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New Standard For Website Authentication Proposed: SQRL (Secure QR Login)

Unknown Lamer posted 1 year,5 days | from the but-the-nsa-owns-your-phone dept.

Security 234

fsagx writes "Steve Gibson has proposed a new standard method for website authentication. The SQRL system (pronounced 'squirrel') eliminates problems inherent in traditional login techniques. The website's login presents a QR code containing the URL of its authentication service, plus a nonce. The user's smartphone signs the login URL using a private key derived from its master secret and the URL's domain name. The Smartphone sends the matching public key to identify the user, and the signature to authenticate it. It may be used alongside of traditional username/password to ease adoption."

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Steve Gibson is a... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158293)

I invite everyone to let Google autocomplete that sentence. It's been well-known for a good while that absolutely no-one should pay any attention to him.

Re:Steve Gibson is a... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158401)

Re: Steve Gibson is a... (5, Insightful)

weedenbc (719416) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158843)

Steve has a lot of hate coming from the traditional hacker community, some of it for good reasons. He got started in all this trying to defend himself from some attacks, and definitely made some noob mistakes. In particular, he made the mistake of lumping in penetration testers (white hats) with criminal hackers (black hats). That generated a lot of hate from the pen tester community and many labled him a fraud and never looked back. His biggest offense seems to be that he is not of, and does not participate in, the traditional hacker/pen tester community. I think it is very telling that none of his detractors are actually point out problems in his proposal for SQRL. They are relying entirely on "we all know Steve Gibson is a fraud" arguments.

Re: Steve Gibson is a... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45159019)

I think it is very telling that none of his detractors are actually point out problems in his proposal for SQRL. They are relying entirely on "we all know Steve Gibson is a fraud" arguments.

Huh, who's doing that? This is the only thread in the discussion so far that his reputation is even discussed. Instead I see countless detractors who attack the idea without acknowledging Gibson at all. Could you point out instances of this supposed prejudgment?

Re: Steve Gibson is a... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45159195)

For real ? Look at the title of your post

Re: Steve Gibson is a... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45159321)

For real ? Look at the title of your post

For real, look at where I did acknowledge it's discussed in this single thread. That's still a long shot from

none of his detractors are actually point out problems[.] They are relying entirely on "we all know Steve Gibson is a fraud" arguments.

Plenty of threads, that is all but this one, do point out problems and do not mention Gibson being a fraud at all. And I'm only rephrasing this as I've stated it before. What do you not understand about it?

Re: Steve Gibson is a... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45159441)

I think it is very telling that none of his detractors are actually point out problems in his proposal for SQRL.

This does not sound very well thought out. Just off the top of my head.

1. It requires a cell phone.
2. It uses a QR Code, an item notorious for redirection to malware sites.
3. It ties your cell phone number to your browser session so no logins except under your real name.
4. If the cops, border agents, or other criminals suck your cell phone data out they have access to all your secure accounts.

Re:Steve Gibson is a... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45159235)

This is less bile and more matter-of-fact: http://attrition.org/errata/charlatan/steve_gibson/ [attrition.org]

The man just does not have the mental fortitude to work in his chosen field. He gets by because his actual talent is in marketing.

Re:Steve Gibson is a... (4, Informative)

moteyalpha (1228680) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158487)

I invite everyone to let Google autocomplete that sentence. It's been well-known for a good while that absolutely no-one should pay any attention to him.

Just for giggles I did test auto complete on that and it gave:
1. steve gibson is a fake
2. steve gibson is a moron
3. steve gibson is a idiot
Could that be considered the -opinion- of the Google algorithm?
My opinion about TFS involves squirrels too. But mainly their primary food source ( pronounced 'nuts').

Re:Steve Gibson is a... (0)

cdrudge (68377) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158653)

1. steve gibson is a fake
2. steve gibson is a moron
3. steve gibson is a idiot

Why can't be be 1, 2, AND 3?

Re:Steve Gibson is a... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158813)

Those are only the first three. The missing items up to #10:

4. Steve Gibson is a fake, a moron, and an idiot
5. Steve Gibson is all of the above
6. Steve Gibson is all of the above and the below
7. Steve Gibson is all of the below
8. Steve Gibson is desperate for any kind of publicity
9. Steve Gibson is kinda cute actually
10. Steve Gibson is unaware of the location of his towel

Re:Steve Gibson is a... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45159227)

10. Steve Gibson is unaware of the location of his towel

Clearly not a man to be reckoned with.

