Secure Design – Combining Information Security with Software Development

René Pfeiffer/ February 5, 2020/ Discussion, High Entropy

Information security researchers usually see software fail. Sometimes they try to make software fail on purpose. The result is a bug description, also called vulnerability report in case the bug has a security impact. The the best case scenario this information reaches the software developers who in turn fix the problem. Then the cycle continues. This process is fun for the first iterations. After a while it gets boring. Even a while after that you ask yourself why integer overflow, injection attacks, and basic cross-anything is still an issue. Some bug classes are well over 40 years old. Polio is far older, and yet we got rid of it (mostly). What’s different in the field of software creation? The answers are simple, endless, and change depending on the current trend. Just as computing changed

Read More

Thoughts on Geopolitics and Information Security

René Pfeiffer/ July 12, 2019/ Call for Papers, DeepIntel, Discussion, High Entropy

Geopolitics is a rather small word for very complex interactions, strategies, tactics, and the planning (of lack thereof) of events. Reading about topics connected to it is probably familiar to you. Few news articles can do without touching geopolitic aspects. Since politics has less technological content for most people, the connection to information security may not be obvious. Malicious software such as Stuxnet/WannaCry has changed this. Due to the events connected to their outbreak (or attack) the motivations of national agendas on the international stage have created awareness. There is a lot more to explore which is not on the radar of most experts, even in the field of information security. The current trade wars have a major impact on technology and ultimately information security. When it comes to vendors there is a bias

Read More

Translated Article: Reporters Without Borders protest against planned Criminalization of Tor Servers

Sanna/ July 10, 2019/ Discussion, Press, Security

Reporter ohne Grenzen protestiert gegen geplante Kriminalisierung von Tor-Servern for netzpolitik.org by Markus Reuter [Note: netzpolitik.org is a German news portal covering the impact of a networked world on society and digital rights. They rely on donations and welcome your support. We translated this article for them, because we both like their work and use Tor on a daily basis.] With the new IT security law Interior Minister Horst Seehofer wants to criminalize the Tor network. That hurts the freedom of the press and the protection of sources. Opposition and Reporters Without Borders protest sharply against the plan. With the IT Security Act 2.0 the Federal Ministry of the Interior is planning to criminalize the operation of Tor servers. According to the draft, the person who “offers an internet-based service whose access and accessibility

Read More

Translated Article: EU Prosecutors call for Security Holes in 5G Standards

Sanna/ June 3, 2019/ Communication, Discussion, High Entropy, Security

EU-Strafverfolger fordern Sicherheitslücken in 5G-Standards for fm4 by Erich Moechel The telecoms are to be forced to align the technical design of their 5G networks with the monitoring needs of the police authorities. In addition, security holes in the 5G protocols are required to enable monitoring by IMSI catchers. Gilles de Kerchove, EU counter-terrorism coordinator, warns against the planned security standards for the new 5G mobile networks. The reason for this are neither network components of the Chinese manufacturer Huawei, nor technical defects. De Kerchove’s warnings are directed against the planned high degree of network security, according to an internal document of the EU Council of Ministers, available to ORF.at. These measures to protect against criminals as well as the planned 5G network architecture stand in the way of the installation of backdoors for

Read More

Use Handshake Data to create TLS Fingerprints

René Pfeiffer/ May 25, 2019/ Discussion, Security

While the whole world busily works on the next round of the Crypto Wars, the smart people work on actual information security. TLS has always been in the focus of inspection. Using on-the-fly generated certificates to look inside is a features of many gadgets and filter applications. Peeking at the data is moot if you control either the server or the client. If you have to break TLS on purpose (hopefully) inside your own network, you probably have to deal with software or system you cannot control. In this case TLS is the least of your security problems. Dealing with a lot of network traffic often uses a metadata approach in order not to process gigantic amounts of data. Enter TLS fingerprinting. The TLS handshake contains a lot of parameters such as version numbers,

