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Cobalt Vulnerability Wiki

V2 - Authentication




Authentication is the act of establishing, or confirming, someone (or something) as authentic and that claims made by a person or about a device are correct, resistant to impersonation, and prevent recovery or interception of passwords. When the ASVS was first released, username + password was the most common form of authentication outside of high security systems. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) was commonly accepted in security circles but rarely required elsewhere. As the number of password breaches increased, the idea that usernames are somehow confidential and passwords unknown, rendered many security controls untenable. For example, NIST 800-63 considers usernames and knowledge based authentication (KBA) as public information, SMS and email notifications as "restricted" authenticator types , and passwords as pre-breached. This reality renders knowledge based authenticators, SMS and email recovery, password history, complexity, and rotation controls useless. These controls always have been less than helpful, often forcing users to come up with weak passwords every few months, but with the release of over 5 billion username and password breaches, it's time to move on. Of all the sections in the ASVS, the authentication and session management chapters have changed the most. Adoption of effective, evidence-based leading practice will be challenging for many, and that's perfectly okay. We have to start the transition to a post-password future now.