On the (In)Security of Mobile Two-Factor Authentication

AuthorDmitrienko, Alexandra; Liebchen, Christopher; Rossow, Christian; Sadeghi, Ahmad-Reza
TypeConference Proceedings
AbstractTwo-factor authentication (2FA) schemes aim at strengthening the security of login password-based authentication by deploying secondary authentication tokens. In this context, mobile 2FA schemes require no additional hardware (e.g., a smartcard) to store and handle the secondary authentication token, and hence are considered as a reasonable trade-off between security, usability and costs. They are widely used in online banking and increasingly deployed by Internet service providers. In this paper, we investigate 2FA implementations of several well-known Internet service providers such as Google, Dropbox, Twitter and Facebook. We identify various weaknesses that allow an attacker to easily bypass them, even when the secondary authentication token is not under attacker's control. We then go a step further and present a more general attack against mobile 2FA schemes. Our attack relies on cross-platform infection that subverts control over both end points (PC and a mobile device) involved in the authentication protocol. We apply this attack in practice and successfully circumvent diverse schemes: SMS-based TAN solutions of four large banks, one instance of a visual TAN scheme, 2FA login verification systems of Google, Dropbox, Twitter and Facebook accounts, and the Google Authenticator app currently used by 32 third-party service providers. Finally, we cluster and analyze hundreds of real-world malicious Android apps that target mobile 2FA schemes and show that banking Trojans already deploy mobile counterparts that steal 2FA credentials like TANs.
InFinancial Cryptography and Data Security (FC'14)