DeepSec 2012 Workshop: Strategic Thinking and Assessing Risk

René Pfeiffer/ September 24, 2012/ Conference, Training

We have begun to address the increasing demand for strategic thinking by staging the first DeepINTEL event in 2012. Since we strongly believe in the importance of the „big picture“, we offer a workshop on strategic thinking and assessing risk at DeepSec 2012, too. The training will be conducted by Richard Hanson, who has a broad understanding of security concepts and best practices through both formal education and client experience. He will guide you through the two-day workshop. The training will equip you with the knowledge and tools to be able to think strategically though understanding what is important to a business and assess its risks. It will teach you techniques to conduct risks assessments and to prioritize the outcomes in a strategic roadmap. It’s not just theory. You will learn how to effectively

Read More

Take-Away Security Tools Probably Aren’t

René Pfeiffer/ August 27, 2012/ Discussion, Security

You have probably read one of the many reviews of security tools published in the depths of the Internet. A lot of magazines feature articles with the headline „Top n Tools for $TASK“. While reviews are a nice way of being introduced to new things, especially tools and software, you have to be careful when it comes to reviewing the security aspects of code or your new favourite tool. First of all you cannot analyse the security design and possible flaws by reading the FAQ section of the project web site or the user manual. You have to evaluate the code and the components it uses. Don’t be fooled or distracted by encryption for it doesn’t necessarily secure anything. Getting a security design right is very hard, and sprinkling cryptography over serious design flaws

Read More

BYOD Madness

René Pfeiffer/ May 7, 2012/ Discussion, Security

When it comes to computing we all like convenience, just like in other areas of personal or business life. It’s nice to use familiar tools. Provisioning is much easier for your IT department if your users bring their own hardware. So, let’s sprinkle this idyllic setting with some security in terms of malware protection, data loss prevention and policies. This is a recipe for a lot of fun and sleepless nights at the same time. The laisser-faire bring your own device (BYOD) approach is all the fashion these days. Since your users really like to do serious business on electronics and software designed for entertainment, why not combine both ends of the spectrum and create a worse starting point than with using either one technology. While being able to view, edit and create confidential

Read More

It’s the Smart Meters that matter – or is it?

René Pfeiffer/ March 18, 2012/ Communication, High Entropy, Security

Wired’s Danger Room has an article about how ubiquitous computing and smart homes are eagerly awaited by the CIA to turn your networked environment into a gigantic spy tool. CIA Director David Petraeus very much likes the „Internet of things” as an information gathering tool. Security researchers can’t wait, too. However they have a very practical approach by pointing out the missing security design. Smart homes might be very dumb after all, and they might not be a „home“. If your home turns against you and breaches your privacy, it’s not a home any more. Plus the next „digital Pearl Harbor“ (whatever this means) might start in your refrigerator. Who knows? This is a very simplistic view on the „Internet of things”. If things automatically turn into sensors and report useful information once they

Read More

DeepINTEL: Security Intelligence Event in Late Summer 2012

Mika/ January 20, 2012/ Conference, Internet, Security Intelligence

We are currently finalizing our new event in Summer 2012, focusing on Security Intelligence. Security Intelligence is one the newest disciplines in the IT security zoo and not yet fully defined (e.g. there is no Wikipedia article or rich bibliography of works dealing with the topic). We have been monitoring the Security Intelligence scene now for more than 3 years and found many different approaches, ranging from standard security advisories and alerts to deep insight into the current threat landscape. While some organizations (mostly network equipment vendors) seem to view Security Intelligence just as a new buzz-word for marketing others do a more thorough job: Especially software and anti-virus vendors like Microsoft, McAfee, IBM, Symantec and some ISPs like Verizon and AT&T provide valuable intelligence to the community. Also voluntary groups, free-of-charge spin-offs from

Read More is on Strike!

René Pfeiffer/ January 18, 2012/ Administrivia, Internet

You have probably heard of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its chilling effects on the Internet and all its users. „The originally proposed bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as copyright holders,to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. “ (quote taken from the Wikipedia article)  SOPA is a major security risk for it advocates to change the DNS zones for specific domains. Blocking would be done by DNS, so the bill compromises the Internet’s infrastructure. Speaking from the view of security researchers we would like to quote the white paper written by Steve Crocker and Dan Kaminsky: From an operational standpoint, a resolution failure from a nameserver subject to a court order and from a hacked nameserver would be indistinguishable. Users running

Read More

Talk: Bond Tech – I Want More Than Movie Props

René Pfeiffer/ October 30, 2011/ Conference

I watched „Bolt“ with my daughter yesterday. She’s still young and needed some time to distinguish fiction from reality, just like Bolt himself. If you regularly use (security) tools, then you might get a bit jealous about all these super-science skills and gadgets. This is especially true when it comes to the toys of James Bond. These questions arise: Does your software think it has super-powers, and when do we get these cineastic power tools on steroids just like in the films? Kizz MyAnthia of Halock Security Labs will address both questions in his talk at DeepSec 2011. There’s no doubt about it, you want these super-tools. We all do. So when do we get them? Well, soon or maybe never, but if you deal with information security (or vice versa) you have to

Read More

Talk: The Security of non-executable Files

René Pfeiffer/ October 27, 2011/ Conference

Recent security incidents push the imagination of some people to the limits. On today’s menu are U.S. Government satellites (done before albeit with a different vector), insulin pumps, automatic teller machines, smartphones linked to cars, and even vending machines in wilderness resort parks. What’s next? Executing code by the use of postcards or printed newspapers? Exactly! You probably recognise this phrase: „This is a data file, it can never be executed as code.“ It’s nice to think of bits and bytes neatly separated into code and data. In fact some security models encourage this approach. In practice data tells a different story. You have very elaborate document and data formats with thousands of pages of specification. PDF, rich media and office documents are way more complex than you might think. This is why Daniel

