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Might I Get Pwned: A Second Generation Compromised Credential Checking Service

Bijeeta Pal, Mazharul Islam, Marina Sanusi, Nick Sullivan, Luke Valenta, Tara Whalen, Christopher A. Wood, Thomas Ristenpart, Rahul Chattejee
31th USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 22).
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Credential stuffing attacks use stolen passwords to log into victim accounts. To defend against these attacks, recently deployed compromised credential checking (C3) services provide APIs that help users and companies check whether a username, password pair is exposed. These services however only check if the exact password is leaked, and therefore do not mitigate credential tweaking attacks — attempts to compromise a user account with variants of a user’s leaked passwords. Recent work has shown credential tweaking attacks can compromise accounts quite effectively even when credential stuffing countermeasures are in place.

We initiate work on C3 services that protect users from credential tweaking attacks. The core underlying challenge is how to identify passwords that are similar to their leaked passwords while preserving honest clients’ privacy and also preventing malicious clients from extracting breach data from the service. We formalize the problem and explore ways to measure password similarity that balance efficacy, performance, and security. Based on this study, we design “Might I Get Pwned” (MIGP), a new kind of breach alerting service. Our simulations show that MIGP reduces the efficacy of state-of-the-art 1000-guess credential tweaking attacks by 94%. MIGP preserves user privacy and limits potential exposure of sensitive breach entries. We show that the protocol is fast, with response time close to existing C3 services. We worked with Cloudflare to deploy MIGP in practice.

Research Areas

Authentication, Network Security, Privacy

Related Projects

Safer Password Systems