Efficient and secure authenticated key exchange using weak passwords

TitleEfficient and secure authenticated key exchange using weak passwords
Publication TypeJournal Articles
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsKatz J, Ostrovsky R, Yung M
JournalJournal of the ACM (JACM)
Pagination3:1–3:39 - 3:1–3:39
Date Published2009/11//
ISBN Number0004-5411
KeywordsAuthentication, cryptography, passwords

Mutual authentication and authenticated key exchange are fundamental techniques for enabling secure communication over public, insecure networks. It is well known how to design secure protocols for achieving these goals when parties share high-entropy cryptographic keys in advance of the authentication stage. Unfortunately, it is much more common for users to share weak, low-entropy passwords which furthermore may be chosen from a known space of possibilities (say, a dictionary of English words). In this case, the problem becomes much more difficult as one must ensure that protocols are immune to off-line dictionary attacks in which an adversary exhaustively enumerates all possible passwords in an attempt to determine the correct one. We propose a 3-round protocol for password-only authenticated key exchange, and provide a rigorous proof of security for our protocol based on the decisional Diffie-Hellman assumption. The protocol assumes only public parameters—specifically, a “common reference string”—which can be “hard-coded” into an implementation of the protocol; in particular, and in contrast to some previous work, our protocol does not require either party to pre-share a public key. The protocol is also remarkably efficient, requiring computation only (roughly) 4 times greater than “classical” Diffie-Hellman key exchange that provides no authentication at all. Ours is the first protocol for password-only authentication that is both practical and provably-secure using standard cryptographic assumptions.