Seamless Single Sign-On

There are many different authentication primitives built into browsers. The most common include Web Forms authentication, HTTP authentication, client certificate authentication, and the new WebAuthN standard. Numerous different authentication frameworks build atop these, and many enterprise websites support more than one scheme. Each of the underlying authentication primitives has different characteristics: client certificate authentication isContinue reading “Seamless Single Sign-On”

Revealing Passwords

The Microsoft Edge browser, Edge Legacy, and Internet Explorer all offer a convenient mechanism for users to unmask their typing as they edit a password field: Clicking the little eye icon disables the masking dots so that users can see the characters they’re typing: This feature can be very useful for those of us whoContinue reading “Revealing Passwords”

Client Certificate Authentication

While most HTTPS sites only authenticate the server (using a certificate sent by the website), HTTPS also supports a mutual authentication mode, whereby the client supplies a certificate that authenticates the visiting user’s identity. Such a certificate might be stored on a SmartCard, or used as a part of an OS identity feature like WindowsContinue reading “Client Certificate Authentication”

Browser Password Managers: Threat Models

All major browsers have a built-in password manager. So we should use them, right? I Do I use my browser’s password manager because it’s convenient: with sync, I get all of my passwords on all of my devices. This convenience means that I can use a different password for every website, improving my security. ThisContinue reading “Browser Password Managers: Threat Models”

Challenges with Federated Identity in modern browsers

Many websites offer a “Log in” capability where they don’t manage the user’s account; instead, they offer visitors the ability to “Login with <identity provider>.” When the user clicks the Login button on the original relying party (RP) website, they are navigated to a login page at the identity provider (IP) (e.g. login.microsoft.com) and then redirectedContinue reading “Challenges with Federated Identity in modern browsers”

Protect Your Accounts with 2FA

You should enable “2-Step Verification” for logins to your Google account. Google Authenticator is an app that runs on your iOS or Android phone and gives out 6 digit codes that must be entered when you log in on a device. This can’t really prevent phishing (because a phishing page will just ask you forContinue reading “Protect Your Accounts with 2FA”

Private Browsing Mode

Note: This blog post was written before the new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge was announced. As a consequence, it mostly discusses the behavior of the Legacy Microsoft Edge browser. The new Chromium-based Edge behaves largely the same way as Google Chrome. InPrivate Mode was introduced in Internet Explorer 8 with the goal of helping users improveContinue reading “Private Browsing Mode”