Authentication Factor

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Authentication Factors

Attributes or Credentials that are used in support of Authentication of a user's Identifier.

Context

Taxonomy

Applicable only in this wiki page:

  • Authentication = the establishment of a link between some real-world entity (person or machine) and a digital identity.
  • Machine = any device that can attach to an Internet address.
  • Digital Identity = a User Object or a list of attributes attributed to you in an on-line database.
  • Digital Identifier = a collection of symbols that is used to find your digital identify in a data base
  • Passwordless = any online identification that does not include something you know. (See key to a password-free future)

Problems

  1. Authenticating yourself to a device in hand
  2. Authenticating yourself to a web site over the internet
  3. Authentication yourself to a physical access device

There are attempts continually being proposed that will prevent Authentication Factors from become a loss of Privacy. This is never completely achieved, but the efforts can mitigate the loss.

Something you Know

  • This is the oldest factor for creating a digital Identity. There are two primary sources of things that you know.
  1. Some attribute that only you would know, like a mother's maiden name or your first pet.
  2. An unguessable string of symbols that is called a password or pass phrase.

Interestingly a collection of unguessable passwords can be put into a password manager on a thumb drive to become something you have.

Attacks

  • The most common attack against passwords is to steal a list of passwords (or question answers) from some site that stores them.
  • One easy attack is brute force guessing of the password, which works well if the attacker has unlisted guess. This can be mitigated if the system does not allow a large number of guesses.
  • Note that when the password is tased and the hash stored rather than the password, only limited protraction is give since the access to the hash allows unlimited brute force guesses.
  • Also if the hash secret is shared as happens on Active Directory sites, the hash along high be sufficient to access another protection zone if the user reused the password.

Something you Have

Note that this case includes something called cross-device authentication which is logically indistinguishable from this case.

  • Usually a digital artifact that is able to create a one-time access code (aka a one-tine password)

Attacks

  • Attacker takes the device away from you
  • Attacker has a device that can spoof a Relying Party into thinking it is working on your behalf.

Something you Are

References