Re:Steve Gibson is a... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158761)

Steve Gibson is a "knob-gobbler"

That's the sesame street word of the day kids!

Re:Steve Gibson is a... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45159169)

Way to invalidate the concept. Ad hominem attack. Clever.

Challenge/response tunneled inside of SSL? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158295)

So, basically... challenge/response tunneled inside of SSL, but with a QR code? Quick, get the patent office on the phone.

Re:Challenge/response tunneled inside of SSL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158409)

So, basically... challenge/response tunneled inside of SSL, but with a QR code? Quick, get the patent office on the phone.

Wait! Wait! Be sure to add "on a cell phone" to the patent application!

Re:Challenge/response tunneled inside of SSL? (4, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158497)

I recently checked out the two podcasts where he went into extensive detail on SQRL and he made it pretty clear that he isn't looking to make money on this concept if it were to take off and that he "doesn't really even have time to do much with it". He presented his idea, documented it, opened up some discussion about it and a forum for people to discuss it in and left it at that. Say what you may about him, but I don't get any sort of "erhmagerd, I'm gonna get rich off this" going on here. I'm sure if clear flaws are demonstrated to him, he'd readily discuss them and admit them when they were uncovered.

Google already dunnit (2)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158931)

Even if Mr. Gibson did seek a patent, Google has prior art [zdnet.com] .

Re:Challenge/response tunneled inside of SSL? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45159181)

Actually its already patented....

LAWSUIT in 3, 2, 1.....

Gibson is NSA... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158307)

No doubt...that's connecting online identities to tracable mobile phones that can be monitored by satellite in real-time, along with information requests from providers.

Don't buy it.

Re:Gibson is NSA... (4, Informative)

Seumas (6865) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158525)

Wasn't Gibson one of the first people we heard a reasonable explanation of the NSA tapping from? When we were all blaming Facebook and Google and Facebook and Google were denying direct feeds to the NSA, he asserted that what was probably happening was tapping of the trunk just externally to the private points of these entities, such that they may never have even known it was going on. Then, it turns out, that is pretty much what was happening in many of the cases.

I don't know a whole lot about the guy, but he sure seems to have an awful lot of anti NSA and pro-privacy stances, as far as I can tell.

Smartphone required to browse? (3, Insightful)

SilentConsole (985427) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158321)

I don't think it will be very popular to force user to pull out a smart-phone ( or even HAVE a smart phone ) to use a website.

Re:Smartphone required to browse? (4, Insightful)

w_dragon (1802458) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158347)

Or just create a browser plugin that will read a QR and open a new tab to the link. No smartphone required. Of course, that kind of highlights why it's a dumb idea anyway.

Re:Smartphone required to browse? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158475)

But their website says:

It eliminates every problem inherent in traditional login techniques.

So I guess they're just swapping new problems for the traditional ones ;-)

Re:Smartphone required to browse? (2)

SilentConsole (985427) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158359)

Reading more fully - there is a suggestion for providing a clickable link as well from a desktop - so, tying identity uniquely to a device is actually the intent here, still not a great user experience.

Re:Smartphone required to browse? (1)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158673)

so, tying identity uniquely to a device is actually the intent here

Banks and credit unions already do this sort of two-factor auth: "We don't recognize your computer. Click here and we'll send you an e-mail or text message or call you with a code to access your account on this device. You'll only have to do this once for each device."

Re:Smartphone required to browse? (1)

xombo (628858) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158735)

*every time you clear your cookies

FTFY

Re:Smartphone required to browse? (1)

SleepyHappyDoc (813919) | 1 year,5 days | (#45159161)

People still do that? I don't think I've cleared my cookies in five years...

Re:Smartphone required to browse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45159175)

Yeah, but the browsers always ask "never for this site?" in terms of remembering passwords.

Re:Smartphone required to browse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158377)

In the article, he mentions how to make it work for desktop or tablet. The QR code becomes a link with sqrl:// that a desktop/tablet app can work with.

Re:Smartphone required to browse? (1, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158433)

Pull out your cellphone. Click. Now your IP on the cell and phone are tied to your browser session and it's IP address. If geolocating wasn't easy enough, they have you at a doubley coordinated vector.

This one bites-- why not a Yubikey or another more easily used and less invasive secondary auth? It's not so much the niceness of a secondary auth, rather, it ties too much data for somebody's hadoop mosh pit.