Read More

Mobile Phone Calls as Security Risk

René Pfeiffer/ October 13, 2011/ Conference, Security

Do you rely on your mobile phone? Do you frequently call someone or get called? Do you transmit messages or data across mobile phone networks? Maybe you shouldn’t unless you use additional security layers since mobile phone networks must be regarded as a security risk. Karsten Nohl of Security Research Labs has taken a look at Austrian mobile networks. The result is a wake-up call for companies and individuals alike. According to Nohl the local Austrian providers A1/Mobilkom, T-Mobile Österreich und Orange have not updated their networks as other operators in Europe have already. He explained that there is no sign of any additional hardening. The transmissions of mobile phone network clients can be intercepted and decrypted with very little technical effort. The networks still use the A5/1 encryption standard which has been repeatedly

Read More

Of Web Apps, Smartphones and Data Leaks

René Pfeiffer/ October 6, 2011/ High Entropy

Just digging through the backlog of the past days. Someone shot me a quick link to a web site showing an administrative interface. I failed to see the significance right away, because the link was sent by chat with an URL obfuscator shortener. I know discovered the corresponding blog post to this issue. Coincidentally I was talking on the phone today about AnonAustria’s latest publications. Apparently they found the addresses of Austrian police staff online. The claim is that the data was sitting on a web server and could be downloaded simply by guessing links. Yesterday the Austrian Chamber of Commerce confirmed a data leak covering more than 6.000 data sets of customers (400 of them complete with bank accounting information). The data leak looks like a web server „glitch“, too. AnonAustria referred to

Read More

Talk: Armageddon Redux – The Changing Face of the Infocalypse

René Pfeiffer/ October 6, 2011/ Conference, High Entropy

DeepSec has a tradition of holding a „night talk“. This is the last talk on the first day, just before the Speaker’s Dinner. Don’t let the expectation of good Austrian food fool you. Morgan Marquis-Boire will serve you an appetiser which may be hard to digest: Armageddon Redux The talk is a follow-up on Morgan’s Fear, Uncertainty and the Digital Armageddon talk held at DeepSec 2008. During the past years security researchers have been warning about attacks on fundamental infrastructure. The ghosts and dæmons haunting SCADA systems lead to scary scenarios portraying a failing civilisation. At the time, there was significant worry about the danger that digital sabotage posed to the systems that run our everyday lives. Take a look at the recent Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan and its impact on industrial control

Read More

The BEAST SSL Attack and the postponed Digital Apocalypse

René Pfeiffer/ September 25, 2011/ Security

When it comes to security flaws of SSL/TLS (either in theory or in implementation), then a lot of people get very nervous. The past days have been full of media coverage of the BEAST SSL Attack. Since Juliano Rizzo and Thai Duong have published their results the level of speculation has dropped. Let’s replace panic by analysis of facts. Starting with the name of the BEAST, Browser Exploit Against SSL/TLS Tool, it is clear that a browser and a web site is involved. If you take a look at the description of the attack, you can infer that the impact doesn’t affect all SSL/TLS deployments. The following text is taken from Bruce Schneier’s blog entry on BEAST. The tool is based on a blockwise-adaptive chosen-plaintext attack, a man-in-the-middle approach that injects segments of plain text

Read More

Subverting Femto Cells – Infrastructure at Risk

René Pfeiffer/ July 14, 2011/ Security

The past DeepSec conferences featured talks about mobile telecommunication networks. Security researchers had to turn mobile phones into base stations or create their own from hardware and software. Yesterday The Hacker’s Choice have published a security analysis of Vodafone’s Femto Cells. These cells are small routers used for boosting the 3G signal. They cost about 160£ and can be purchased through the Vodafone store. Reverse engineering turns these little routers into full-blown 3G/UMTC/WCDMA interception devices. You can catch IMSIs and retrieve the secret subscriber information by requesting it from the core network. By using this secret key material you can decrypt intercepted phone calls and data transmissions. The reverse engineering process even produced the root password of the device (it’s ceolyx, but you need to decrypt it; other blogs feature the full plaintext password). This

Read More

SecInt: Radar for Anti-Security Movement

René Pfeiffer/ July 7, 2011/ High Entropy, Press, Security

We have been talking to some journalists in the past weeks. Most questions revolved around the rise in attacks against well-known web sites and their companies (or vice versa). Jeffrey Carr has published a good source for an overview of Anti-Security groups. If you are looking what to put on your radar, his article might be a good start. Security intelligence is gathering importance. Make sure that you don’t drown in tools or gadgets, and that you don’t neglect your strategic view. Quite a lot of people are confused by the many reports of incidents, „lulz“, „LOLs“, scanty slogans when it comes to motivations of attackers, damage reports, panic and media mind disruption (always remember: anonymous ≠ Anonymous). Currently we’re working on material to put the threats into perspective. It’s hard to distinguish the

Read More

Mobile Security and authTokens

René Pfeiffer/ May 17, 2011/ Security

Recently we mentioned the topic of mobile security in this blog since it keeps being addressed by security researchers. Now there’s something that can be combined by networking, defective by design and mobile security. German security researcher from the University of Ulm have explored a flaw in Google’s ClientLogin protocol. The initial idea stems from Dan Wallach, who took a closer look at the transmissions of an Android smartphone. The authentication token is sent via unencrypted HTTP which means it can be seen by attackers on the same network. Since the token is your key to online services and is probably used by apps dealing with your calendar, contacts or private pictures, an attacker has full access to this data (or any other data an app deals with via the network). Reading, manipulating or

Read More