LOXIN: A Password-Less Universal Login System– Enabling Bring-Your-Own-Device for Authentication in Enterprise (NSERC Idea to Innovation Grant, 2019-2020)

Introduction

As the easiest and cheapest way of authenticating an end user, password-based authentication methods have been consistently employed by organizations and businesses as the default mechanism of restricting and monitoring access. The increased adoption of cloud applications and third-party services within an enterprise generally requires employees to keep track of a number of user names and passwords on a daily basis. The fact that employees need to remember multiple login credentials has incurred significant costs for an enterprise due to the increasing number of help desk calls for pass- word reset. Moreover, the current practice of using multiple user names and passwords in enterprises is also exposing the business to more opportunities for security breaches, as demonstrated by recent password leaks in big brands such as Apple, Adobe, and LinkedIn.
This project is based on the work on Loxin – A Solution to Password-less Universal Login, published in 2014 by Bo Zhu, Xinxin Fan and Guang Gong.  The core architecture and methodology of the secure password-less authentication system LOXIN are protected by U.S. Patent 10136135 (filed on April 15, 2015, awarded in Dec 2018).


Research topics

A high-level system architecture and operation modes of LOXIN based enterprise authentication solution are shown in Figure 1.


Loxin fig.1


- Developing the Loxin mobile application, web APIs and the Loxin server software.
 Implementation of the core functionalities, and developing an app for smartphones and testing its functionality includes the core functionalities on an Android emulator:  1) cryptographic operations such as generating public/private key pairs, and computing digital signatures; 2) connecting the enterprise CA, the Loxin server, and the PMS via the Internet for registration, authentication and revocation; 3) secure storage for the user's private key in the application (perhaps in an encrypted format), and preventing unauthorized accesses without proper (biometric) authentication. 
 The server-side development of web APIs and the Loxin server software  consists of two tasks, namely implementing the Loxin Server, and developing a collection of modules for application program interfaces (APIs) and web services. 

-  Threat and risk assessment of the Loxin system.
 Further security analysis of the loxin system will be conducted by considering deployment scenarios and real-world threat models.  We consider to use some tools to formally verify the correctness of the protocols. The attacks, namely man-in-the-middle, mobile phishing attacks, and other social engineering attacks such as smishing and impersonation attacks will be considered, especially, phishing attacks which have become more sophisticated and effective.  Threats and risks from those attacks will be assessed. 
Design a penetration test for the loxin system where the white-box testing approach will be taken, and information such as IP addresses of the servers, the Loxin protocol details plus source code, and the network infrastructure schematics will be exploited to conduct the test. 


References:

B. Zhu, X. Fan, and G. Gong. “Loxin – A Solution to Password-less Universal Login". In 2014 IEEE Conference on Computer Communications Workshops (INFOCOM WKSHPS), pages 488–493, April 2014.

Last updated: November 27, 2019

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