Brute force and dictionary attacks on password-only remote login services are now widespread and ever increasing. Enabling convenient login for legitimate users while preventing such attacks is a difficult problem. Automated Turing Tests (ATTs) continue to be an effective, easy-to-deploy approach to identify automated malicious login attempts with reasonable cost of inconvenience to users. In this paper, we discuss the inadequacy of existing and proposed login protocols designed to address large-scale online dictionary attacks (e.g., from a botnet of hundreds of thousands of nodes). We propose a new Password Guessing Resistant Protocol (PGRP), derived upon revisiting prior proposals designed to restrict such attacks. While PGRP limits the total number of login attempts from unknown remote hosts to as low as a single attempt per username, legitimate users in most cases (e.g., when attempts are made from known, frequently-used machines) can make several failed login attempts before being challenged with an ATT. We analyze the performance of PGRP with two real-world data sets and find it more promising than existing proposals.

Additional Metadata
Keywords ATTs, brute force attacks, Online password guessing attacks, password dictionary
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1109/TDSC.2011.24
Journal IEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing
Citation
Alsaleh, M. (Mansour), Mannan, M. (Mohammad), & Van Oorschot, P. (2012). Revisiting defenses against large-scale online password guessing attacks. IEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing, 9(1), 128–141. doi:10.1109/TDSC.2011.24