What is a Hacker Tool and how do you ban it?

René Pfeiffer/ April 25, 2012/ Discussion, Internet, Stories

What exactly is a hacker tool? The answer to this question depends on who you ask. To McGyver it would probably everything, to a hacker it would be any suitable tool and to a politician it would be anything that cannot be easily understood. The English Wikipedia has no entry on hacker tool. So what is it and why should we care? Care comes first. We have to care because the European Union is working on banning hacking tools. This is no news for some parts of Europe. Germany has tried to address the nebulous hacking tools issue in 2007. The law has drawn a lot of critic from security researchers. Some even moved their research abroad to avoid operating in a grey area of the law. There’s an open letter to the German

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Let’s talk about War

René Pfeiffer/ April 17, 2012/ Discussion, High Entropy, Stories

Extreme situations, entropy eruptions and unforeseen problems caused by complex interactions between a plethora of components are prime story material. You can use it in (science) fiction, you can use for breaking news, you can use it for scaring your children, you can use it for advertising and you can use it when talking about information security. Maybe this is why talking about „cyberwar“ is all the fashion these days. Let’s follow the trend and introduce the issue with style: No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There’s always a boom tomorrow. What? Look, somebody’s got to have some damn perspective around here! Boom. Sooner or later. BOOM! — Lt. Cmdr. Susan Ivanova, Babylon 5 This statement from a fictional character pretty much sums up the issue (plus it contains exactly the required amount of sources

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Pattern, Matching and IT Folklore

René Pfeiffer/ April 15, 2012/ Discussion, High Entropy, Security

Every once in a while there is a lively discussion about the efficiency of pattern-based security measures. Usually you see these discussions in the wake of security software tests. Mostly it concerns intrusion detection, malware filter or spam filter tools. As soon as you are trying to implement filters or detection, you will need some criteria to base decisions on. It doesn’t matter if you apply whitelisting, blacklisting or a mixture of both. Even if you add some intricate algorithms ranging from good ideas to artificial intelligence you still need to base the decision on something. Patterns and signatures is still the way to go. So why do these discussion about „all methods using patterns/signatures are snake oil“ stem from? Let’s take another pattern-based defence mechanism as an example – our immune systems. It

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Simple Questions, Security Design, Details and Assumptions

René Pfeiffer/ April 3, 2012/ Security, Stories

A few days ago we received a call from a journalist who was researching for an article about a system about parking place management. Motorists have a hard time finding a place to park in busy urban areas. This is why Austrian researchers thought of fitting street lamps with cameras that monitor parking areas. The cameras report the images to a system that identifies free parking sites and reports available spots to drivers by means of their satnav. The journalist wanted to know how safe this is and if there might be a threat to privacy. The answer is not that easy. In this context it typically resolves to the style of Radio Yerevan and starts with „In principle yes, but …“. In our case it depends on the details of the implementation. Brevity

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DeepSec 365 Conference Track and Disinformation

René Pfeiffer/ April 2, 2012/ Misc, Stories

We admit. We could not resist. Bazinga! Writing articles to be published on 1 April is fun, and you probably should not read any news on this day (or blog articles or anything, don’t even talk to people until 2 April). If you consider the disinformation practised on All Fools’ Day and connect it to security the fun stops. You rely on information and its accuracy to counter threats. So in turn disinformation can be regarded as a hacker tool. Social engineering people probably know this already. Since our CfPs for DeepINTEL and DeepSec 2012 are open: If you explore disinformation as a hacker tool and can show its impact on the security routine of potential targets/defenders, why not turn your findings into a presentation and send it to us? We want to know

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DeepSec Announces DeepSec 365 Conference Track

René Pfeiffer/ April 1, 2012/ Administrivia, Conference, High Entropy

IT security has grown into a cornerstone of our modern society. We rely on data integrity, availability, and we do not wish our personal or business data to be mirrored on pastebin.com or other web sites. 2011 has been full of high-profile security-related incidents. 2012 will most certainly continue in this fashion. This cannot go on forever. Therefore we decided to address the lack of IT security conferences and boost their number considerably. Starting with 1 January 2013 we start the DeepSec 365 Conference Track – 365 DeepSec security conferences in 2013, one every day! We are currently finalising the deal with our conference venue. Even the tourism industry has acknowledged that there really is nothing besides hosting IT security events. Forget skiing, spas, clubbing, museums, sightseeing and all that, you want to see

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