I’m interested in software systems, software security and web security. I’m currently working on analyzing passwords of most websites and develop a schema language that can define requirements for most passwords. This language will help calculate the theoretical and real-world average strength of the password as constrained by the password requirements.
Advisor: Scott Ruoti
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1520 Middle Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-2250
Abstract: Password managers help users more effectively manage their passwords, yet the adoption of password generation is minimal. One explanation for this problem is that websites' password composition policies (PCPs) can reject generated passwords, creating a usability impediment. To address this issue, we design a PCP language that websites use to describe their PCP and that managers use to generate compliant passwords. We develop this language using an iterative process involving an extensive collection of PCPs scraped from the Web. We provide libraries for adopting our PCP language into websites and password managers and build proof-of-concept prototypes to verify the real-world feasibility of our PCP language. Using a 25-person user study, we demonstrate that our language and libraries are easy to pick up and correctly use for novice developers. Finally, we replicate and extend past research evaluating Web PCPs, showing that half of PCPs fail to require passwords that resist offline attacks when considering that users prefer certain character classes when selecting their passwords.
Abstract: There is limited information regarding how users employ password managers in the wild and why they use them in that manner. To address this knowledge gap, we conduct observational interviews with 32 password manager users. Using grounded theory, we identify four theories describing the processes and rationale behind participants' usage of password managers. We find that many users simultaneously use both a browser-based and a third-party manager, using each as a backup for the other, with this new paradigm having intriguing usability and security implications. Users also eschew generated passwords because these passwords are challenging to enter and remember when the manager is unavailable, necessitating new generators that create easy-to-enter and remember passwords. Additionally, the credential audits provided by most managers overwhelm users, limiting their utility and indicating a need for more proactive and streamlined notification systems. We also discuss mobile usage, adoption and promotion, and other related topics.
Abstract: Password managers help users more effectively manage their passwords, encouraging them to adopt stronger passwords across their many accounts. In contrast to desktop systems where password managers receive no system-level support, mobile operating systems provide autofill frameworks designed to integrate with password managers to provide secure and usable autofill for browsers and other apps installed on mobile devices. In this paper, we evaluate mobile autofill frameworks on iOS and Android, examining whether they achieve substantive benefits over the ad-hoc desktop environment or become a problematic single point of failure. Our results find that while the frameworks address several common issues, they also enforce insecure behavior and fail to provide password managers sufficient information to override the frameworks' insecure behavior, resulting in mobile managers being less secure than their desktop counterparts overall. We also demonstrate how these frameworks act as a confused deputy in manager-assisted credential phishing attacks. Our results demonstrate the need for significant improvements to mobile autofill frameworks. We conclude the paper with recommendations for the design and implementation of secure autofill frameworks.