A Story of Crypto Wars, the Growth on the Internet, and possible future Regulations

René Pfeiffer/ November 9, 2020/ Discussion, High Entropy/ 0 comments

The discussion about how to tackle end-to-end encryption (E2EE) and how to reconcile it with surveillance is almost 30 years old. The very first Crypto War was sparked by the Comprehensive Counter-Terrorism Act of 1991 (no, there is no mention of cryptography in it, because it was the first draft of a series of legislative texts dealing with a reform of the US justice system; have a look at the author of the act). In the following years things like strong cryptography, export bans on mathematics, or the creation of Phil Zimmerman’s Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) were a follow-up. Even the proposal of having the Clipper chip present in telecommunication devices and the concept of key escrow was discussed in the wake of the reform. Sometimes laws have to grow with the technology. All

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Lectures on Information Security

René Pfeiffer/ July 1, 2020/ Discussion, High Entropy/ 0 comments

It’s time for an editorial to end our premature Covid-19 induced Summer break. We (as in the staff behind DeepSec/DeepINTEL) were busy with projects, preparations, following the news about the pandemic, and collecting information for our event(s) in November. Personally I have been involved in teaching for decades. The past months have shifted the focus heavily on virtual presences in the form of teleconferences. Keeping hundreds of students busy while explaining how operating systems work and how secure code looks tends to take up some of your time. Good network connections and decent hardware helped a lot, but there are a couple of problems with conveying content, concepts, and ideas. Let me show you what I mean. Getting good tutorials is hard. The new agile way of computer science is to ditch good documentation

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Update on DeepSec / DeepINTEL / ROOTS 2020 with regards to Covid-19

René Pfeiffer/ May 2, 2020/ Administrivia, Discussion, High Entropy

Lacking time travel we have no way to know what will happen in November 2020. That’s not news to us. We closely follow the development of the current Covid-19 crisis, and we constantly evaluate our plans for DeepSec, DeepINTEL, and ROOTS 2020. Given the current state of affairs and the experiments in various countries (including Austria) with lowering the restrictions for business and public life, we believe that our conferences can take place in November. There may be restrictions still present in November with regard to travel and protection measures at our venue. We have developed a schedule for keeping you informed. Additionally we have plans for changing the schedule in order to guarantee the minimum level of content required by our call for papers process. Updates regarding the state of our events in

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It’s April Fool’s Day – 7/24 and 365 Days of the Year

René Pfeiffer/ April 1, 2020/ Discussion, High Entropy

The first day of April is typically the time where you hide well-written pieces of misinformation to trick people into believing something that isn’t true. We published our share of April Fool’s Day articles in the past. While this was and still is fun we believe that it is time to break with this tradition. Hiding something that isn’t true within a stream of informative articles or news items has become a major way of influencing opinion. Good comedy does the same, but the outcome is different. Satirical news are a means to criticise by exaggerating or focussing on an issue. The typical audience of comedy expects this. The distinction between satire and reality have almost disappeared in the past decade. So if you are looking for entertainment there are plenty of other sources

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Complexity of Dependencies in Multidimensional Systems – Corona Virus

René Pfeiffer/ February 28, 2020/ Administrivia, Conference, High Entropy

This blog is often silent. Our policy is to publish if there is real information to send out. DeepSec is all about facts. We don’t do speculation. Sometimes it is hard to idly watch „news“ being published, revised, withdrawn, altered, commented, and even deleted. We, to the best of our abilities, try not to publish something which doesn’t hold. But we read and watch a lot or articles, opinion, and other sources. For the rare cases where we need to publish our opinion we have created the High Entropy category in this blog. This category is all about the things we like to discuss. This time it’s about biology, containment, and IT security defence. Let’s have a look at the current coronavirus. We are in touch with various partners in different countries. You may

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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

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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

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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

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Eth(er)ical Hacking – Hacker Defined Radio and analysing Signals

René Pfeiffer/ April 4, 2019/ Call for Papers, High Entropy

There is a lot going on in the wireless world. 5G is all the fashion, because frequencies are being auctioned. This is only the tip of the iceberg. Wireless protocols have become ubiquitous. The IEEE 802.11 family is one widespread example. Bluetooth, mobile networks, ZigBee, Z-Wave, and other wireless transmissions are widely used. If you go looking for signals, your first stop are usually industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) radio bands. But there is much more. It’s well worth to passively scan what’s all around you. The equipment is often the main obstacle preventing hacker from doing something. When it comes to radio waves you need a suitable antenna (or a couple thereof) plus the hardware to drive it. Even if you limit yourself to passive operation you still need something to catch, amplify,

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Network Security right from the Beginning – Introducing DHCP-over-TLS (DoT)

René Pfeiffer/ April 1, 2019/ High Entropy

Every security researcher knows: If you want to secure a system, do it as early as possible. This is why Trusted Computing, Secure Boot, Trusted Execution Technology, and many more technologies were invented – to get the operating system safely off the ground right at boot time. After the booting process additional components have to be initialised. Dependencies are common in this stage. The second most important resource next to the local machine is the network. Most modern programming languages highly rely on network connection to get any work done. Local storage and memory is merely a big cache for temporary data to them. So how do you create a trusted boot process beyond the initial network configuration? The answer is easy. You just combine two highly mature and reliable protocols – Dynamic Host

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Remembering Mike Kemp (@clappymonkey)

René Pfeiffer/ March 26, 2019/ High Entropy

This blog post has no tags, because we cannot come up with any. Mike Kemp, also known as @clappymonkey on Twitter, has died. He spoke at the DeepSec conference back in 2012. We regularly saw him at other events and kept in touch. We have lost a great colleague. It is impossible to express what he was to you, us, and his family and friends. Our sympathies are with all of you who lost him as partner, friend, companion, mentor, and relative. We will miss him dearly.

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

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Analysing Data Leaks and avoiding early Attribution

René Pfeiffer/ January 4, 2019/ High Entropy

The new year starts with the same old issues we are dealing with for years. German politicians, journalists, and other prominent figures were (are) affected by a data leak. A Twitter account started tweeting bits from the leaked data on 1 December 2018 in the fashion of an Advent calendar. The account was closed today. You will find articles describing single parts of what may have happened along with tiny bits of information. Speculation is running high at the moment. So we would like to give you some ideas on how to deal with incomplete information about a security event floating around in the Internet and elsewhere. Attributing data leaks of this kind is very difficult. Without thoroughly understanding and investigating the situation, proper attribution is next to impossible. Given the method of disclosure

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Merry XSSmas and a successful new mktime() Syscall

René Pfeiffer/ December 21, 2018/ Administrivia, High Entropy

The holidays are coming, next to Winter (hopefully). Thank you all for attending and contributing to DeepSec and DeepINTEL 2018! All slides we got are online. The videos have almost left post-production (except one recording which is being fixed audio-wise) and are on the way to the content distribution network. The ROOTS videos will be first. You will find all videos in their albums. Make sure you look for collections, too. We will set-up a tip jar for our video team again, so if you want to leave a small thank you for the crew, please do so. We are going to deal with infrastructure and upkeep of our to-dos. Plus we will spend some time off-line. Or maybe just in local networks to do some well-deserved hacking. The dates for DeepSec and DeepINTEL

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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

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