Feeds

MS Passport security considered harmful

"Significant risk"

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

The lynchpin of Microsoft's web services - the Passport authentication service - has been found wanting in a study by two senior AT&T scientists.

The authors credit Passport with being an ambitious model, but warn that "the system carries significant risks to users that are not made adequately clear in the technical documentation available."

The report was written by Aviel Rubin, a USENIX board member and co-author of the Web Security Handbook and Dave Kormann, a fellow AT&T Research Labs staffer.

"Passport's attempt to retrofit the complex process of single sign-on to fit the limitations of existing browser technology leads to compromises that create real risks"

Microsoft doesn't take all of the heat: Rubin and Kormann say that without changes to the SSL model, for example, systems that depend upon its delegation and certification such as Passport will inevitably contain flaws.

However, Microsoft is criticized for failing to provide an authenticator, and for failing to prevent 'rogue merchants' to steal details using redirects, either by HTTP redirects or fake DNS records. These are vulnerability of merchant sites already, only compounded when a web of many merchants depend on Passport and Passport alone, which is very much Microsoft's grand vision of Hailstorm.

The researchers make some recommendations, including using rotating keys to encrypt cookies, using a challenge-response system instead of a password, and ensuring SSL is used for all transactions.

Microsoft amended the Passport Terms of Use in April, after an earlier draft gave Microsoft and its Passport affiliates license to use content how they wish, which included the right to exploit users patents.

You can read the Rubin and Kormann paper here

Related Stories

Pay-to-Play: Microsoft erects .NET tollgate
Microsoft alters Passport Terms to stem Hotmail defections
Microsoft's Passport service: No Marylanders allowed?

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Why has the web gone to hell? Market chaos and HUMAN NATURE
Tim Berners-Lee isn't happy, but we should be
Microsoft boots 1,500 dodgy apps from the Windows Store
DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! Naughty, misleading developers!
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?