The history around passwords is blurry as the invention of the wheel. Most people say that one of the first usages was in the mid nineteen sixties, when MIT was building the Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS). This was a 30 million dollar computer, that was being shared between users.

    Quickly there was a need to keep private homes for each user. Computing resources and storage were scarce at that time
    so the solution was to store a secret (the password) that would be checked against the user login and verify the

Many years later, around 1989, Tim Berners-Lee developed the HTTP protocol which allowed us to have the internet as we know it today. Since then, many standards have been defined:

  • HTTP Basic Authentication - Which encodes usernames and passwords in Base64, which by the way, is not a encryption algorithm.
  • HTTP Digest Authentication - Which improves the previous status quo by hashing using MD5 the user credentials with the requested resource HTTP method and URI. By today’s standard, MD5 is not considered secure and should be avoided as it can be brute forced in a very short amount of time.
  • HTTP Bearer tokens - Which improves the security by using better hashing algorithms, yet doesn’t solve issues such as replay attacks
  • Form based Authentication - Where developers “invent” their own security, which sadly ends up on big security breaches.
  • One Time Password - Using authenticators with a pre shared key. Given that the key is pre-shared, it can be leaked easily.

And we could be keep the list going if we wanted…

What’s wrong with the status quo?

So what is wrong with the status quo? Well, the world has now billions of connected devices to the internet. Dozens of authentication mechanisms, which sadly all have big flaws. Let me just list a couple of well know security breaches to illustrate the severity of the problem.

  • Yahoo (Aug 2013) 3 billion accounts leaked
  • Alibaba (Nov 2019) 1.1 billion user data leaked
  • LinkedIn (Jun 2021) 700 million user data leaked
  • Sina Weibo (Mar 2020) 538 million accounts leaked
  • Facebook (Apr 2019) 533 million user data leaked

Sadly this is just a scratch of the top of the iceberg. Probably there’s a breach happening right now and the list will never end.

In this conference you will learn a lot about FIDO2. I’ll leave it’s details to other speakers. If you want to know more I’d recommend you to visit the website.

Source Example

package com.example.webauthn;

import io.vertx.core.AbstractVerticle;
import io.vertx.core.Promise;
import io.vertx.core.http.CookieSameSite;
import io.vertx.core.http.HttpServerOptions;
import io.vertx.ext.auth.webauthn.RelyingParty;
import io.vertx.ext.auth.webauthn.WebAuthn;
import io.vertx.ext.auth.webauthn.WebAuthnOptions;
import io.vertx.ext.web.Router;
import io.vertx.ext.web.handler.*;
import io.vertx.ext.web.sstore.LocalSessionStore;

public class MainVerticle extends AbstractVerticle {

    public void start(Promise<Void> start) {

        // Dummy database, real world workloads
        // use a persistent store or course!
        final InMemoryStore database = new InMemoryStore();

        // create the webauthn security object
        WebAuthn webAuthN = WebAuthn.create(
                        new WebAuthnOptions()
                                .setRelyingParty(new RelyingParty().setName("Vert.x Demo Server")))
                // where to load/update authenticators data

        final Router app = Router.router(vertx);
        // parse the BODY
        // favicon
        // add a session handler

        // security handler
        WebAuthnHandler webAuthnHandler = WebAuthnHandler.create(webAuthN)
                .setOrigin(String.format("", System.getenv("IP")))
                // required callback
                // optional register callback
                // optional login callback

        // secure the remaining routes

        // serve the SPA

                        new HttpServerOptions()
                                        new JksOptions()

                .listen(8443, "")
                .onSuccess(v -> {
                    System.out.printf("Server listening at:", System.getenv("IP"));

Paulo Lopes

I'm Paulo and I've used my 10+ years of software development experience writing, rewriting, banging my head against the wall, editing and re-editing high-performance web application to make Vert.x an even more awesome framework.

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