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Forgot Password behavior question...

Thread began 9/01/2009 1:26 am by steve387748 | Last modified 9/02/2009 1:08 pm by Jason Byrnes | 1750 views | 3 replies |

steve387748

Forgot Password behavior question...

Imagine a scenario where a user clicks the forgot password link. Let's say they put someone else's valid email address in the email address field. Think of a kid that's a prankster that can see email addresses of members of a site or just knows a valid email address based on correspondence with a buddy.

Am I correct in understanding the way SA handles the process when someone interacts with the forgot password page is to generate a random password, then encrypt it and store it in the database using the password atrribute for the email address that was entered, and then mail the randomly generated password to the email address that was entered (using a temporary session variable if I remember the tutorial correctly)?

Imagine you are the recipient of the email that is sent showing you the new randomly generated password. If you disregard it because you didn't request a new password, how will you ever get back into the site given that the password was changed by SA?

If you can't login using what you thought was your existing password, does this mean that someone can get any member's email address (or any number of them) and trigger password resets for each of them even though the owner never requested this?

steve

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Jason ByrnesWebAssist

Yes, this is correct.

But then again, if the user tries to login after the password has been changed and cannot, they can always go back to the forgot password page to reset it once again.

The tutorial shows one way a forgot password page can be configured, you could take the tutorial a few steps further and implement a system where there is an question and answer to be abler to reset the password to safe guard against this situation.

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steve387748

Yeah, I think that sounds like a good idea (ask secret question where they must supply a secret answer to continue).

I see your point that they could always click on the link if their old password didn't work and get another temporary one. The problem is that the person that was jacking around causing these kinds of forgot password changes to occur could simply do it again and again. Imagine you have a subscription to a business where someone keeps doing this to you. You probably won't remain subscribed too long with this model.

Another technique I've seen is where a company sends you an email with a link to click to continue with the resetting password process if that's what the person wants to do. If not, they can ignore the email and still use their existing password.

If they truly forgot their password, the link takes them to a page where they answer a security question with a security answer (who's your dumbest relative kind of questions) and if that succeeds, they move on to a change password page where they can create a new password for themselves.

The key is that the business never changes the password, only the user. The link that's in the email includes the person's email address that's hashed in somehow. On the database side of things there's an attribute that contains a timestamp so that if the person clicks on the email after a few days of it being sent, they need to start the process over again since the email is only good for 24 hours.

Lots of extra work on the developer's side of things, but ensures kids/hackers aren't jacking things around by tricking the business into changing their user's passwords on them.

thanks for your straightforward answer and suggestion,

steve

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Jason ByrnesWebAssist

Yes, all of those are good strategies to implement, you just need to find the one that works best for your site.

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