A Convenient Method for Securely Managing Passwords
Author(s): J. Alex Halderman, Brent Waters, Edward W. Felten

Date: 2005
Publication: International World Wide Web Conference Committee (IW3C2), WWW 2005
Page(s): 471 - 479
Publisher: ACM
Source 1: https://jhalderm.com/pub/papers/password-www05.pdf
Source 2: http://www.cs.utexas.edu/~bwaters/publications/papers/www2005.pdf
Source 3: http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/1060745.1060815 - Subscription or payment required

Computer users are asked to generate, keep secret, and recall an increasing number of passwords for uses including host accounts, email servers, e-commerce sites, and online financial services. Unfortunately, the password entropy that users can comfortably memorize seems insufficient to store unique, secure passwords for all these accounts, and it is likely to remain constant as the number of passwords (and the adversary's computational power) increases into the future. In this paper, we propose a technique that uses a strengthened cryptographic hash function to compute secure passwords for arbitrarily many accounts while requiring the user to memorize only a single short password. This mechanism functions entirely on the client; no server-side changes are needed. Unlike previous approaches, our design is both highly resistant to brute force attacks and nearly stateless, allowing users to retrieve their passwords from any location so long as they can execute our program and remember a short secret. This combination of security and convenience will, we believe, entice users to adopt our scheme. We discuss the construction of our algorithm in detail, compare its strengths and weaknesses to those of related approaches, and present Password Multiplier, an implementation in the form of an extension to the Mozilla Firefox web browser.

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