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Archive for August, 2007

The Information Security Industry is like the War on Drugs

August 27, 2007

After reading this article regarding the state of the IDS/IPS market and how IDS systems still and will likely have their niche, I was reminded of the common problem that plagues both Information Security and the War on Drugs; the majority of the focus is on detection and policing rather than on prevention and treatment, the former of which is usually an expensive, time-consuming, and futile battle.

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DEFCON 15

August 9, 2007

DEFCON 15, in their second year at the Riviera, seemed a little more settled than the turbulent vibe from last year. Unfortunately DEFCON already seems to be outgrowing this space as a couple of the talks I wanted to see were standing room only and attendees were spilling out into the halls.

The badge this year was a large rectangular PCB with the DEFCON logo parts down the left side and the letters “DEFCON” down the right side. In the center, oriented vertically, was a mini LED pixel display which was controlled by an on-board chip. In it’s default state, the display scrolled the text “I <heart> DEFCON”, however you could program the display through various sequences of pressing your fingers to the DEFCON logo parts down the left side. The badge this year was interesting, but it definitely had some quality issues. The controls to program the scrolling LED display were too easily triggered accidentally, causing most badges to be usually scrolling one of the menu texts instead of the custom message. Also, toward the end of the conference I was seeing a lot of the badges with stuck displays, only having a couple of random LED pixels lit up on them. The badges may have also been a little over-engineered as the instructional poem in the DEFCON book alluded to being able to solder on more components like an RF transceiver, an accelerometer, and potentially some other stuff. I identified at least three different places where you could add components to the badge. There was also WAY too much information about the badge in the DEFCON book such as what types of components you could add, where to get complete source code, how to debug it, etc. This seemed way more like being led down a path than actually being able to “hack” the badge.

Due to speaking this year and having a bunch of friends from DFW in town partying and gambling I didn’t really do the DEFCON social/party thing. I didn’t even have time to attempt Caezar’s Challenge, which from what I could tell merged this year with the Ninja Networks party since the challenge was on the back of the Ninja party pass. Oh well, the couple hundred bucks I made playing BlackJack and hanging out with my DFW friends was worth it.

Out of the presentations and events I attended, here’s my thoughts:

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BlackHat 2007

August 9, 2007

BlackHat Briefings 2007 was a bit disappointing this year. This year, the first day of briefings had an entire track devoted to Voice Services. Being the sole VoIP researcher for TippingPoint’s DVLabs, I of course attended this entire track. In short, three words: waste of time. Out of 5 talks on VoIP security, I learned one single new piece of information. At best, the content was the same old attacks against new or attention-starved targets. At worst, it was the same old attacks against the same old targets. In all honesty, if the BlackHat CFP review board had accepted the updated version of my VoIP Attacks! talk that I had submitted, 80% of the attacks shown in the VoIP Services track would have been covered by about 50% of my slides. Maybe not in as much detail, or against the same targets, but that’s kinda the point of my VoIP Attacks! talk; almost all the attacks I speak about work against most protocols or multiple targets, just with slightly different implementations. But then I guess that would have removed the need for an entire VoIP track, which I’m guessing they wanted to have since it’s a hot topic. Also, my RTP Steganography talk that was accepted to DEFCON rather than BlackHat would have been much more appropriate for this track than some of the talks they accepted. I’m not bitter though (:

The second day I saw the talks by the other DVLabs researchers which of course were excellent.

One thing that struck me this year was the names of the people speaking. For a conference that’s actually named BlackHat, there was only a single person speaking under their handle or nym. To me that speaks volumes about the type of content being presented versus the image that the conference is purporting. Also, identifying the number of speakers associated with the conference sponsors versus those that aren’t is an interesting exercise for anyone that cares to look into it. I think this conference is becoming way to corporate and is beginning to do it’s attendees a disservice. This probably stems from the fact that the conference was sold recently and is now managed by a corporate entity.

Here are my summaries of the presentations that I attended:

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