I’ve just recently returned from REcon 2012 and while I heard a couple people express that they had “heard” that some people were more disappointed with this year’s conference compared to prior ones, I personally really enjoyed it and felt it was the best one yet. I saw and enjoyed more of the lectures this year than I have in the past and seemed to have better interactions with the other conference attendees, better conversations, and generally enjoyed myself more than years past. Perhaps it was because this year Montreal wasn’t in the middle of a heat wave with no air conditioning in the hotel and the conference hotel didn’t catch fire (:
Archive for the ‘security research’ Category
Yes, that’s right… After many, many years of wanting to attend this conference, I finally made it. CanSecWest has been heralded as one of the best, top-quality security conferences that you can attend, and while I actually made it across the pond a few years ago to speak at EUSecWest, the logistics for getting up to CanSecWest just never worked out for me… until this year.
After a two year absence due to unavoidable other obligations like good friends’ weddings, I finally made it back to one of my favorite hacker conferences, Toorcon. San Diego is always beautiful when I happen to be there with nice weather and a cool mix of people, both locals and visitors who are there for the conference, and this year was no exception.
This last weekend I took a trip up to Montreal for REcon. If you’re unfamiliar with REcon, it’s a small security conference focused on topics most interesting to reverse engineers. As such, the talks are more technical than you will find at other more mainstream conferences like BlackHat or DEFCON, and generally require a certain level of expertise as a baseline. If you don’t understand assembly language, you’ll probably not get much out of at least half of the lectures.
Taking place over the last week was the CanSecWest 2010 security conference, with their now annual Pwn2Own contest. For those that are unfamiliar, the Pwn2Own contest presents a number of devices usually consisting of mobile or cellular devices and laptops as targets and allows contestants to attempt to compromise them in some way. These targets are patched up through the most recent vendor patches, and if a contestant is able to Pwn (compromise) the device, they get to Own (keep) it. This is always a nice publicity stunt as the contest is widely publicized by it’s sponsor, providing researchers with some fame and a prize as a bit of a return on their invested effort researching vulnerabilities and developing exploits. The Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) who sponsors the contest also offers to buy the vulnerabilities used by the winners and “responsibly disclose” them to the affected vendors, providing a bit of a cash incentive as well.
Over the past few years however, some things have drastically changed in the value and marketability of such vulnerabilities.
After staying with some of my local Vegas friends during BlackHat, I went over and checked into the Riviera for DEFCON 17 on Thursday afternoon. After dropping my bags in my room and getting my temporary paper badge because they were already out of the electronic badges, I ran back up to my room for a bit and then headed over to the Microsoft party which I already wrote about in my BlackHat USA 2009 post. After an extremely long night I crashed in the early morning and slept through most of the first day of DEFCON talks. I did however catch Richard Thieme’s talk about UFOlogy, which was one of the talks I really wanted to see.
Shortly after Richard’s talk and some discussion with friends about what to do for dinner, I started not feeling well so I went back up to my room. After an hour or two I knew I really was sick because I started getting the fever sweats, cold chills, and headache, so I ordered some room service since I probably needed to eat, called it a night and went to sleep. I stayed in bed pretty much all day Saturday and only came downstairs once in the afternoon during the conference to speak during the Metasploit track, and then went right back upstairs to my room. By then I had a horrible cough and chest congestion, but was feeling much better regardless, so I decided to take a walk for a couple hours and let the dry desert air into my lungs for a bit.
I hadn’t yet walked the length of the Strip this visit, and also hadn’t eaten a FatBurger, both of which are personal Vegas traditions. Since I was running out of days in Vegas during which to accomplish these, I decided to walk from the Riviera up on the North end of the Strip all the way down to FatBurger which is near the South end of the strip, get a burger, and then walk back, which took around 2.5 hours and immensely helped my lungs and cough.
