Horcrux, a Password Manager for Paranoids

Li, Haina, Computer Science - School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Evans, David, Department of Computer Science, University of Virginia

Vulnerabilities in password managers are unremitting because current designs provide large attack surfaces, both at the client and server. We describe and evaluate Horcrux, a password manager that is designed holistically to minimize and decentralize trust, while retaining the usability of a traditional password manager. The prototype Horcrux client, implemented as a Firefox add-on, is split into two components, with code that has access to the user's master's password and any key material isolated into a small auditable component, separate from the complexity of managing the user interface. Instead of exposing actual credentials to the DOM, a dummy username and password are autofilled by the untrusted component. The trusted component intercepts and modifies POST requests before they are encrypted and sent over the network. To avoid trusting a centralized store, stored credentials are secret-shared over multiple servers. To provide domain and username privacy, while maintaining resilience to off-line attacks on a compromised password store, we incorporate cuckoo hashing in a way that ensures an attacker cannot determine if a guessed master password is correct. Our approach only works for websites that do not manipulate entered credentials in the browser client, so we conducted a large-scale experiment that found the technique appears to be compatible with over 98% of tested login forms.

MS (Master of Science)
password manager, web security and privacy
Sponsoring Agency:
National Science Foundation
Issued Date: