#6 Password handling problems...


I noticed in the latest version of Althea, you have
started obfuscating the user's password when it is
stored in the file in their HOME directory.

This is still very insecure handling of user passwords
expecially in an environment like ours, where all of
the home directories are shared among many computers
via NFS and SMB. Requiring the storage of login
passwords on disk without strong encryption is a
security nightmare and is the only thing stopping me
from installing Althea on our network.

Now, to get to my feature request. Would it be too
difficult to make the password disk-storage a
compile-time option or even a configuration option,
making the alternative a simple pop-up prompt for the
password when the program first connects to any IMAP
server, then storing passwords in memory only for the
life of the althea process. This is how Pine, Eudora,
Netscape, and many other IMAP clients work, and it is
much more secure...


-- Brian Powell
Senior Systems Manager,
The Ohio Supercomputer Center


  • Ethan Sommer

    Ethan Sommer - 2001-05-05

    Logged In: YES

    While I plan to try to get a password prompting scheme to
    work (probably the next feature I add) I'd like to address
    the issure of strong encryption you brought up.

    It is impossible to have strong encryption for this
    purpose... Unless we ask for a password (which would kind of
    defeat the purpose) there is no private key. Without a
    private key the best you can do is security via the
    obscurity of the algorithm. Since althea is open source,
    that isn't possible.... so the best we can do is to make it
    so that a human couldn't decrypt the password in his head...
    which I think my algorithm does.

    That said. Yes, you are correct, the current system should
    not be used in areas where you do not trust anyone who could
    get access to the file. (the admins or anyone with enough
    access that you don't trust other security systems to keep
    them out...)

  • Ethan Sommer

    Ethan Sommer - 2001-05-06

    Logged In: YES

    OK this is now fixed in the latest CVS build. Give it a try.

  • Ethan Sommer

    Ethan Sommer - 2001-05-06
    • priority: 5 --> 8
    • assigned_to: nobody --> sommere
    • status: open --> closed

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