Paper 2020/1004

Asynchronous Remote Key Generation: An Analysis of Yubico's Proposal for W3C WebAuthn

Nick Frymann, Daniel Gardham, Franziskus Kiefer, Emil Lundberg, Mark Manulis, and Dain Nilsson


WebAuthn, forming part of FIDO2, is a W3C standard for strong authentication, which employs digital signatures to authenticate web users whilst preserving their privacy. Owned by users, WebAuthn authenticators generate attested and unlinkable public-key credentials for each web service to authenticate users. Since the loss of authenticators prevents users from accessing web services, usable recovery solutions preserving the original WebAuthn design choices and security objectives are urgently needed. We examine Yubico's recent proposal for recovering from the loss of a WebAuthn authenticator by using a secondary backup authenticator. We analyse the cryptographic core of their proposal by modelling a new primitive, called Asynchronous Remote Key Generation (ARKG), which allows some primary authenticator to generate unlinkable public keys for which the backup authenticator may later recover corresponding private keys. Both processes occur asynchronously without the need for authenticators to export or share secrets, adhering to WebAuthn's attestation requirements. We prove that Yubico's proposal achieves our ARKG security properties under the discrete logarithm and PRF-ODH assumptions in the random oracle model. To prove that recovered private keys can be used securely by other cryptographic schemes, such as digital signatures or encryption schemes, we model compositional security of ARKG using composable games by Brzuska et al. (ACM CCS 2011), extended to the case of arbitrary public-key protocols. As well as being more general, our results show that private keys generated by ARKG may be used securely to produce unforgeable signatures for challenge-response protocols, as used in WebAuthn. We conclude our analysis by discussing concrete instantiations behind Yubico's ARKG protocol, its integration with the WebAuthn standard, performance, and usability aspects.

Available format(s)
Public-key cryptography
Publication info
Published elsewhere. ACM CCS 2020
WebAuthnweb authenticationkey generationcomposability
Contact author(s)
n frymann @ surrey ac uk
m manulis @ surrey ac uk
2020-08-19: received
Short URL
Creative Commons Attribution


      author = {Nick Frymann and Daniel Gardham and Franziskus Kiefer and Emil Lundberg and Mark Manulis and Dain Nilsson},
      title = {Asynchronous Remote Key Generation: An Analysis of Yubico's Proposal for W3C WebAuthn},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2020/1004},
      year = {2020},
      doi = {10.1145/3372297.3417292},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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