Last mile authentication problem: Exploiting the missing link in end-to-end secure communication

With "Trust none over the Internet" mindset, securing all communication between a client and a server with protocols such as TLS has become a common practice. However, while the communication over Internet is routinely secured, there is still an area where such security awareness is not seen: inside individual computers, where adversaries are often not expected.

This talk discusses the security of various inter-process communication (IPC) mechanisms that local processes and applications use to interact with each other. In particular, we show IPC-related vulnerabilities that allow a non-privileged process to steal passwords stored in popular password managers and even second factors from hardware tokens. With passwords being the primary way of authentication, the insecurity of this "last mile" causes the security of the rest of the communication strands to be obsolete. The vulnerabilities that we demonstrate can be exploited on multi-user computers that may have processes of multiple users running at the same time. The attacker is a non-privileged user trying to steal sensitive information from other users. Such computers can be found in enterprises with centralized access control that gives multiple users access to the same host. Computers with guest accounts and shared computers at home are similarly vulnerable.

Speakers:


  • Thanh Bui, Security Researcher, Aalto University, Finland
  • Siddharth Rao, Security Researcher, Aalto University, Finland


Thanh Bui
Thanh Bui is a doctoral candidate in the"Secure systems" group of Aalto University, Finland. His research focuses on analyzing and designing secure network protocols and distributed systems. He is a past Erasmus Mundus fellow and holds double master's degrees from Aalto University, Finland and KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden.

Siddharth Rao
Siddharth (Sid) Rao is a doctoral candidate in the"Secure systems" group of Aalto University, Finland. He specializes in the security analysis of communication protocols, and his current interest lies in pedagogical study of the 'lack of authentication' in different systems. He is a past Erasmus Mundus fellow and holds double master's degrees from Aalto University, Finland and University of Tartu, Estonia. He has been Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow at European Digital Rights (EDRi), where helped to define policies related to data protection, surveillance, copyright, and network neutrality. He has previous spoken at security conferences such as Blackhat and Troopers.


Markku Antikainen received the M.Sc. degrees in security and mobile computing from Aalto University, Espoo, Finland, and the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, in 2011. In 2017, he received a Ph.D. degree from Aalto University, Espoo, Finland. His doctoral thesis was on the security of Internet-of-things and software-defined networking. He currently works as a post-doctoral researcher at Helsinki Institute for Information Technology, Finland


Tuomas Aura received the M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from Helsinki University of Technology, Espoo, Finland, in 1996 and 2000, respectively. His doctoral thesis was on authorization and availability in distributed systems. He is a Professor of computer science and engineering with Aalto University, Espoo, Finland. Before joining Aalto University, he worked with Microsoft Research, Cambridge, U.K. He is interested in network and computer security and the security analysis of new technologies.

Detailed Presentation:

(Source: DEF CON 26)
 
 

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