There’s nothing like attendance at the annual Black Hat and Def Con security/hacker conferences to hike your paranoia into the red zone and keep it there forever.
You come away with the sense that nothing, anywhere, ever, is safe–and that’s just from talks given by people willing to publicize their work. Compared to the secret legions of the NSA and other governments’ equivalents, and invisible armies of mercenary black-hats selling zero-dayexploits to the highest bidder, Def Con may well only be the iceberg’s tip.
What follows is a brief and highly subjective summary of the talks that people seemed to be talking about most, and/or the ones I found most interesting:
A seriously ill wind blows some good news for BlackBerry
Alex Stamos warned the world of a potential Cryptopocalypse: the RSA encryption algorithm, which is “by far the most widely used public-key cryptosystem in the world,” may be killed by mathwithin the next five years, along with the standard Diffie-Hellman key-exchange protocol. A viable alternative is available — but guess what? Many of its crucial patents are owned by none other than everyone’s favorite crippled dinosaur, BlackBerry.
HTTPS isn’t really so S
Even if some bright mathematician doesn’t destroy online security as we know it, HTTPS still has plenty of other vulnerabilities. The BREACH exploit can use a vulnerability in compression algorithms to pluck email addresses and other data from encrypted connections. A fake termination of a TLS session (note to power users; what you’ve been calling SSL has probably really been TLS for some time now) can lead to the hijacking of a Gmail session (for five minutes) or an Outlook one (for much longer.) Oh, yeah, and client-side TLS sessions appear to be vulnerable too.
The secret computer inside your phone
There are more than 7 billion SIM cards out there, including, probably, the one in yours. Did you know that each one is a tiny little computer in its own right, is under the complete control of your carrier, and can cause phones to make and receive calls, send and receive SMSes, open up URLs, and many other actions? Karl Koscher and Eric Butler (the creator of Firesheep) walked their audience through a great software-archaeology talk on how to program these quasi-obsolete but ubiquitous devices…which is particularly relevant in light of Karsten Nohl’s talk on how approximately 1/4 of all SIM cards in existence can be exploited via a serious security flaw.
CDMA phone? No SIM card! You’re…totally not safe either. Sorry.
Your home is not your castle
The Latest on: Def Con
Commentary: Will 2018 Be A Democratic Year For Ohio?
on June 20, 2018 at 2:17 am
Yes. Yes, they do. They can read the tea leaves and they are no fools. The GOP hasn’t declared DEFCON 2 (high readiness), or even DEFCON 3 (readiness increased above normal), but you can rest assured that what has been happening on the Democratic side ... […]
Can #MeToo Change the Toxic Culture of Sexism and Harassment at Cybersecurity Conferences?
on June 19, 2018 at 4:00 am
The Intercept spoke to nearly two dozen women across the industry who recounted experiences ranging from uncomfortable to traumatic at conferences such as Def Con and Black Hat, held each year in Las Vegas, and RSA, held worldwide. The women who spoke to ... […]
The U.S.-Canada Trade War's Collateral Damage: The U.S. Defense Industrial Base
on June 18, 2018 at 9:08 pm
A tweetstorm from the tarmac of the Quebec "G-6+1" summit has escalated the U.S.-Canada trade war to a new level, and the snark since then from both sides of the border seems headed for DefCon 1. Thus far, the focus has been on U.S.-imposed trade tariffs ... […]
DEFCON Play Modes Details Released
on May 25, 2018 at 5:00 pm
To be released on June 15th in a boxed version Introversion Software today released details on the DEFCON's play modes, the dingle-player, the multiplayer and the office mode. Players assume the role of a General hidden deep within an underground bunker ... […]
Awesome DEFCON 26 Flying Quad Copter Skull Badge
on May 24, 2018 at 2:19 am
Anyone attending this year’s DEFCON 26 hacking conference which will take place from August 9th -12th, 2018 and is searching for an appropriate badge may be interested in this awesome DEFCON 26 flying electronic quad-copter badge created by b1un7. […]
Def Con War Zone kicks off their haunted house laser tag on Friday the 13th
on April 12, 2018 at 6:09 pm
If you're a thrill-seeker and love getting scared, why wait until Halloween when you can experience several jump scares in April? Billy Pon is a filmmaker and what he calls, a "hauntrepeneaur." "I was always into the VHS revolution and back then, your moms ... […]
Salesforce “red team” members present tool at Defcon, get fired
on August 10, 2017 at 11:31 pm
At Defcon in Las Vegas last month, word rapidly spread that two speakers—members of Salesforce's internal "red team"—had been fired by a senior executive from Salesforce "as they left the stage." Those two speakers, who presented under their Twitter ... […]
DEF CON's vote-hacking village made us think twice about election security
on August 2, 2017 at 4:58 am
A motley assortment of hackers walk into a room packed full of voting machines. You can guess what happened next. In many ways, the 25th Annual DEF CON went down like those that preceded it. Over the weekend, 25,000 hackers, cybersecurity professionals ... […]
The U.S. Army is teaching kids how to hack at DEF CON
on July 29, 2017 at 3:34 pm
At DEF CON, anyone can learn to hack -- toddlers included. In a packed room at one of the largest hacking conferences in the world, kids are learning how to hack everything from door locks to computer games to hardware. They're participating in the r00tz ... […]
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