BSidesLV 2011, Day 1

2011-08-05 by . 0 comments

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This week in Las Vegas is Christmas for security. In listening to four BSidesLV talks today, I’ve come to conclude that the community suffers from a real lack of discussion about interacting with management, mandatory access controls need to be enhanced to focus on applications, the SSL system is irreparably broken and DNSSEC really should replace it, and some potential laws related to hacking may be harbingers of a 100 year security dark age.

That’s a loaded paragraph, so here’s the breakdown: Adam Ely’s talk “Exploiting Management for Fun and Profit – or – Management is not Stupid, You Are” made a fantastic point about budgeting for security. Getting better security isn’t about convincing executives that they need better security. Better security is about understanding what the corporate goals are and fitting the application to that model. Consider an executive’s primary goal of a hospital: increase the survival rate of emergency room patients. How can your goals for security further that goal?

Val Smith’s “Are There Still Wolves Among Us” expressed research showing a very skilled black hat community that has a quiet history of program modification at vendors, years-old 0-day exploits and wholesale compromise of security researchers. The summary point is that “cyber warfare” and “government-level” threats may come from non-government hackers, and they’re the quiet ones. LulzSec, Anonymous and the like are providing covering noise for the ones who don’t get caught. It is further a possibility that attacks that appear to be from foreign countries may be intentional proxying by talented hackers

“A Study of What Breaks SSL” by Ivan Ristic conveyed that the majority of servers are misconfigured somehow. Acceptance of data and sometimes the presentation of login forms in unencrypted pages, broken certificate chains, and servers still offering up SSLv2 in abundance. I’ve personally come to believe that the purpose of SSL — provide assurance that an encryption key belongs to the registered domain of the certificate — has been supplanted by the implementation of DNSSEC. As DNSSEC provides for a similar signature chain and distribution of keys, it ought to be used as the in-channel distribution method. Further to that, the bolt-on nature of SSL permits numerous attacks and misconfiguration possibilities that can prevent even negotiating SSL with a client. Those thoughts may be worthy of their own paper

Finally, Schuyler Towne’s “Vulnerability Research Circa 1851” was a great look at the security culture of physical locks. It showed the evolution of lock security as it moved toward a system where knowing the mechanical construction of a lock didn’t prevent it from being secure. More importantly, it showed a 100 year drought of lock security filled with closed and legally enforced locksmith guilds, laws against lockpicking and the stalling of progress in adopted residential security locks — namely that most American household locks are using 100 year old technology. It emphasized the potential disaster that adoption of laws such as Germany’s 202© “anti-hacking tools” law could present the security industry with. Just as the golden age of lock development was spurred on with constant public challenges over lock security and then followed up with a century-long dark age here laws and culture prevented research that would advance security .

The first day of BSides has drawn to a close, the 2nd day is opening. The lines for badges at DEFCON are some kind of absurd, and the week is just warming up. DEFCON organizers (“Goons”) are expecting 12,000 attendees. Why they have only pressed 9200 attendee badges is a notable question given the badge shortages of previous years, though. Security companies are actively and openly conference recruiting attendees from BSides, and I expect more of the same at DEFCON.

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