One-to-One
News
8/1/2005
11:43 AM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Stanford Computer Scientists Unveil New Anti-Phishing Software

A pair of browser plug-ins changes how passwords are transmitted and detects phishing sites.

A pair of Stanford University computer science professors unveiled today a new password scheme designed to thwart phishing at bank and other sites where a user's identity and money are at risk. Dubbed PwdHash, the technique involves hashing the user's password with the domain name of the site in a way that ensures that the target site is the real one, and not a site designed by phishers to capture user information.

"Phishing attacks fool users into sending their passwords to an unintended website," says PwdHash inventor Dan Boneh, an associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering, "and since Internet users often use the same password at many websites, a phishing attack on one site will expose their passwords at many other sites." Boneh and co-inventor John Mitchell say they can change all that.

Their research group has developed an extension to popular web browsers that overhauls the security of passwords with only the slightest change in the daily web-surfing experience. To tell PwdHash to do the hashing users have to type "@@" or the press the F2 key before typing in their password. In user tests, people had no problem remembering to enter @@, Mitchell says.

Users will have to change their passwords using PwdHash at sites where they have accounts to take advantage of PwdHash. But users can do this at their own pace, Mitchell says. "Besides, changing passwords is something people should do anyway," he says. Caveats from the developers include the fact that PwdHash does not work for the AOL browser and cannot protect users who have downloaded software that can read their keystrokes as soon as they type them.

SpoofGuard is another browser extension developed by the team. It apparently can recognize illegitimate pages and warn users when they visit them. After installing SpoofGuard, a user would only have to watch his or her screen to avoid many phishing sites. PwdHash would then be the second line of defense.

Further information and free, prototype versions of both PwdHash and SpoofGuard are online at Stanford PwdHash and Stanford SpoofGuard.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
IT's Reputation: What the Data Says
IT's Reputation: What the Data Says
InformationWeek's IT Perception Survey seeks to quantify how IT thinks it's doing versus how the business really views IT's performance in delivering services - and, more important, powering innovation. Our results suggest IT leaders should worry less about whether they're getting enough resources and more about the relationships they have with business unit peers.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest September 24, 2014
Start improving branch office support by tapping public and private cloud resources to boost performance, increase worker productivity, and cut costs.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.