Archive for the ‘security research’ Category

Padding the Numbers: Vulnerability Duplication

June 26, 2008

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.



ToorCon Seattle 2008

April 22, 2008

The ToorCon organization puts on some of the best conferences in my opinion, and this last weekend was version 1.0 of their Seattle conference (beta was last year, which I also attended). Friday night was entirely 5-minute lightning talks and then Saturday was entirely 20-minute turbo talks. Sunday was workshops, which unfortunately I could not attend since I had to fly back to Austin mid-day. Last year was invite only and if you were there last year you received a coupon code for a discounted rate this year ($300), otherwise it was a little expensive to attend ($1000). Overall there were a number of excellent speakers with excellent content.

Due to the sheer number of talks (and I did see all of them), I’ll only cover the ones I found most interesting below:


Context-keyed Payload Encoding Whitepaper

January 28, 2008

Today, my research paper entitled “Context-keyed Payload Encoding” was published in Uninformed Journal vol. 9. If you’re into cutting-edge exploitation technology, you should check it out. This is the research I presented at ToorCon 9 last October.


November 13, 2007

My second Microsoft Patch Tuesday at the new employer was fairly uneventful. This Tuesday there was only one patch rated critical, MS07-061, and as it turns out it was the bug that I had already worked on last week. Essentially all I had to do was update my strikes from last week with the new reference and rename them, and our team was essentially done. You can read the details about the patched vulnerability over at the BreakingPoint BreakingPoint blog.

CSI 2007

November 8, 2007

CSI 2007 was the first time I’ve ever attended a CSI conference. I was actually a CSI member way back in the day when I was running my own consulting firm and needed as many business development avenues to explore as possible, but after closing my consultancy and going back to work for The Man(tm) I didn’t keep up my membership as I really wasn’t getting much out of the organization at that point. For some reason I had never attended any of their conferences. The CSI Annual Conference is billed as “The leading management, strategy and policy event for today’s security professionals”, so it’s a very different conference from what I’m used to. While I generally attend the more technical events, this one was targeted at an entirely different demographic. There was a lot of large enterprise and government presence, and I got plenty of scowls as people noticed my green hair, but in the end I believe I won most of them over…

The evening of my talk there was also a Capture the Flag game. Unfortunately I wasn’t aware of this until I ran into Dave Aitel that evening and he told me about it, or I would have had my laptop with me and been prepared to compete. This game was essentially a race through various goals with clues and hints along the way. The guy that won achieved the final goal at just under 2 hours. One potential vulnerability that I pointed out to the event organizers was that most of the information was given away to the audience in the observation room near the start of the competition, and had the competition not been 3 floors underground where there was no cellular signal, I could have easily relayed the information to Dave’s mobile via SMS or AIM or something. Had we had some other form of local wireless communication, cheating would have been trivial. Perhaps next time they’ll not give away so much information at the beginning to the audience…

Below are my thoughts on the couple of talks I was able to attend. Unfortunately I was only there for the one day that I was speaking and I was busy preparing to speak and recording a shorter version of my talk to actually attend many of them.


ToorCon 9

October 23, 2007

ToorCon is always one of my favorite conferences of the year, and this year was no different. Actually, I take that back, it WAS different, it was even better than usual. I got something out of almost every talk that I attended, and the conference ran very smoothly. The conference is small and intimate and the speaker badges are green… I really can’t ask for much more. This year the conference was split between the two days; the first day being traditional hour-long presentations whereas the second day took the cue from ToorCon Seattle (beta) and was entirely 20-minute turbo talks. I thought the conference format worked out really really well and provided a much larger breadth of subject-matter than would normally have been possible with entirely traditional-length talks.

Below are my thoughts on the various talks I attended.



October 15, 2007

Last week was Microsoft Patch Tuesday, and for once it actually affected me directly. The team I am part of at my new employer is responsible for reversing out patches such as these, determining the vulnerability that was patched, and developing ways to exploit or otherwise attack the software. From the advisories that were released, I ended up with ms07-055 which detailed a stack overflow in the Kodak Image Viewer which was used as the default image handling application on Windows 2000 systems. After spending most of Tuesday setting up VMWare and installing some tools like IDA Pro and BinDiff, I was able to get started.


New Employer: BreakingPoint Systems

October 1, 2007

Today I stepped into a new role as a Security Researcher for BreakingPoint Systems. I will be working with the team that handles the security component of the flagship product, the BPS-1000, which is a load and security testing appliance used to test network devices such as switches, firewalls, and the types of products my previous employer produces, Intrusion Prevention (or Detection) Systems. For the most part I’ll be developing “strikes”, which are essentially attacks and exploits packaged in such a way that the product can launch them and verify whether or not the device under test has properly blocked or otherwise handled the offensive traffic. It’s a welcome change to move over to the offensive side of the game again, which is really where I’m most comfortable.

Speaking at ToorCon 9

September 24, 2007

I’ve been invited to speak at ToorCon 9 in San Diego next month. My topic will be Context-keyed Payload Encoding in which I introduce a new method of keying an encoder which is based entirely on contextual information that is predictable or known about the target by the attacker and constructible or recoverable by the decoder stub when executed at the target. An active observer of the attack traffic, however, should be unable to decode the payload due to lack of the contextual keying information.

Real-time Steganography with RTP Video

September 21, 2007

Apparently, some guy purchased video of all of the DEFCON 15 talks on DVD, then ripped them all to MP4 and uploaded them to Google Video. If you couldn’t make DEFCON this year and wanted to see my talk, or don’t have the patience to read the 50 page paper but have about an hour to watch a video, you should check it out.