Security analysis of a single sign-on mechanism for distributed computer networks

Guilin Wang, Jiangshan Yu, Qi Xie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Single sign-on (SSO) is a new authentication mechanism that enables a legal user with a single credential to be authenticated by multiple service providers in a distributed computer network. Recently, Chang and Lee proposed a new SSO scheme and claimed its security by providing well-organized security arguments. In this paper, however, we demonstrative that their scheme is actually insecure as it fails to meet credential privacy and soundness of authentication. Specifically, we present two impersonation attacks. The first attack allows a malicious service provider, who has successfully communicated with a legal user twice, to recover the user's credential and then to impersonate the user to access resources and services offered by other service providers. In another attack, an outsider without any credential may be able to enjoy network services freely by impersonating any legal user or a nonexistent user. We identify the flaws in their security arguments to explain why attacks are possible against their SSO scheme. Our attacks also apply to another SSO scheme proposed by Hsu and Chuang, which inspired the design of the Chang-Lee scheme. Moreover, by employing an efficient verifiable encryption of RSA signatures proposed by Ateniese, we propose an improvement for repairing the Chang-Lee scheme. We promote the formal study of the soundness of authentication as one open problem.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6289362
Pages (from-to)294-302
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Industrial Informatics
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Authentication
  • distributed computer networks
  • information security
  • security analysis
  • single sign-on (SSO)

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