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Discord and Security UI Patterns

20 June 2020

I've been using web browser cookie-based login for Discord. Recently my main laptop crashed. Now using an old standby laptop, I visit Discord and am prompted for password. No problem, I have it in my password safe that is backed up regularly. Password ok, now prompted for 2FA. Hmmm, 2FA fails...

Right, seems I have been using cookie-based login for so long that, during that time, I bought a new phone and sold the old phone. For 2FA, I use Duo Mobile, and it is phone-specific:

Since Duo Mobile is tied to a specific device's hardware security module (HSM), you will need to reinstall and reactivate Duo Mobile on a new phone.

No biggie, this is only Discord. I'll make a new account. Ok done. Login again. Discord repeatedly says, for my new account, "We've detected something out of the ordinary going on. To continue using Discord, we will need you to verify your account." And the single option presented is to verify by phone. That's an easy decision: No Discord, you are not getting my mobile phone number.

A few things to think about, in no particular order, from both user and system engineering perspectives:

  • I am willing to use cookie-based login for Discord. Probably need not have enabled 2FA. If a user enables cookie login, perhaps prompt to turn off 2FA, or do it automatically?

  • With a password safe, my Discord password is randomly generated gibberish. Is that, combined with good integration of safe and browser, better than using cookie-based login? Am I applying resume-padding thinking here?

  • As a user, RTF2FAM. As a system engineer, expect no user to.

  • The corporate IT world practises periodic security credentials review. Overkill for an individual to do it like they do, but this situation has motivated me to relook at my password safe, Duo Mobile accounts and a few other things.

  • Think hard about asking for people's mobile phone numbers. If you do it, don't 'explain' it with weasel words like Discord has done. Yeah yeah, I'm not paying $$ to use Discord, therefore they want me to pay with my personal data. I get that. I say no.

  

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