Read More

The fine Art of Mentorship

René Pfeiffer/ March 8, 2019/ Discussion, Security

We will support the Rookie Track at BSidesLondon in 2019 again. This is a perfect way for rookies to get started on presenting at a conference. However it is much more – the stages before the presentation is held. Preparing for 15 minutes of talk will keep you busy for ten or twenty times the amount you spend presenting. It depends on the research you have to do, the illustrations you have to create, the code samples, the tests, and a lot more things that need to be sorted out. That’s not an easy task. But you do not have to do it alone. BSidesLondon is looking for rookies and mentors. If you have experience in IT security, being on stage for presentations, research, and preparing materials for workshops and talks, then you should

Read More

Translated Article: Campaign of the Spy Alliance “Five Eyes” against WhatsApp and Co

Sanna/ January 8, 2019/ Discussion, High Entropy, Security

Feldzug der Spionageallianz „Five Eyes“ gegen WhatsApp und Co for fm4 by Erich Moechel The current scattered news and reports on “encryption” belong together. The military secret services of the “Five Eyes” conduct a global campaign; in Australia they’ve already reached their first milestone. Every two years, around the same time, a campaign of the espionage alliance “Five Eyes” against encryption programs takes place. Unlike in 2016, the new campaign has reached its first goal in a flash. In early December, a bill was passed in the Australian Parliament obliging Internet companies to break up encrypted communications. The providers of Whatsapp, Snapchat, and Co are hereby required to build surveillance interfaces into their apps to give hidden access to the Australian law enforcement. In a parliamentary coup – without discussion or amendments – the “Assistance

Read More

Encryption, Ghosts, Backdoors, Interception, and Information Security

René Pfeiffer/ December 20, 2018/ Discussion, High Entropy

While talking about mobile network security we had a little chat about the things to come and to think about. Compromise of communication is a long time favourite. Hats of all colours need to examine metadata and data of messages. Communication is still king when it comes to threat analysis and intrusion detection. That’s nothing new. So someone pointed into the direction of an published article. Some of you may have read the article titled Principles for a More Informed Exceptional Access Debate written by GCHQ’s Ian Levy and Crispin Robinson. They describe GCHQs plan for getting into communication channels. Of course, “crypto for the masses” (yes, that’s crypto for cryptography, because you cannot pay your coffee with it) or “commodity, end-to-end encrypted services” are also mentioned. They explicitly claim that the goal is

Read More

DeepSec2018 Talk: Manipulating Human Memory for Fun and Profit – Stefan Schumacher

Sanna/ October 31, 2018/ Conference, Discussion

Manipulating the Human Memory for Fun and Profit, or: Why you’ve never met Bugs Bunny in DisneyLand Hacking is not limited to technical things — like using a coffee machine to cook a soup — but also makes use of social engineering. Social engineering is the (mis)use of human behaviour like fixed action patterns, reciprocity or commitment and consistency. Simple social engineering attacks like phishing mails do not require much preparation, but more complex ones do so. Especially when one wants to set up some kind of advanced persistent threat in the psychological domain. So, besides the psychological fundamentals of social engineering we also did research on human memory, how it works, how it pretty much fails to store what really happened, and how it can be misused for a sinister purpose. The fundamental

Read More

Translated RadioFM4 Article: Hype about “Chinese Espionage Chips” stems from the Pentagon

Sanna/ October 16, 2018/ Discussion, High Entropy, Press, Security

[Editor’s note: This article was originally published on the web site of the FM4 radio channel of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation. We have translated the text in order to make the content accessible for our English-speaking audience, because the author raises some important questions.] In the FM4 fact check the sensational report by the business portal Bloomberg about manipulated hardware for cloud computing turns out to be almost completely fact-free. On Friday a long-awaited report from the Pentagon was released warning about electronics manufacturing in China. by Erich Moechel for fm4.orf.at In the US, the “Cyber Security Month” October has begun, related news come thick and fast. The documentary presented on Thursday about a Russian espionage attack that failed miserably was spectacular, but had already taken place in April. England, Holland and Canada have waited

Read More

Translated Press Release: Systemic Errors as Vulnerabilities – Backdoors and Trojan Horses

