Instead of allowing the recovery of original passwords, forgotten passwords are often reset using online mechanisms such as password verification questions (PVQ methods) and password reset links in email. These mechanisms are generally weak, exploitable, and force users to choose new passwords. Emailing the original password exposes the password to third parties. To address these issues, and to allow forgotten passwords to be securely restored, we present a scheme called Mercury. Its primary mode employs user-level public keys and a personal mobile device (PMD) such as a smart-phone, netbook, or tablet. A user generates a key pair on her PMD; the private key remains on the PMD and the public key is shared with different sites (e.g., during account setup). For password recovery, the site sends the (public key)-encrypted password to the user's pre-registered email address, or displays the encrypted password on a webpage, e.g., as a barcode. The encrypted password is then decrypted using the PMD and revealed to the user. A prototype implementation of Mercury is available as an Android application.

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Mannan, M. (Mohammad), Barrera, D. (David), Brown, C.D. (Carson D.), Lie, D. (David), & Van Oorschot, P. (2012). Mercury: Recovering forgotten passwords using personal devices. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-27576-0_26