No, 2 smartphones required to browse. (2)

Chemisor (97276) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158667)

Actually, two smartphones required to browse. One to navigate to the website, the other to take the picture of the QR code on the first one's screen. Oh, and you'll probably need a third hand to type in the password that is computed on the second phone into the password box displayed on the first phone.

Re:Smartphone required to browse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158725)

How else will they track your exact location when you go to a website?

Re:Smartphone required to browse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158955)

Just add a camera to Google Glass.

Re:Smartphone required to browse? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45159065)

Moreover, any site that employs this will be forced to be hostile to mobile browsers (you'd need a mirror or full mobile browser integration for the phone to see its own screen.)

Given the rage over mobile, I'd say any technology that makes it difficult to access a service using a mobile device is dead in the water.

this idea is not going to go anywhere. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158329)

seriously, just face it, this idea is not going to be adopted.

Re:this idea is not going to go anywhere. (2)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158345)

Eh, our whole country adopted nonce [theguardian.com] for nearly four decades.

Scanning random QR codes (2)

rminsk (831757) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158333)

So you go to a website and it displays a QR code it wants you to scan. Who knows where that QR code could redirect too.

Also, I go to a website on my smartphone. How do I scan the QR code? With my other smartphone?

Re:Scanning random QR codes (3, Funny)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158397)

Are there people who still carry only one 'phone around? And yet people rely on them so much.....

Re:Scanning random QR codes (2)

Seumas (6865) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158419)

No. That's where the QR code also being a clickable link comes into play.

This SQRL thing is documented on his site and he has a forum open to critique it and expose flaws in it, so this stuff is all easily accessible to anyone who wants to take a half hour to read it.

Re:Scanning random QR codes (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158483)

Most all the criticisms that have been expressed here have already been debated.

Re:Scanning random QR codes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158589)

If this SQRL is clickable then why make it a QR code at all? What is the advantage of a QR code if the damn thing is clickable anyway?

He could have called it "SClickL" and avoided everyone making fun of the name. SQRL? That's just nuts.

Kiosks (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45159087)

Don't expect kiosks to have the software/browser extension installed to understand the sqrl: protocol, whereas your phone can still snap a picture of it and as far as the kiosk knows you were just magically signed in without leaving the slightest trace.

Re:Scanning random QR codes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45159121)

The QR code is for two reasons, somewhat tied to the origin of the idea.
1) you can use your phone (or trusted device) to authenticate on a different device. Avoids all form of keylogging or recordings just as a one-time-password approach would.
2) currently phones have better security for the average user in terms of requiring signed software and sandboxing than the desktop OSs. They are less likely to be compromised by malware.

The complaint about "random QR codes" is silly in that any *good* software always shows the url before bouncing the user to it. This is part of the client specification of behavior for this. You just have to look the samsung factory reset a while back to see how having apps auto-open urls via QR or NFC is fundamentally flawed and should be abandoned by every scanner implementation.

Re:Scanning random QR codes (1)

CCarrot (1562079) | 1 year,5 days | (#45159045)

So you go to a website and it displays a QR code it wants you to scan. Who knows where that QR code could redirect too.

Also, I go to a website on my smartphone. How do I scan the QR code? With my other smartphone?

Easy! You snap a photo using your webcam so your computer can authenticate you!

</sarcasm>

What problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158357)

Which problem is this supposed to be solving? All my traditional logins work just fine. If they didn't then I wouldn't be using them.

Re:What problem? (1)

Seumas (6865) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158583)

My understanding is that, among other things, the intention is to address man-in-the-middle compromises, but I'm not certain how that is actually guaranteed here. (Then again, I am not even remotely a security expert).

Re:What problem? (2)

SScorpio (595836) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158741)

One of the main things it's supposed to address is to allow secure login from a public computer. A computer could have a software or hardware key logger, but since the authentication is handled by the phone you control it doesn't matter.

It also has a unique ID that's based on a hash of the site you are authenticating with, so accounts at different sites can't be tied together unless you give the site something like an alias or your email address.

This does raise the problem in that it makes your phone the keys to the kingdom, but having something like this for throw away accounts for posting on a forum wouldn't be bad. It would be like OpenID, I wouldn't use it for something like my banking account which I wouldn't access from a public computer anyways. But it addresses the issue that people generally use one email address and one password to access every site they go to.

Re:What problem? (4, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | 1 year,5 days | (#45159163)

One of the main things it's supposed to address is to allow secure login from a public computer.

