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AW: use cases

From: Rolf Lindemann <rlindemann@noknok.com>
Date: Thu, 9 Jun 2016 12:59:45 -0700
To: "'Dirk Balfanz'" <balfanz@google.com>, "'W3C WebAuthn WG'" <public-webauthn@w3.org>
Message-ID: <0a5201d1c289$79119ac0$6b34d040$@noknok.com>
Hi Dirk,

 

one comment:

>…. Likewise, a built-in face recognition-based authenticator in a laptop is useless as a second-factor authenticator: I can't use it to log into the RP from a new device (some device other than the laptop).

The line is not always that clear.  For example a smartphone with a bound authenticator could be used by some PC via CTAP.  

 

Kind regards,

  Rolf

Von: Dirk Balfanz [mailto:balfanz@google.com] 
Gesendet: Donnerstag, 26. Mai 2016 18:29
An: W3C WebAuthn WG
Betreff: use cases

 

Hi there, 

 

in Berlin we were talking about how the webauth API supports (at least) two use cases:

 

- first (or subsequent) logins on a new device with a "portable" authenticator (USB token, BLE fob, phone, etc.) being used as a second factor.

 

- re-authentication on a device that has a built-in authenticator (such as fingerprint reader, Windows Hello, etc.)

 

It seems to me that some authenticators are useless in one use case, and others are useless in the other use case. When calling the API, the RP should be able to somehow make sure that they don't end up with an authenticator that is unsuitable for the use case that they have in mind. 

 

Let me elaborate:

 

When an RP has a 2-factor product (such as Google's 2-Step Verification), it typically means that users that opt into this product *have* to use the second factor (authenticator) to log in, whenever they log in. In particular, when I log into the RP from a new device for the first time, I need to be able to use the authenticator that is already associated with my account. In that sense it needs to be "portable" (I need to be able to "bring it to" the new device that I'm logging in from for the first time). On the other hand, as our experience with FIDO U2F shows, this authenticator doesn't need to be particularly advanced - no need for biometrics, etc.

 

Contrast this with a use case in which a user that is *not* a two-factor user with the RP (they could be a 2-factor user, but they don't have to be) has logged in to the RP from a new device (using, presumably, username+password). Let's also say that this new device has some built-in authenticator that can identify the user, such as a fingerprint sensor, or a camera with face recognition, etc. It would be nice (and is, indeed, a use case that we explicitly want to support with the webauthn API) if the RP could tell the user "you don't have to use your password from this device anymore, you can log in using your fingerprint/Hello, etc.". This is essentially what the current UAF deployments enable.

 

Note that the same API is supposed to support both use cases. For example, in both use cases, there is a call to getAssertion(). In the first use case, it's to verify the second factor (which could be a simple device such as a U2F USB token); in the second case it's to sign in the user (through some biometric such as fingerprint or face recognition, *without* a password). Also note that the two types of authenticators are entirely unsuitable for the *other* use case: for example, a simple U2F USB token shouldn't be allowed to log me into my RP account (without any other factor), since it's not able to identify the user. Likewise, a built-in face recognition-based authenticator in a laptop is useless as a second-factor authenticator: I can't use it to log into the RP from a new device (some device other than the laptop).

 

How should we solve this problem? My first inclination would be to let the RP specify, during makeCredential(), whether they need a portable authenticator (which can be used as a second factor), or whether they need a user-identifying authenticator (which can be used to log in the user). Note that these are not mutually exclusive - you could imagine a portable authenticator with a fingerprint sensor that can be used for both use cases. But I'm not entirely sure whether the portable-vs.-identifying is really what's getting to the heart of the matter here. 

 

Any thoughts?

 

Dirk.

 
Received on Thursday, 9 June 2016 20:00:11 UTC

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