About René Pfeiffer

System administrator, lecturer, hacker, security consultant, technical writer and DeepSec organisation team member. Has done some particle physics, too. Prefers encrypted messages for the sake of admiring the mathematical algorithms at work.

Scuttlebutt – Summer in the city, reviews, and more security content

René Pfeiffer/ August 22, 2021/ Scuttlebutt/ 0 comments

Dear readers, gossip has been a bit rare in the past weeks. This was because of the intense summer heat here in Vienna. The opposite of the chill factor made working in the hot city extremely difficult. Additionally, we tackled dealing with backend archaeology. A part of our internal application for managing the call for papers, the reviews, and the schedule celebrates its 10th birthday. I like code that runs smoothly despite platform updates, but now is the time for some changes. And no, we do not expose the code to the Internet. You can stop looking for it. 😉 We just finished the major part of reviews of the submissions. It always takes a while, given that we start with the final review in August. Contacting people during Summer adds extra round trip

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Breaking News: DeepSec preliminary Schedule available, some Reviews still continue, all Hardware & Software is still not completely safe to use

René Pfeiffer/ August 20, 2021/ Conference, Schedule/ 0 comments

We confess. Our review cycle was interrupted by a week of holiday. Our team takes turns before the fourth wave breaks. We will keep watching the regulations for travel and our conference hotel. This being said, the schedule for DeepSec 2021 is ready and is published on our web site. 🥳 The contributions from our speakers and trainers look very promising. We tried to select the submissions according to a mix of technical details, academic research, ways to improve your defence, and details of attack techniques which might be deployed against your organisation. The trainings cover a wide range of topics from attacks on modern desktops app, fallacies of mobile networks, penetration testing of industrial control systems, breaking single sign-on systems, and dealing with threats and defence. We hope to offer you in-depth knowledge

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Thanks for your submission! We are working on final reviews.

René Pfeiffer/ August 2, 2021/ Conference/ 0 comments

In the past months we kept blogging about various issues in information security and news regarding our event in November. The Summer months are hard on the process of following news with articles. A lot of things happen, and software still has security-relevant bugs. It’s just that fewer people (than usual) care. We care, and therefore we will complete the reviews of your submissions. The preliminary schedule will be published soon. Thanks for taking your time! We appreciate your contributions. You have made the reviews very hard, as every year. 😉 If you still have some ideas, feel free to submit them!

Reminder +++ DeepSec and DeepINTEL 2021 Call for Papers +++ Reminder

René Pfeiffer/ July 27, 2021/ Conference/ 0 comments

The call for papers of DeepSec and DeepINTEL 2021 have their first deadline on 31 July 2021. Use the remaining days to send us your idea for your presentation. We are interested in your research, your ideas, and your reports about new threats. If you can’t find the time for writing your submission in the scorching heat, let the Pegasus malware take care of your personal communication for a while. We passed on the opportunity to write about surveillance gone out of control, because we wrote about security failures regularly since 2007. That being said, the Pegasus malware is of course a hot topic for DeepINTEL. High-powered and unchecked surveillance software can do a lot of damage to businesses and national security. Code has a significant impact on society and politics alike. Let’s hear

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Secure Communication as an endangered Species

René Pfeiffer/ July 20, 2021/ Conference/ 0 comments

Communication is a vital part of modern life and business processes around the world. The rise of the Internet has put sending and receiving information at the centre of most activities. Anyone who has access to personal messages can use them to a significant advantage. Messengers live on billions of smartphones around the world. A compromised telephone opens the door to a treasure trove of highly valuable data. Welcome to the world of information warfare! Repeatedly we issued press articles covering broken secure communication and backdoors to devices. The most recent publications cover the initiative of the German government for mandatory security vulnerabilities in digital infrastructure. Information security cannot distinguish between the purpose of how technology is used. Especially the integrity of computer systems is either preserved or destroyed. There is no middle ground.

