Aug 052013


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

Read more . . . 

via Tech Crunch – JON EVANS

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