Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2014/731

Secure modular password authentication for the web using channel bindings

Mark Manulis and Douglas Stebila and Franziskus Kiefer and Nick Denham

Abstract: Secure protocols for password-based user authentication are well-studied in the cryptographic literature but have failed to see wide-spread adoption on the Internet; most proposals to date require extensive modifications to the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol, making deployment challenging. Recently, a few modular designs have been proposed in which a cryptographically secure password-based mutual authentication protocol is run inside a confidential (but not necessarily authenticated) channel such as TLS; the password protocol is bound to the established channel to prevent active attacks. Such protocols are useful in practice for a variety of reasons: security no longer relies on users' ability to validate server certificates and can potentially be implemented with no modifications to the secure channel protocol library.

We provide a systematic study of such authentication protocols. Building on recent advances in modelling TLS, we give a formal definition of the intended security goal, which we call password-authenticated and confidential channel establishment (PACCE). We show generically that combining a secure channel protocol, such as TLS, with a password authentication or password authenticated key exchange protocol, where the two protocols are bound together using the transcript of the secure channel's handshake, the server's certificate, or the server's domain name, results in a secure PACCE protocol. Our prototypes based on TLS are available as a cross-platform client-side Firefox browser extension as well as an Android application and a server-side web application that can easily be installed on servers.

Category / Keywords: password authentication; Transport Layer Security; channel binding

Original Publication (with major differences): 1st International Conference on Research in Security Standardisation (SSR) 2014; International Journal of Information Security

Date: received 19 Sep 2014, last revised 13 Oct 2016

Contact author: stebilad at mcmaster ca

Available format(s): PDF | BibTeX Citation

Note: Author's version of full version appearing in International Journal of Information Security

Version: 20161013:200028 (All versions of this report)

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