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2021 – The Year of the Supply Chain

René Pfeiffer/ July 8, 2021/ Conference/ 0 comments

Logistics and supplies are the fuel that keeps modern society rolling. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that delivery of goods, medical supplies, and work place administration is a part of our daily lives. The container ship Ever Given blocking the Suez Canal serves as an illustration of how important these lifelines are. Even the digital world is based on supply chains. The computer you use receives updates regularly. Chances are high that you even have some data in online platforms (a.k.a. The Cloud™) somewhere. Thinking in terms of information security, these dependencies are a natural target for attackers. Swedish supermarket customers currently suffer from a digital attack on the US-American company Kaseya. The company develops software for managing IT infrastructure. The REvil malware hit them and disabled clients using the VSA remote managing software

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Reminder: DeepSec and DeepINTEL 2021 Call for Papers is still open!

René Pfeiffer/ July 6, 2021/ Conference/ 0 comments

The year 2021 features some milestone anniversaries. Some of these anniversaries are tragedies. Others are milestones for change. A lot of them affect the world of information security. Technologies come and go, because more often than not we find better solutions. Implementations mature. Some don’t. So let’s take the anniversary of the RSA SecureID faux pas and combine it with the deleted tweet suggesting to replace TCP/IP with Something Based On Blockchain™. In order to grow and develop better applications, we should strife to improve how we approach the challenges of information security. Here is how we will do this. Read on. The DeepSec and DeepINTEL 2021 call for papers are still open. If you have in-depth content or have some observations to share, please submit your ideas! DeepSec is a 100% blockchain-free zone,

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Deadline for Scholarship Program extended until 31 July 2021

René Pfeiffer/ June 18, 2021/ Conference/ 0 comments

Being curious is the first step of answering a question. DeepSec has a long history of pushing the results of research on a public stage. Information security is a branch of computer science. Therefore, the scientific approach is the best way to tackle digital security. Past conferences have featured presentations about the work of dedicated groups of curious people. Now it’s your turn to get some extra support for your project. We have extended the deadline for the DeepSec scholarship program until the end of July 2021. We felt that having some extra time is never a bad idea. So if you have an idea for a research project, please let us know. Drop us an email or a message in a bottle.

First DeepSec 2021 Trainings published

René Pfeiffer/ May 12, 2021/ Conference, Training/ 0 comments

We dug through the submissions and selected trainings for the preliminary schedule. It’s just the trainings, and the intention is to give you some information for planning the rest of the year. We intend the trainings to be on site at the conference hotel. We will also explore ways to offer a virtual training or to attend the course virtually. The topics range from attacking modern desktop applications, in-depth network security (mobile networks and traffic analysis), penetration testing industrial control systems over to how to break and secure single-sign on systems. The entire collection of content aims to educate your IT department and your development team regarding the current state of affairs in companies with employees connected in home office. All technologies and tools are vital parts of the workplace. We included attacking industrial

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ROOTS 2021 – Call for Papers

René Pfeiffer/ May 10, 2021/ Conference/ 0 comments

The Reversing and Offensive-oriented Trends Symposium, an academic workshop, is again co-located with the DeepSec conference in its fifth year. ROOTS solicits contributions that focus on theorems and root shells: In security, two things you absolutely cannot argue with. Security is hard to define. Most often, security is defined by its absence. For scientists, this is particularly unsatisfactory. A lack of definition increases the difficulty to find suitable quantitive and qualitative models. Even though the overall landscape is blurry at best; exploitation, reverse engineering, and offensive techniques have their place. ROOTS aims to explore this territory. The first European symposium of its kind, ROOTS aims to provide an industry-friendly academic platform to discuss trends in exploitation, reversing, offensive techniques, and effective protections. Submissions should provide novel attack forms, describe novel reversing techniques, or effective

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Export of Blog Articles on Medium

