Enhanced Password Security on Mobile Devices
Sleek and powerful touchscreen devices with continuous access to high-bandwidth wireless data networks have transformed mobile into a first-class development platform. Many applications (i.e., "apps") written for these platforms rely on remote services such as Dropbox, Facebook, and Twitter, and require users to provide one or more passwords upon installation. Unfortunately, today's mobile platforms provide no protection for users' passwords, even as mobile devices have become attractive targets for password-stealing malware and other phishing attacks.
This dissertation explores the feasibility of providing strong protections for passwords input on mobile devices without requiring large changes to existing apps.
We propose two approaches to secure password entry on mobile devices: ScreenPass and VeriUI. ScreenPass is integrated with a device's operating system and continuously monitors the device's screen to prevent malicious apps from spoofing the system's trusted software keyboard. The trusted keyboard ensures that ScreenPass always knows when a password is input, which allows it to prevent apps from sending password data to the untrusted servers. VeriUI relies on trusted hardware to isolate password handling from a device's operating system and apps. This approach allows VeriUI to prove to remote services that a relatively small and well-known code base directly handled a user's password data.
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