Unfortunately, that entire concept is flawed for at least two blindingly obvious reasons:

  • This does not solve the man-in-the-middle attack where untrusted endpoint devices are concerned, because that problem is a fundamentally unsolvable problem. If you cannot trust both endpoints, no secure connection is possible. This is a fundamental tenet of computer security.

    In particular, if you can't trust the endpoint, you can't trust anything that the endpoint presents to you. Unless this scheme literally requires you to point your phone at the screen and authenticate every single action, there's nothing stopping someone from tweaking the content on its way to the untrusted screen so that the logout button doesn't actually log you out, but instead merely shows a fake logout screen. Then, the person who owns that untrusted computer has access to your account.

    And even if you try to patch around that with a QR code that deauthorizes the computer, there's nothing stopping someone from automatically transferring money to a bank in the Cayman Islands right before it requests that logout code, or whatever. So even in the best case, this does not really add any significant amount of trust to the untrusted device.

  • If your phone can connect to the Internet, why aren't you just using your phone for browsing, and using the computer merely as a larger display and keyboard? By doing this, the login credentials are stored in your phone's keychain, so you aren't typing a password, making that issue moot, and the control disappears when you unplug from the keyboard and screen, making pretty much all other issues almost entirely moot unless you're actually typing or viewing something sensitive.

Re:What problem? (1)

corsec67 (627446) | 1 year,5 days | (#45159213)

More than that, this is also vulerable to a MitM relay kind of attack, similar to a phishing page that looks like the original login page. This is made worse in that a smartphone can't automatically verify that the computer is on the correct domain before authorizing the page displaying the authentication page.

This results in a similar situation to your 'untrusted terminal' scenario, where the bad guys have a valid login to your account and can do what they want with that session.

Possibly even let you also use that session so that you don't get suspicious.

That's how I say SQL (1)

Art3x (973401) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158367)

Programmers argue whether the right way to say SQL is S Q L or sequel. A business analyst told me her way, and I thought it fit best: squirrel.

Re:That's how I say SQL (2)

Seumas (6865) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158459)

I've honestly never heard anyone debate this. It's called My ESS CUE ELL and PostgrESS CUE ELL, because SQL is pronounced as each letter. Yes, people sometimes mispronounced it, but that is due to ignorance. The same way we all used to know people just coming to the web for the first time who thought that URLs were pronounced like they were part of the monarchy.

Re:That's how I say SQL (5, Funny)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158539)

"MySQL" is pronounced "Why aren't you using PostgreSQL?"

And "noSQL" is pronounced "no".

Re:That's how I say SQL (1)

Forbo (3035827) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158607)

So is it "gee-eye-eff", "giff" or "jiff"?

Re:That's how I say SQL (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158699)

"PNG", but pronounced "pong" because it comes with an air of smug.

Re:That's how I say SQL (1)

malacandrian (2145016) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158681)

Yes, people sometimes mispronounced it, but that is due to ignorance.

Actually, the technology that became SQL was originally called Sequel, but that was trademarked so they changed to SQL. So the correct answer is /s kju l/, but that's only for legal reasons, and mispronunciations are as likely to be due to knowing more about the technology and its history as less.

Re: That's how I say SQL (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158727)

Have you ever gone ESS SEE YOU BEE AY diving?

Sequel is a perfectly cromulent pronunciation.

Re: That's how I say SQL (1)

BluBrick (1924) | 1 year,5 days | (#45159331)

The vowels in "SCUBA" go a long way to making it acceptable as an individual word. There are no vowels in "SQL". Unlike SQL, SCUBA is not commonly encountered in the areas of Information Technology and Computer Science, in which the use of acronyms is commonplace and well accepted. (Cue the story* of the IBM engineer who had to ask his client what was meant by F.A.N. in a maintenance request. Upon being told that fan was a word, not an acronym, the engineer informed the client that the correct term was in fact A.M.D., meaning Air Movement Device.)

*probably urban legend

Re:That's how I say SQL (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158965)

I worked at Microsoft for 13 years and pretty much everyone there pronounced it sequel, and not ESS CUE ELL. Including people working on the SQL team, so I'm not sure that it's necessarily ignorance.

Re:That's how I say SQL (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45159325)

I worked at Microsoft for 13 years and pretty much everyone there pronounced it sequel, and not ESS CUE ELL. Including people working on the SQL team, so I'm not sure that it's necessarily ignorance.

