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LastPass: Users Don't Have To Reset Master PWDs 83

Posted by timothy
from the nn@s73rp@ssw0rd-ought-to-work-fine dept.
CWmike writes "LastPass on Friday rescinded its day-old order that all users of its online password management system reset their master passwords due to a database breach. In a blog post this morning, the company said it won't allow users to change master passwords 'until our databases are completely caught up and we have resolved outstanding issues.' In an e-mail to Computerworld, LastPass CEO Joe Siegrist said the company changed its plan in response to demands from users asking they not be required to reset their passwords. However, comments posted on a LastPass blog suggest that the company's decision may also be related to trouble some users appear to be having with the password reset process. The blog post acknowledged that it had 'identified an issue' with roughly 5% of users that reset their master passwords. The company said it would be contacting those users about a fix for the problem LastPass said earlier that passwords for its Xmarks bookmark sync, which it acquired last December, were not affected."
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LastPass: Users Don't Have To Reset Master PWDs

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  • I'm rather curious about how the site passwords are stored on this site. My assumption was the all the passwords were encrypted with the master password. If this is the case and only some of the passwords are encrypted with the new password because the databases weren't "caught up" or if someone forgets their master password and needs a password reset then wouldn't the account be unrecoverable?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mysidia (191772) *

      I'm sure they have backups. If you have Pocket, you can actually backup your passwords by exporting to an encrypted .XML file, and access them locally. It's not a bad idea to keep your own backups, in addition to your offline browser storage, even though Lastpass has them stored 'in the cloud', better safe than sorry.

      2 factor auth with Yubikey/USB token is also a good idea, as they encrypt the passwords not only with your master pw, but also with the hash of your authentication tokens

    • I believe they have a way to change your master password. So, what they'd likely do is decrypt the various keychain files using your old password (which you'd have to enter to change it), and then they re-encrypt with the new password.

      Generally, passwords are pretty weak unless you follow specific protocols in how you set them up (passphrases, unusual chars, misspellings). I'd rather they used a public-private keypair, but then that would be cumbersome for users.

      • That much I understand but I was talking about if you "forget" your password and have a new one issued. If that's the case they can't decrypt your keychain because you don't have the password anymore. That's specifically what I'm wondering about.
        • From their password recovery page [lastpass.com] (I checked since I was curious after you raised the point):

          LastPass has added support for an optional way to store a disabled One Time Password (OTP) locally on your computer in case you forget your Master Password. This feature allows account recovery for those who want it without revealing your password to LastPass.

          You can choose not to save this disabled One Time Password by launching Preferences from the LastPass icon menu, and selecting the Advanced tab. If you decide to disable the local OTP, your only recourse if your password hint doesn't help is to delete your account and start over. If you disable the preference after creating one, it causes the One Time Password to be deleted off LastPass' servers.

          This makes it sound like they save the One Time Password on their server, and it decrypts a file stored only on your local PC that either contains your master password, or possibly as hash of it (I'm guessing at the implementation here). Or possibly it saves a keyfile to your PC that decrypts a separate (and separately encrypted) copy of your data.

          What does seem clear is that you are correct in so far as they CANNO

    • by Yaur (1069446)
      the existence of a "Password reset" feature implies that it is not stored securely. Balancing that with the need for a password recovery is one of the fundamental problems with this type of service.
  • ...but am I the only one who is very hesitant about storing my precious passwords "in the cloud"? I use this gvim gpg plugin [vim.org] to encrypt my passwords, on my own terms, and I make them accessible to myself by any number of ways that I control.

    Is this so incredibly difficult to do for most people that they must depend upon others to maintain their personal data?

    • by John Hasler (414242) on Friday May 06, 2011 @10:21PM (#36054082) Homepage

      Is this so incredibly difficult to do for most people that they must depend upon others to maintain their personal data?

      Yes.