René Pfeiffer/ May 1, 2021/ Administrivia/ 0 comments

The Internet was invented for sharing information. Publishing articles and raw data is still the main use case for networks. We use our blog for publishing articles covering topics of information security. It is the primary source of information. Article publications will be announced on our Twitter feed once the text is online. A while ago we started to publish our blog articles on Medium in parallel. The publication pipeline broken when Medium stopped supporting the plugin for our blog application. Re-publishing has since been done manually (hence the backlog on Medium). We occasionally update our Medium channel. Now this channel has a new link. If you prefer to read our articles on Medium, please use https://deepsec.medium.com/. Keep in mind that our blog articles published here will never hide behind a paywall or a

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Project Covert Operations and Zero Days – Controlled Compromise of Infrastructure and Code

René Pfeiffer/ April 21, 2021/ Discussion, High Entropy, Security/ 0 comments

Once you collect information, you will eventually have to decide on when to use which part for what reason. This is the dilemma of intercepting intelligence from an adversary and using it for defence (or offence). Once you act on your the knowledge no one else is supposed to have, then you will also disclose your capabilities. The digital world is full of these scenarios. The most recent case is a disclosure of Google’s Project Zero. The publication covered vulnerabilities dating back to the first half of 2020. As it turned out the discovery comprised 11 powerful weaknesses used to compromise iOS, Android and Microsoft® Windows devices. By publishing these vulnerabilities Project Zero essentially shut down a nine-month digital hacking operation by a Western government. Bugs in software have no labels. They may be

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DeepSec, ROOTS and DeepINTEL Update – Call for Papers open

René Pfeiffer/ April 19, 2021/ Administrivia, Call for Papers, Conference, DeepIntel/ 0 comments

Planning events is still challenging. The COVID-19 pandemic celebrated its first birthday. Despite efforts not to have the second birthday of the pandemic, the ever changing regulations and statues updates regarding the infections make preparations for conferences very hard. We know you want to plan as well, therefore we have an update for you. DeepSec, ROOTS, and DeepINTEL will happen on-site here in Vienna. We closely coordinate with our conference hotel. Their staff is eager to reopen. Everything depends on the rate of vaccination and the regulations issued by the European and Austrian authorities. There is not much we can influence. Given our health protection measure we worked out last year, we are well prepared to handle everything short of a total lockdown. We don’t do any forecasts at the moment. The next months

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Software Architecture, Code, and Information Security

René Pfeiffer/ April 8, 2021/ Conference/ 0 comments

Information security is tightly linked with the code running on platforms and decisions made during the software architecture planning phase. One can trace a lot of results in penetration tests to workarounds caused by inadequate tools, bad design choices, trends in software development, legacy applications, and too optimistic testing strategies. Let’s visit some of the accident sites by example. Implementing the basic principles of information security can be hard. The dreaded undefined behaviour or the lack of graceful failures in error conditions happens frequently. A recent presentation about autonomous systems illustrates what we expected from your code – it must be completely self-reliant. Doing n restarts and halting is not the best way of dealing with unexpected situations. Rejecting dangerous states and input is always an option, but sysadmins frequently need to bash applications

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All your Content are belong to Us – how the Crypto Wars continue

René Pfeiffer/ March 31, 2021/ Discussion, High Entropy, Internet, Legal/ 0 comments

Encryption is one of our favourite topics. This blog and our events feature discussions, tools, and content regarding cryptography. The first DeepSec conference in 2007 even had a presentation about a practical attack on GSM’s A5/1 algorithm. Subsequent conferences followed up on this, for example, the state of affairs of mobile network security in 2010. We use encryption and high levels of privacy in our own communication. Certain published documents emphasize the importance of using uncompromised and modern encryption algorithms. In the meantime, users have moved to messengers using TCP/IP on top of the mobile network transmissions. This enables full end-to-end encryption and privacy. The problems are still the same as in the 1990s. Enter the continuation of the Crypto Wars. On 23 March the Oberlandesgericht (Higher Regional Court) Rostock in Germany argued that

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