By the time I got back to the Riviera, I was feeling well enough to attend some parties, so I went up to the Penthouse for a while to check out the IOActive Freak Show party for a bit. It was similar to last year’s party, but had some new attractions so that wasn’t too bad. I tried to dance for a bit but my chest cold was severely holding me back since I could only dance for a few minutes before not being able to breathe. I left that party shortly after Keith went on since I couldn’t really dance and he started off with tracks that were a little too glitchy for my taste anyhow. Unfortunately I missed the fire dancer at the IOActive party who had a fire hoop like my friend Angi’s, but living in Austin surrounded by burners I think I’m a bit spoiled regarding fire spinning/dancing/performance anyhow. After leaving the Penthouse I took the Ninja Shuttle over to the Ninja Party and hung out there for a few hours talking to friends and waiting in line at the bar until I decided not to push my recent health luck and went back to my room at the Riviera and went to sleep.
On Sunday I slept a little late still trying to fully recover until I needed to check out of my room. Unfortunately this meant that I missed Richard Thieme’s other talk on BioHacking, but I did manage to catch a few more of the talks before I had to head to the airport to catch my plane back to Austin. You can read my thoughts on the talks that I saw below:
Last week and through the weekend I was in Las Vegas for this year’s annual block of hacker conferences, BlackHat USA and DEFCON. This year was a bit different for me as my employer no longer covers conference expenses (even if you’re speaking!), so since I was there not representing a company and entirely on my own dime, I stayed with some local friends for the first half of my stay and did a lot less gambling… none actually. My gracious hosts did a lot of ferrying me around for the first half of my stay as well to help me avoid cab fares.
One of the highlights of BlackHat was obviously the Pwnie Awards. This industry awards ceremony, highlighting the successes and failures of the security industry of the past year, has quickly become one of my favorite parts of BlackHat. If you’re interested, you can find this year’s nominees and winners listed over at the Pwnie Awards website. The impromptu dinner afterward was very enjoyable as well, where I shared a meal with the likes of the lovely Shyama Rose, that beef-hunk (nsfw) Alex Sotirov, Pusscat, who needs no introduction, the code machine I call a boss, HD Moore, some d00d from Rhode Island, slow, and a slew of other interesting and intelligent people.
I didn’t make it to many parties this year, but one of the few BlackHat parties that I did make it to was the Microsoft party over at Treasure Island. An awesome mix of people made for some good conversations, but the music indoors was horrible… The DJ was playing all kinds of early-90’s tunes like Bel Biv Devoe, Boys II Men, etc. Outside the music was much better (house!) except that the DJ kept having to stop the music for any number of reasons, the longest of which being the Pirate show going off just outside the balcony on the waterfront between the club and the street.
Overall BlackHat was a fairly enjoyable experience. I would have liked to have seen more of the presentations but due to an extremely late night Wednesday night culminating in my friend locking himself out of his hotel suite, soaking wet, in his boxers, I ended up sleeping late on Thursday and then attempted to get over to DEFCON early to get registered and get one of the electronic badges to play with. You can however read my thoughts on the various presentations I did see below:
A number of years ago, Microsoft led the charge by moving away from a dynamic patch release schedule to a monthly patch release schedule, essentially creating an imposed monthly patch cycle for their customers. Since then, many other vendors have followed suit. There are opinions and arguments supporting both a release schedule philosophy as well as a release upon completion philosophy, and today I’m going to outline where I stand on the issue.
DEFCON is always entertaining as it’s the largest hacker conference in North America. Back to back with it’s corporate counterpart, Black Hat, it generally draws thousands of hacker-type people to Las Vegas every summer. The related parties, shenanigans, and drama surrounding it are legendary, and this year was no different.
Below are my thoughts on the talks I was able to attend.
Recently the OSVDB Blog had an interesting article regarding vulnerability duplication via the “hazard of 0day” wherein a vulnerability being exploited in the wild was mistaken for a new vulnerability when in fact it was not. This caused many of the vulnerability database vendors to issue new IDs, send out threat warnings, bring in the livestock from the impending storm, and so forth. The resulting fallout from realization that it in fact was not a new vulnerability ranged in varying degrees between one vendor’s complete backtrack and removal of the vulnerability from their database to another vendor’s nearly ignoring the mistake altogether.
While this is definitely a serious problem, resulting in various degrees of erroneous or duplicated vulnerability information, it’s not nearly as bad as the real topic of this post, intentional vulnerability duplication.