Well, then again...

MS sequel, My S-Q-L , officially S-Q-L, Chamberlai (2)

raymorris (2726007) | 1 year,5 days | (#45159543)

The MySQL team says S-Q-L, and I believe their web page says that's how their name is pronounced. The official SQL standard says it's s-q-l.

On the other hand, it seems to me that Windows admins tend to say sequel. The primary author of the language, Chamberlain, says sequel.

Putting all that together, neither is really right or wrong. When talking about Microsoft's rdms to Microsoft-based listeners, sequel will elicit the fewest snickers. In the FOSS community, say My s-q-l. S-Q-L is the standard data manipulation language, sequel is some Microsoft crap, the OSS folks will say.

Re:That's how I say SQL (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158481)

My girlfriend calls it Squall.

Re:That's how I say SQL (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158781)

My girlfriend calls it Squall.

You're saying that's what she said?

Re:That's how I say SQL (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45159405)

My girlfriend calls it Squall.

Excuse me, your what calls it Squall?

Are you sure you're in the right place?

Re:That's how I say SQL (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158549)

I pronounce it Esquire-ell.

Re:That's how I say SQL (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158567)

There's also "squeal".

Re:That's how I say SQL (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158577)

The correct way is "squeal!". At least if you're using MS's version.

I trust every website with my phone number (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158383)

I trust every website with my phone number. Why? Because I can't log in otherwise!

There are many sites which I appreciate have authentication but that I do not even begin to trust. They get a crappy password. I do not have burners phones for every website.

Re:I trust every website with my phone number (1)

HiThere (15173) | 1 year,5 days | (#45159031)

Try 555-1212.

OTOH, I rarely give my phone #, even if they ask. If they won't take a fictitious one, and don't allow you to skip it, then I just don't go there.

QR code (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158389)

While QR codes themselves are clear, my understanding was that the term "QR code" is trademarked in several countries.

I love standards! (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158439)

There are so many to choose from.

In this case, the proposer seems to be under the impression that a desktop, laptop, or tablet is more likely to be compromised than a smartphone.

Re:I love standards! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158837)

No, the authentication app can run on any device. If the user wants to install the SQRL application on their desktop, laptop, or tablet that they browse on, they are free to do so. The QR code part is just to make it easy to have a single device (your smartphone) that runs a single instance of the SQRL authentication app (and therefore you don't have to worry about sync'ing your private key among all of the devices you browse the web on).

Occam's razor (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158441)

This goes way above and beyond that..

Doubt anyone will ever give a shit about it because of all the special stuff that needs to be in place just to get access.

I'll stick with username/password.

SSL client certificate authentication (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158447)

Isn't this exactly what happens during SSL client certificate authentication? Modulo routing the response through a smartphone, that is.

Re:SSL client certificate authentication (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | 1 year,5 days | (#45159361)

Basically, yes, but client certs change. Gibson wants to keep a static cert -- Or effectively: use HMAC( clientID , domain ) to generate a cert, so one client secret is kept safe, and used to generate a different cert for use with each domain, in such a way that you can re-generate the cert for any domain.

The system falls down on two points: It's essentially the same as existing tech: SSH keys, or password protected PGP keys. IE, the single point of failure is the same; And the authentication is cued via insecure link. In other words, See also: SSL Strip.

I've looked at all these fancy (read: retarding) authentication protocols. They're all equally moronic when applied to the web because the authentication is not built in to the browsers and servers -- That's all we need, no fancy bullshit security theater.

Here, Let me lay in out for you: MITM just replaces the QR code with their own, authenticates with the client, and plays the role of the client to the server. Now, if the client has previously registered with the server then the MITM attack will be detected because they don't have the client's secret key, very true. However, if they were in the middle from the very beginning -- During the first user authentication, then they can successfully MITM it and all future sessions. Game over.

Compare this with a DAMN DEAD SIMPLE symmetric stream cipher and pre-shared key. User says: I'm $USER, and server sends a nonce, they both hash the nonce with the share secret (passphrase) and use that output to key the symmetric stream cipher. No MITM can attack the pre-shared key because they don't have the shared secret key. Ah, but how do new users get created? IE, How do you share that first key? Well, there's the Diffie Hellman Fancy obfuscation which merely moves the pre-sharedness to the Diffie helman keys. Seriously, it provides secrecy, but not identity verification, so the MITM can attack it via aforementioned initial secret interception. So, we created the public key cert chain system to provide authentication, but we fucked up and the hong-kong post office can create valid certs for google.com without Google's permission, and Verisign can be compelled by their government to generate certs too. That means the shared secret you must have is then which cert is the valid server cert. See? It's pointless. You MUST have a pre-shared key between the endpoints. All the other non-sense is just obfuscation around this basic premise. 90% of the security field are MORONS who don't grok this.