René Pfeiffer/ October 9, 2018/ Conference, Discussion, Press, Security

DeepSec and Privacy Week highlight consequences of backdoors in IT Vienna (pts009/09.10.2018/09:15) – Ever since the first messages were sent, people try to intercept them. Today, our modern communication society writes more small, digital notes than one can read along. Everything is protected with methods of mathematics – encryption is omnipresent on the Internet. The state of security technology is the so-called end-to-end encryption, where only the communication partners have access to the conversation content or messages. Third parties can not read along, regardless of the situation. The introduction of this technology has led to a battle between security researchers, privacy advocates and investigators. Kick down doors with Horses In end-to-end encryption the keys to the messages, as well as the content itself, remain on the terminal devices involved in the conversation. This is

Read More

DeepSec 2018 Talk: Left of Boom – Brian Contos

Sanna/ September 13, 2018/ Conference, Discussion, Security

By Brian Contos, CISO of Verodin: “The idea for my presentation “Left of Boom” was based on conversations I was having with some of my co-workers at Verodin. Many people on our team are former military and some served in Iraq and Afghanistan where they engaged in anti-IED (Improvised Explosive Device) missions. During these conversations I first heard the term, Left of Boom, and the more we discussed it, the more I found similarities with cybersecurity. Left of Boom was made popular in 2007 in reference to the U.S. military combating improvised IED used by insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq. The U.S. military spent billions of dollars developing technology and tactics to prevent and detect IEDs before detonation, with a goal of disrupting the bomb chain. This is an analog to cybersecurity as we

Read More

DeepSec 2018 Talk: Can not See the Wood for the Trees – Too Many Security Standards for Automation Industry – Frank Ackermann

Sanna/ September 4, 2018/ Conference, Discussion, Security

“Plant operators and manufacturers are currently faced with many challenges in the field of automation.”, says Frank Ackermann. “Issues such as digitization, Industry 4.0, legal requirements or complex business processes that connect IT and OT are paramount. Related security problems and risks need to be addressed promptly and lastingly. Existing and newly created industry security standards (such as 62443, 61508 and 61511, 27001, …) are designed to help to improve security. But do the different approaches of these standards fit together? Are managers of the companies and manufacturers supported or rather confused by them? The presentation provides an overview of the key security industry standards, discusses the dependency and coverage of the standards, and aims to encourage discussion about if the standards optimize general security in industrial control systems.” We asked Frank a few

Read More

New in the DeepSec Ticket Shop: Tor Tickets for Early Birds and InfoSec Minds

René Pfeiffer/ July 17, 2018/ Administrivia, Discussion, High Entropy, Security

We have a new category in the DeepSec ticket shop. We now have Tor tickets! Why is that? Well, information security relies heavily on the tools of the trade and the knowledge to use them. Tools can be created and used, knowledge can be shared and used. This is not a new insight. The special Tor tickets are a way to help the German non-profit registered association Zwiebelfreunde e.V. for rebooting their infrastructure. They run Tor nodes and provide the necessary infrastructure to do this. Members of Zwiebelfreunde have been speakers at DeepSec in the past because they are also active security researchers. The difference between the Tor ticket and the normal ticket price will be given to them to recover the damage to their infrastructure. Security tools such as Tor are widely used

Read More

Thoughts on the Information Security Skill Set

René Pfeiffer/ July 13, 2018/ Discussion, Security

As mentioned in an earlier blog article we moved our office infrastructure to a new location. Once you use a space for more than a decade things inevitably pile up. So I had to sort through hardware, software (on optical storage hardware and floppy disks), lecture notes from a previous life, ancient project documentation, and notes on ideas for a brighter future. Most things were thrown away (i.e. responsibly recycled), some stuff could be saved by enthusiasts (for example the two old Amigas that were sitting in the basement). All of the things we had to move had a purpose once. The main purpose was to get familiar with technology, accumulate knowledge, and understand how things work. This is essentially the hacker mindset, also found among scientists. Given the many presentations at past DeepSec

Read More