T/Key: Second-Factor Authentication From Secure Hash Chains

Authors: D. Kogan, N. Manohar, and D. Boneh

Time-based one-time password (TOTP) systems in use today require storing secrets on both the client and the server. As a result, an attack on the server can expose all second factors for all users in the system. We present T/Key, a time-based one-time password system that requires no secrets on the server. Our work modernizes the classic S/Key system and addresses the challenges in making such a system secure and practical. At the heart of our construction is a new lower bound analyzing the hardness of inverting hash chains composed of independent random functions, which formalizes the security of this widely used primitive. Additionally, we develop a near-optimal algorithm for quickly generating the required elements in a hash chain with little memory on the client. We report on our implementation of T/Key as an Android application. T/Key can be used as a replacement for current TOTP systems, and it remains secure in the event of a server-side compromise. The cost, as with S/Key, is that one-time passwords are longer than the standard six characters used in TOTP.

In proceedings of ACM CCS 2017, pp. 983-999.

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