So we've just shifted around the FACT that you must FIRST share a secret key. The same goes for Gibson's protocol. It's no different than ANY OTHER.

Now, you DO NOT want a page to be displayed with a damn login form OR QR CODE. That's all sorts of dumb. See: SSL strip flavor attacks. What you want is the browser, BEFORE IT EVEN ATTEMPTS TO ESTABLISH A SECURE LINK, to pop up a "Username: [____] Password: [____]" box. You enter your username and password NOT ON A WEB PAGE, but the browser's UI. This is one thing that Gibson addresses by moving the authentication to a browser plugin or smart phone... If you've got it setup then it will be more convenient than entering a password for every site, but no more so than any other password generation program. ( In fact, I do just that: My passwords are HMAC( masterPW, domain + salt ); I change the salt to change all my passwords -- if I generated the user name via different salt too then I'd have the equivalent of Gibson's BS SQRL protocol.) Here's a link to an old version [slashdot.org] that doesn't do HMAC, but it fits in a bookmarklette.

So, it's more convenient but no more secure than what we already have. In fact: HTTP Auth already has the capability to use HMAC + Nonce to prove both parties have the same shared secret key: HMAC( sharedKey, nonce ) = proof of having the key. You visit a page, the server gives a 401 Unauthorized header, and authenticates [w3.org] , the browser pops up a dialog, The client says, Hi! I'm USER_X, the server says: Here's a nonce, prove you're the client by sending me HMAC( sharedSecret, nonce ). If you do that over SSL, and click the "remember my password" button you don't need Gibson's gymnastics... You already have this in your browser right now.

Now, what we COULD do, is instead of sending that HTTP auth HMAC output they could VERY EASILY use the HMAC( key, nonce ) output to key a symmetric stream cipher, and begin communication without fear of WITM (women in the middle -- I'm not sexist). This is only vulnerable at THE SAME point as ALL other security systems: When you share that secret. I could share the secret in person at my bank or server hosting provider, or for Slashdot we could do it on the site because I don't care if my Slashdot account gets compromised... Even if we worked the bugs out of today's Public Key infrastructure the pre-shared key would be vulnerable when you download or install your browser's set of root certs.

The answer is, and has always been: PRE FUCKING SHARED KEYS. Damn. FUCK. GRRR! Get it through your damn ape brains! This principal WILL NOT CHANGE. It's even true in the case of one time pads. Humans, ugh. Can't even grasp basic information theory... I don't even know why I bother.

Soon to be enabled (2)

Teun (17872) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158457)

I assume this will be enabled between Friday October 18, 8 pm to Saturday October 19, 1 am (Eastern Time).

Wow. (3, Funny)

bennomatic (691188) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158465)

You had me at "QR code".

Google Auth beat you to it (1)

xiando (770382) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158467)

If you want secure / two-factor today then you'll use Google Authenticator - which is what all bitcoin exchanges use. It's the standard. We don't need a new one. And it's open, so you don't need a smartphone, you can use a PC version like JAuth. This QR code thing is less smart as it would need you to actually have a smartphone - and that's a very dumb idea. The Google Authenticator standard does not, but you should use a another device (notebook computer, tablet, phone, whatever) for it since that's more secure. Anyway, this story is a yawn but that and censorship is what I've come to expect from Slashdot these days.

yes but, (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158541)

Google is ran by the CIA and NSA with front men simply being used as puppets to push a totalitarian agenda.

I laugh at anyone who trusts Google with their data, or authentication. Google is a corporation. How the fuck did you deduce that Google was the entity to trust for your most sensitive details? Was it the "don't be evil" catchphrase created 10 years ago that sold you?

Yes this guy is made a hugely retarded authentication scheme, but trusting Google with you authentication is just as hugely retarded, if not more retarded, judging from the recent NSA revelations.

Meanwhile, those that actually give a fuck about "security" host their own authentication. Trusting one of the biggest corporations in the world is not "security"

Re: Yes, I know Google is evil (1)

xiando (770382) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158737)

> I laugh at anyone who trusts Google with their data, or authentication.

