Detecting login credentials abuse

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Published on 2009-11-18T07:22:31Z Indexed on 2010/12/25 14:55 UTC
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I am the webmaster for a small, growing industrial association. Soon, I will have to implement a restricted, members-only section for the website.

The problem is that our organization membership both includes big companies as well as amateur “clubs” (it's a relatively new industry…).

It is clear that those clubs will share the login ID they will use to log onto our website. The problem is to detect whether one of their members will share the login credentials with people who would not normally supposed to be accessing the website (there is no objection for such a club to have all it’s members get on the website).

I have thought about logging along with each sign-on the IP address as well as the OS and the browser used; if the OS/Browser stays constant and there are no more than, say, 10 different IP addresses, the account is clearly used by very few different computers.

But if there are 50 OS/Browser combination and 150 different IPs, the credentials have obviously been disseminated far, and there would be then cause for action, such as modifying the password.

Of course, it is extremely annoying when your password is being unilaterally changed. So, for this problem, I thought about allowing the “clubs” to manage their own list of sub-accounts, and therefore if abuse is suspected, the user responsible would be easily pinned-down, and this “sub-member” alone would face the annoyance of a password change.

Question: What potential problems would anyone see with such an approach?

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