
votes
5answers
1k views

How should passwords be stored if they must be recoverable?

By "encrypting" passwords you are violating CWE-257: Storing Passwords in a Recoverable Format. But this is exactly what the French government wants. They want to be able to obtain the passwords of ...
10
votes
6answers
4k views

Forgotten password or reset link, which is more secure to email?

I originally posted this as a reply here in this thread but didn't get much feedback on it, and now I'm curious as to what others think is the best approach, or if there is any difference between the ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

How will security need to be changed if P=NP?

If we suppose that it is found that P=NP, how will security measures need to be changed? I'd like to know the major security measures that are affected, and how they would need to be changed. We can ...
6
votes
3answers
310 views

How can Microsoft validate a shorter password on Microsoft accounts (MSDN)?

I recently ran across this when logging into MSDN. (I saw this screen after typing my initial credentials.) I have a 20+ digit password, however there's apparently a new requirement for Microsoft ...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

Encryption strategies for multi users access in production systems

I am pretty unknown to encryption strategies in production environments. So my concern is to find a solution how to strongly encrypt data, but make it available to multiple users with different keys. ...
8
votes
2answers
389 views

Is there a way to negotiate a secret between 2 parties with no prior knowledge?

Is there a way for 2 parties to negotiate a shared secret (for example, a session key) without having a pre-shared knowledge? SSL does this by using asymmetric encryption. Is there any other way to ...
7
votes
6answers
1k views

Prevent denial of service attacks against slow hashing functions?

I've been thinking about bcrypt recently, and what I wonder is if there's a way to deal with the inherent (D)DoS problems with slow hashing functions. Namely, if I set up bcrypt so my machine takes ...
6
votes
5answers
1k views

Preventing online voter fraud

As part of a promotional campaign, my company wants to launch a site where users (and potential users) of our product will be required to register and vote for certain choices. Depending on how ...
3
votes
6answers
876 views

How can I best manage root passwords for many servers?

Lets say I have two racks with about 40 nix servers in them. I don't want to set all of the root user passwords all the same do I? If not how do you manage and keep up with all of the passwords? Is ...
3
votes
6answers
714 views

Sharing passwords and credentials between founders and employees

What's the best way to share passwords and credentials from the business's various accounts in a secure manner? For example, email doesn't work because if someone gets into one of your employee's ...
10
votes
9answers
1k views

Why do we authenticate by prompting a user to enter both username and password? Does prompting the password only suffice?

I don't know why do we authenticate by prompting the user to enter both username and password. In my mental model, prompting password only suffices. The reason is as follows: Assume there are x ...
8
votes
3answers
670 views

Is SiteKey a valid defense against Phishing?

As described here, some banks use a SiteKey mechanism in an attempt to provide a defense against phishing. (This is a scheme where the user is shown a personalized image (each user has their own ...
54
votes
3answers
11k views

How does Google Authenticator work?

Google Authenticator is an alternative to SMS for 2Step verification, installing an app on Android where the codes will be sent. It works without any connectivity; it even works on plane mode. This ...
34
votes
4answers
9k views

What is the use of a client nonce?

After reading Part I of Ross Anderson's book, Security Engineering, and clarifying some topics on Wikipedia, I came across the idea of Client Nonce (cnonce). Ross never mentions it in his book and I'm ...
35
votes
9answers
3k views

Isn't OAuth, OpenID, Facebook Connect, and others crazy from a security standpoint?

I work with APIs all the time and I work with web developers who insist that OAuth, OpenID, etc are far superior than a home-brew method. Every site seems to be using these as well now for ease of use ...