      • by mspohr (589790)
        I use Keepass with a shared Dropbox file so I don't have to rely on cloud vendor security.
        • by gentry (17384)
          So you store you password encrypted file in the cloud on a service that isn't quite so security sensitive and therefore heavily protect as LastPass? Unless you're using a large key file I'd say your password security is worse, not better, than the LastPass solution.
          • by mspohr (589790)
            I don't worry about Dropbox being secure since the KeePass file is secure by AES and SHA-256. Someone could try to guess my password but that would be their only chance of breaking into the file. KeePass even has protection against dictionary attacks which means that at best can only try one or two entries per second. So I could just use "Hello" as my password and it would be nearly impossible to decrypt. However, I do have a very strong password.

            This gives me local storage on each of my machines plus

    • by Eil (82413)

      Is this so incredibly difficult to do for most people that they must depend upon others to maintain their personal data?

      Yes, downloading and installing a vim plugin (or using vim in the first place) is indeed reasonably difficult for most people.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jdwoods (89242)

        Yes, downloading and installing a vim plugin (or using vim in the first place) is indeed reasonably difficult for most people.

        That's why PasswordSafe [ http://pwsafe.org/ [pwsafe.org] and http://sourceforge.net/projects/passwordsafe/ [sourceforge.net] originally written by Bruce Schneier http://www.schneier.com/passsafe.html [schneier.com] ] is what people need.

        It doesn't solve every problem (e.g. key loggers and such things as might be on an untrusted system) but nothing does. It's a very simple, flexible, convenient piece of software that not only securely stores usernames and passwords, but URLs, email address, notes and more with the ability to copy/paste and/or drag/drop

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          But does it plug into major browsers like FF and Chromium based? Because as a PC repairman the biggest problem I run into is folks just can't keep up with all the damned passwords so they either use the same thing everywhere, or they save them all in the browser and then if something happens to the browser or OS they are boned.

          What I need is something simple, that is easy to use, where someone like my dad could just plug in a thumbstick, input a master password, and then have the thing generate random passw

          • Even that wouldn't work for many people, since they also want to use it on an iP{hone,ad}.

          • by jdwoods (89242)

            Differences from one website to another make it very hard to automate username & password login. Some web sites (especially some that are nuts about Flash and Web2.0) make it hard just to type them in. However, for 90+% of websites and applications, drag&drop works great; for copy/paste works too. You don't have to select the text and then copy it, just select the entry you want and click a button to copy username to the clipboard (then paste it with keyboard or mouse clicks) then click another butt

          • by pnutjam (523990)
            even without plugins, keepass will run from USB on any machine back to win95 and you can open the pw database and have it auto-type passwords. It does have a tendency to auto-close if you don't change the settings.

            In addition to keeping it on your USB stick, there are also versions for just about every mobile device out there.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mysidia (191772) *

      Ok, that's neat and all... but where's the iPhone/iPad/Blackberry app to access the 'gvim gpg' password store on the go? Where's the browser plugin to auto-login and automatically fill forms based on the gvim gpg datastore?

      • ...where's the iPhone/iPad/Blackberry app to access the 'gvim gpg' password store on the go?

        I thought it was for our benefit that Apple does not permit libre software on the iPhone/iPad, and that anyone who does not want to pay the Apple tax should just turn to "the cloud" to deliver their applications.

      • by pongo000 (97357)

        Ok, that's neat and all... but where's the iPhone/iPad/Blackberry app to access the 'gvim gpg' password store on the go? Where's the browser plugin to auto-login and automatically fill forms based on the gvim gpg datastore?

        Rolling your own is a bit more work (yes, I have to fill in the passwords myself, rather than using autofill [and who knows where *that* data might be cached]), but at least I don't have to worry about a 3rd party telling me that I have to change my secure passphrase...and then changing

    • by nbetcher (973062) <nbetcher@gmai l . c om> on Friday May 06, 2011 @10:35PM (#36054132)
      As someone who uses multiple systems, multiple web-browsers, and multiple operating systems (even virtual machines) I can say: yes, it is difficult to maintain my personal data. My LastPass account has over 50 sites in it. To be honest, most of them I don't even care if they were hacked. My banking website isn't even truly vital since you can't transfer funds electronically outbound, it requires an email confirmation to change physical address, and the account number is truncated on all of the screens (including exported data).

