Forensically-Sound Analysis of Security Risks of using Local Password Managers

Gray, Joshua; Franqueira, Virginia N. L. and Yu, Yijun (2016). Forensically-Sound Analysis of Security Risks of using Local Password Managers. In: Proceedings: 2016 IEEE 24th International Requirements Engineering Conference Workshops (REW), IEEE, pp. 114–121.



Password managers have been developed to address the human challenges associated with password security, i.e., to solve usability issues in a secure way. They offer, e.g., features to create strong passwords, to manage the increasing number of passwords a typical user has, and to auto-fill passwords, sparing users the hassle of not only remembering but also typing them. Previous studies have focused mainly on the security analysis of cloud-based and browser-based password managers; security of local password managers remains mostly under-explored. This paper takes a forensic approach and reports on a case study of three popular local password managers: KeePass (v2.28), Password Safe (v3.35.1) and RoboForm (v7.9.12). Results revealed that either the master password or the content of the password database could be found unencrypted in Temp folders, Page files or Recycle bin, even after the applications had been closed. Therefore, an attacker or malware with temporary access to the computer on which the password managers were running may be able to steal sensitive information, even though these password managers are meant to keep the databases encrypted and protected at all times.

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