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14th USENIX Security Symposium — Abstract

Pp. 17–32 of the Proceedings

Stronger Password Authentication Using Browser Extensions

Blake Ross, Collin Jackson, Nick Miyake, Dan Boneh, John C Mitchell, Stanford Unniversity


We describe a browser extension, PwdHash, that transparently produces a different password for each site, improving web password security and defending against password phishing and other attacks. Since the browser extension applies a cryptographic hash function to a combination of the plaintext password entered by the user, data associated with the web site, and (optionally) a private salt stored on the client machine, theft of the password received at one site will not yield a password that is useful at another site. While the scheme requires no changes on the server side, implementing this password method securely and transparently in a web browser extension turns out to be quite difficult. We describe the challenges we faced in implementing PwdHash and some techniques that may be useful to anyone facing similar security issues in a browser environment.
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