      Does your GVIM data get stored somewhere that is accessible to you no matter where you are? And if it is, then it's most likely accessible to someone else if they were to hack you. Point being, nothing is completely secure AND easy. From the sounds of it though, LastPass has a system in place to secure the passwords, although I'm unsure how that can work with a "Lost Password" scenario that MorderVonAllem talks about in another comment.
      • Does your GVIM data get stored somewhere that is accessible to you no matter where you are?

        The contents are encrypted with their GPG key. If they have their GPG key and the encrypted files, then yes they can get access. If I need access to a particular password, I load the file into GPA's clipboard utility, decrypt it, then copy/paste the password over to where it is needed (or type it).

        Personally, I store my encrypted files inside a version control system and use that to keep multiple systems in syn
        • by mysidia (191772) *

          Personally, I store my encrypted files inside a version control system and use that to keep multiple systems in sync. Which solves the "keeping multiple systems up to date" problem, unless it's a system where you can't do version control.

          So, if someone compromises your version control system, or one of your computers, they could grab the encrypted file. And maybe the encrypted GPG secret key file.

          Then it's just a matter of brute forcing the GPG passphrase...

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            And assuming he used one of a decent length that is not a concern

            • by mysidia (191772) *

              And assuming he used one of a decent length that is not a concern

              And assuming you used a Lastpass master password of a decent length, it's not a concern that someone will be able to brute-force the encryption on the RSA 2048-bit key to get the private key required to decrypt Lastpass' AES256 encrypted blob.

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      I keep my passwords in a KeePass file in my Dropbox account. I can access them pretty much anywhere, and the only way they're getting stolen is if someone cracks both Dropbox's security and breaks my KeePass password. I assume Dropbox would let people know if they were hacked, so I'd have plenty of time to change my passwords before the KeePass security fails, assuming it ever does.

      Given the very large number of passwords I have to keep, this is certainly a better solution than reusing the same few (my ol

    • Is this so incredibly difficult to do for most people that they must depend upon others to maintain their personal data?

      Do you even have to ask?

      Not to be elitist or condescending, but most end users can be likened to toddlers, just able to take enough steps to move themselves around but still desperately in need of others to take care of them and give them an environment they can survive in. When they do not get what they want, they throw tantrums and scream and cry until either they get what they want or someone hands them a shiny distraction that makes them completely forget what exactly they were demanding. It is u

      • by artor3 (1344997)

        Not to be elitist or condescending....

        You know, saying "not to do x" immediately before doing x doesn't make it any better. You might as well say "Not to be racist, but [insert ethnic group here] should learn their place."

        • by causality (777677)

          Not to be elitist or condescending....

          You know, saying "not to do x" immediately before doing x doesn't make it any better. You might as well say "Not to be racist, but [insert ethnic group here] should learn their place."

          The difference is greater than it may seem. While a real elitist or a truly condescending person may be glad and feel vindicated because this is so, the GP seemed to share my regret that the average has been reduced to this. I don't consider that elitist, racist, condescending, etc... I consider it a willingness to call things what they are and to focus one's energies on how to improve and be part of the solution.

          If you don't wish to see it that way, then dismissal becomes an attractive option. Doesn't

          • by artor3 (1344997)

            You know, going with my racism example, a racist would say he's just calling things the way they are too. Saying "not to be condescending" doesn't make someone any less of an arrogant prick, if they then go on to call the majority of people a bunch of screaming mindless toddlers.

    • Interesting plug-in. On Windows, I've been storing passwords as GPG ASCII armored text blocks inside of regular text files (generally 1 per service or site). Decryption requires that I copy/paste the ASCII block into GPA's clipboard viewer.

      (I try to keep things ASCII as much as possible when it comes to this, because that way you can fax / print / email the contents of the text file without having to do any binary/text conversion for fax/print.)

      I store my password files in a version control system, wh
    • ...but am I the only one who is very hesitant about storing my precious passwords "in the cloud"? I use this gvim gpg plugin [vim.org] to encrypt my passwords, on my own terms, and I make them accessible to myself by any number of ways that I control.

      Is this so incredibly difficult to do for most people that they must depend upon others to maintain their personal data?

