In many computer operating systems a user authenticates himself by entering a secret password known solely to himself and the system. The system compares this password with one recorded in a Password Table which is available to only the authentication program. The integrity of the system depends on keeping the table secret. In this paper a password scheme is presented which does not require secrecy in the computer. All aspects of the system, including all relevant code and data bases, may be known by anyone attempting to intrude.
The scheme is based on using a function H which the would-be intruder is unable to invert. This function is applied to the user's password and the result compared to a table entry, a match being interpreted as authentication of the user. The intruder may know all about H and have access to the table, but he can penetrate the system only if he can invert H to determine an input that produces a given output.
This paper discusses issues surrounding selection of a suitable H. Two different plausible arguments are given that penetration would be exceedingly difficult, and it is then argued that more rigorous results are unlikely. Finally, some human engineering problems relating to the scheme are discussed.
The full text of this article is premium content
No entries found
Log in to Read the Full Article
Please select one of the options below for access to premium content and features.
Create a Web Account
If you are already an ACM member, Communications subscriber, or Digital Library subscriber, please set up a web account to access premium content on this site.
Join the ACM
Become a member to take full advantage of ACM's outstanding computing information resources, networking opportunities, and other benefits.
Subscribe to Communications of the ACM Magazine
Get full access to 50+ years of CACM content and receive the print version of the magazine monthly.
Purchase the Article
Non-members can purchase this article or a copy of the magazine in which it appears.