Yes, I know Google is pure evil. Google Auth is based on an open standard & it is open source. As I wrote in parent post: This means that there is a whole range of implementations available. I use the Google Auth standard for auth at various Bitcoin exchanges but I do not use any Google software to do it, I use other implementations. You can use Google Auth without trusting Google with jack shit. (and yeah, I know they are evil, I've removed all the Google spyware / crapware from my phone, I don't have their appstore, etc)

Re: Yes, I know Google is evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158923)

Google Auth is based on an open standard & it is open source.

To be more specific, Google Auth (source code is here: http://code.google.com/p/google-authenticator/ [google.com] ) is based on RFCs 4226 ("HOTP: An HMAC-Based One-Time Password Algorithm") and 6238 ("TOTP: Time-Based One-Time Password Algorithm").

I don't have a smartphone, (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158485)

you insensitive clod!

I hoped against hope... (1)

gr4nf (1348501) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158527)

...as I read the acronym that the QR in it had nothing to do with QR codes. Oh well.

How to keep an idiot busy for hours (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158543)

http://xkcd.com/1237/

That's the same image Gibson uses on his page (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45159177)

So I'll add the context back in:

Three Ways to Go . . . smartphone optional:
(And we solve the XKCD problem above!) Although the original inspiration for the development of this system was a smartphone scanning a QR code on a website's login page, a small addition to that model enables two more significant modes of operation: Simply make the QR code image also a clickable link to the same URL that's encoded into the QR code.

It's not called SclickL because it still let's you take a snapshot of the QR code on a public computer/kiosk so the computer that has no sqrl: protocol handler installed gets nothing.

Secure with NSA backdoor (1)

neghvar1 (1705616) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158585)

and I'm sure NSA is forcing them to implement a backdoor or else the NSA will shut them down.

Any better than SSL client certs? (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158627)

They already exist and are supported, doing pretty much the same thing on a secondary device does little to improve things.

Re:Any better than SSL client certs? (1)

SScorpio (595836) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158795)

The point is to allow access to a site from a public computer that may be compromised without needing to enter your credentials on the site.

Re:Any better than SSL client certs? (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | 1 year,5 days | (#45159189)

The point is to allow access to a site from a public computer that may be compromised without needing to enter your credentials on the site.

What would the point in this exercise be other than inviting yourself to get totally fucked over?

Lets say for example the site in question is a webmail account. Very common. After I have logged on using squirrels from a possessed computer I don't trust with my password (So there!) the computer forwards all of my messages to the New York times, tells all of my contacts I am sexually attracted to squirrels and changes my password all while a I am sitting clueless waiting for the "slow computer" to just show me my inbox. Mission accomplished.

Re:Any better than SSL client certs? (2)

silas_moeckel (234313) | 1 year,5 days | (#45159353)

Lets think a USB hardware token? The private key never leaves the device that has a dell defined api and is built from the ground up for security. But this does not help (nor would the SQRL bits) the compromised box from hijacking the session.

Re:Any better than SSL client certs? (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | 1 year,5 days | (#45159509)

Yah! I'm authenticated on a public computer that may be compromised! Now the compromised machine can act as me! You're a moron.

Browsing on a computer that's not your own (2)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158857)

As I understand it, it's intended in part for the use case where you browse on a computer that's not your own, such as at a relative's home or a public library. This means you haven't stored a client certificate on this computer. The authenticator app on your smartphone would store its own equivalent of a client certificate.

Re:Browsing on a computer that's not your own (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | 1 year,5 days | (#45159373)

An this is better than a USB security device (hell even a phone app and cable)? When you pull out the USB you can no longer many any new connections. SQRL revocation?

Nonce! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158679)

In the U.K., the word 'nonce' has a totally different meaning...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonce_%28slang%29

I have a better idea (4, Insightful)

WaffleMonster (969671) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158711)

The endless parade of cheap hacks needs to stop. Anything less than strong bindings between session encryption and authentication is short changing everyone.

Get browser vendors to apply the TLS-SRP patches sitting in their ticket systems.

Re:I have a better idea (1)

xyourfacekillerx (939258) | 1 year,5 days | (#45158807)

EOT right here everyone. Solutions already exist, these novel approaches are unnecessary.

No smartphones for me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45158895)

No overpriced smartphones with overpriced and over limited data plans.

Forced to post as AC... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#45159073)

...my damn cellphone died, couldn't log in.

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