      I use Lastpass but not for "precious passwords". I could care less if they steal all my web forum logins etc. The important ones like online retailers who have personal info, banks, etc. I store in my head.

      Most people I know use 123456 or password as their password everywhere then wonder how sh*t happens. If I ever get compromised at a sensitive site it's not because *I* didn't try, it's because I have no control over what happens to my 'net packets after they leave the router. Many sites really make me won

  • The whole concept of this system screams "bad idea" to me. Of course, I said the same thing about Hushmail, and even after the DEA demonstrated why Hushmail was a bad idea people continued to use and even recommend it.
    • Government and police can access anything in your cloud and on your machine if they want to: they can put trojans and keyloggers into your software updates and downloads, and they can fake SSL certificates and decrypt your encrypted traffic. And they don't just do that in the US, they do it in many countries. To protect against government intrusion into your data is very hard. A service like Hushmail is probably more secure than almost anything you can do yourself, even on your own harddisk.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    TFA says .5%, not 5%.

  • This and other recent "breaches" pretty much show that for the preset (anyway), storing critical information "in the cloud" is neither secure nor reliable.

    Certainly, high traffic web serving can benefit from "The Cloud", especially for those that don't have the money to support the kind of hardware and infrastructure.

    But highly valuable and/or proprietary corporate or personal information? Nope...
    • by gentry (17384)
      The 'cloud' in this case is the LastPass database where the levels of security are far higher than a desktop users PC or a general file storage service. Sure, there is an increased exposure due to all of those passwords being in the same place, but even if the entire LastPass database was stolen if users have strong passwords it is unlike their data would be exposed, especially now they've introduced PBKDF2 with 100,000 rounds of 256 bit salting. That's at least as good as KeePass with password only encrypt
    • There was no confirmed breach just suspicious traffic.And a lot of media hype. Almost all media misquoted the incident so the hole incident sounds more exiting.

      And even if there was a breach: Unlike almost all other Cloud services Lastpass encrypts all data client site. Either by plug-in or JavaScript. Without the master password data is useless.

      And no: master passwords where not stolen — as the media tells everybody — if your master password is weak then someone might guess it.

  • This might be a lack of understanding of the LastPass system on my part, but I'm not understanding why they are/were suggesting customers reset their master password. Surely, if this password decrypts a password safe then it is as, if not more, important to reset all passwords which were stored in the database.
    • The master passwords weren't leaked, there was a possibility that someone got access to data that would allow them the possibilty of brute-forcing user's master passwords. The way the system works is that the master password encrypts the database of your passwords. They didn't have any definitive so they suggested you change your password just to be safe.
      • by blake1 (1148613)
        So what I'm saying is... these guys have potentially got the password databases. What's changing your master password going to do? It'll ensure that they can't get into your password safe as it stands, online. But if they brute force your database then all of your passwords are compromised. No?
        • by pdbaby (609052)
          LastPass said that the level of traffic they saw in the attack was enough for the password hashes + salts but not enough for users encrypted blobs.
  • Based on that description, it sounds like they are saying users don't have to change their master password because their systems can't keep up with load, rather than because they've proven that user data isn't at risk.

  • There are two pretty fundamental problems with lastpass.

    1. The stronger the security the less usable the system is. They could require two factor and one factor could be a username password pair where the password is at least 24 bytes, no two bytes in a row. The second factor could be an RSA token, or their grid system for one time pads seems pretty solid to me. AES-256 blockmode encrypt the users data as one big struct with those keys and you have a data store that even if becomes completely public is l

    • LastPass gives the user the option to use all these security features (strong master password, authentication grid, fingerprint/card reader, hardware key), but they can't force the user to be secure.

      The user is always the weakest link, but this doesn't mean that those who know what they are doing can't be safe.

  • Here's an idea/question: Why can't Lastpass generate strong temporary passwords and send that to users?
    • by lasaboogy (913223)

      Here's an idea/question: Why can't Lastpass generate strong temporary passwords and send that to users?

      It doesn't work that way. They would have to know your original master password in order to decrypt your database and re-encode it with the new temporary password. Since they do not know your master password, this idea fails.

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