Password Managers Vulnerabilities - Under Hood of Secrets Management

Brink

Staff member
mvp
Abstract:

Password managers allow the storage and retrieval of sensitive information from an encrypted database. Users rely on them to provide better security guarantees against trivial exfiltration than alternative ways of storing passwords, such as an unsecured flat text file. In this paper we propose security guarantees password managers should offer and examine the underlying workings of five popular password managers targeting the Windows 10 platform: 1Password 7 [1], 1Password 4 [1], Dashlane [2], KeePass [3], and LastPass [4]. We anticipated that password managers would employ basic security best practices, such as scrubbing secrets from memory when they are not in use and sanitization of memory once a password manager was logged out and placed into a locked state. However, we found that in all password managers we examined, trivial secrets extraction was possible from a locked password manager, including the master password in some cases, exposing up to 60 million users that use the password managers in this study to secrets retrieval from an assumed secure locked state.

Introduction:

First and foremost, password managers are a good thing. All password managers we have examined add value to the security posture of secrets management, and as Troy Hunt, an active security researcher once wrote, “Password managers don’t have to be perfect, they just have to be better than not having one” [5]. Aside from being an administrative tool to allow users to categorize and better manage their credentials, password managers guide users to avoid bad password practices such as using weak passwords, common passwords, generic passwords, and password reuse.

The tradeoff is that users’ credentials are then centrally stored and managed, typically protected by a single master password to unlock a password manager data store. With the rising popularity of password manager use it is safe to assume that adversarial activity will target the growing user base of these password managers. Table 1, below, outlines the number of individual users and business entities for each of the password managers we examine in this paper.

Read more: Password Managers: Under the Hood of Secrets Management - Independent Security Evaluators
 

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