What’s in a Name? Evaluating Statistical Attacks on Personal Knowledge Questions

Joseph Bonneau, Mike Just, Greg Matthews

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

We study the efficiency of statistical attacks on human authentication systems relying on personal knowledge questions. We adapt techniques from guessing theory to measure security against a trawling attacker attempting to compromise a large number of strangers’ accounts. We then examine a diverse corpus of real-world statistical distributions for likely answer categories such as the names of people, pets, and places and find that personal knowledge questions are significantly less secure than graphical or textual passwords. We also demonstrate that statistics can be used to increase security by proactively shaping the answer distribution to lower the prevalence of common responses.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFinancial Cryptography and Data Security
Subtitle of host publication14th International Conference, FC 2010, Tenerife, Canary Islands, January 25-28, 2010, Revised Selected Papers
EditorsRadu Sion
PublisherSpringer Berlin Heidelberg
Pages98-113
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-642-14577-3
ISBN (Print)978-3-642-14576-6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
PublisherSpringer Berlin Heidelberg
Volume6052
ISSN (Print)0302-9743

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