On the Usability of Authenticity Checks for Hardware Security Tokens

Katharina Pfeffer, Alexandra Mai, Adrian Dabrowski, Matthias Gusenbauer, Philipp Schindler, Edgar R. Weippl, Michael Franz, Katharina Krombholz
2021 USENIX Security Symposium  
The final responsibility to verify whether a newly purchased hardware security token (HST) is authentic and unmodified lies with the end user. However, recently reported attacks on such tokens suggest that users cannot take the security guarantees of their HSTs for granted, even despite widely deployed authenticity checks. We present the first comprehensive market review evaluating the effectiveness and usability of authenticity checks for the most commonly used HSTs. Furthermore, we conducted
more » ... survey (n = 194) to examine users' perceptions and usage of these checks. We found that due to a lack of transparency and information, users often do not carry out-or even are not aware of-essential checks but rely on less meaningful methods. Moreover, our results confirm that currently deployed authenticity checks suffer from improperly perceived effectiveness and cannot mitigate all variants of distribution attacks. Furthermore, some authenticity concepts of different manufacturers contradict each other. In order to address these challenges, we suggest (i) a combination of conventional and novel authenticity checks, and (ii) a user-centered, transparent design.
dblp:conf/uss/PfefferMDGSWFK21 fatcat:pcxmvlsufng7hnkz3nuwiu7nra