GOTCHA Password Hackers!
Authors: Jeremiah Blocki, Manuel Blum, Anupam Datta

Date: November 2013
Publication: Proceedings of the 2013 ACM Workshop on Artificial Intelligence and Security, AISec '13
Page(s): 25 - 34
Publisher: ACM
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Abstract or Summary:
We introduce GOTCHAs (Generating panOptic Turing Tests to Tell Computers and Humans Apart) as a way of preventing automated offline dictionary attacks against user selected passwords. A GOTCHA is a randomized puzzle generation protocol, which involves interaction between a computer and a human. Informally, a GOTCHA should satisfy two key properties: (1) The puzzles are easy for the human to solve. (2) The puzzles are hard for a computer to solve even if it has the random bits used by the computer to generate the final puzzle --- unlike a CAPTCHA [44]. Our main theorem demonstrates that GOTCHAs can be used to mitigate the threat of offline dictionary attacks against passwords by ensuring that a password cracker must receive constant feedback from a human being while mounting an attack. Finally, we provide a candidate construction of GOTCHAs based on Inkblot images. Our construction relies on the usability assumption that users can recognize the phrases that they originally used to describe each Inkblot image --- a much weaker usability assumption than previous password systems based on Inkblots which required users to recall their phrase exactly. We conduct a user study to evaluate the usability of our GOTCHA construction. We also generate a GOTCHA challenge where we encourage artificial intelligence and security researchers to try to crack several passwords protected with our scheme.

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