With the increasing personalization of the Web, many websites allow users to create their own personal accounts. This has resulted in Web users often having many accounts on different websites, to which they need to authenticate in order to gain access. Unfortunately, there are several security problems connected to the use and re-use of passwords, the most prevalent authentication method currently in use, including eavesdropping and replay attacks.
Several alternative methods have been proposed to address these shortcomings, including the use of hardware authentication devices. However, these more secure authentication methods are often not adapted for mobile Web users who use different devices in different places and in untrusted environments, such as public Wi-Fi networks, to access their accounts.
We have designed a method for comparing, evaluating and designing authentication solutions suitable for mobile users and untrusted environments. Our method leverages the fact that mobile users often bring their own cell phones, and also takes into account different levels of security adapted for different services on the Web.
Another important trend in the authentication landscape is that an increasing number of websites use third-party authentication. This is a solution where users have an account on a single system, the identity provider, and this one account can then be used with multiple other websites. In addition to requiring fewer passwords, these services can also in some cases implement authentication with higher security than passwords can provide.
How websites select their third-party identity providers has privacy and security implications for end users. To better understand the security and privacy risks with these services, we present a data collection methodology that we have used to identify and capture third-party authentication usage on the Web. We have also characterized the third-party authentication landscape based on our collected data, outlining which types of third-parties are used by which types of sites, and how usage differs across the world. Using a combination of large-scale crawling, longitudinal manual testing, and in-depth login tests, our characterization and analysis has also allowed us to discover interesting structural properties of the landscape, differences in the cross-site relationships, and how the use of third-party authentication is changing over time.
Finally, we have also outlined what information is shared between websites in third-party authentication, dened risk classes based on shared data, and proled privacy leakage risks associated with websites and their identity providers sharing data with each other. Our ndings show how websites can strengthen the privacy of their users based on how these websites select and combine their third-parties and the data they allow to be shared.
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2016. , 64 p.