Dave Bullock / eecue

photographer, director of engineering: crowdrise, photojournalist, hacker, nerd, geek, human


Pushing Hackers to the Tipping Point

People love free booze and tickets to parties at which free booze is provided are a hot commodity at security conventions. A company called Tipping Point that is a subsidiary of 3Com is throwing a party tonight at Body English in the Hard Rock. To get an invite you would have had to RSVP with their PR people before the convention, which of course I didn't, or you would have to wait in "line" and get a ticket on a first come first served basis. I put line in quotes because the folks manning the booth didn't seem to have any idea about how to do an orderly giveaway. They told everyone to stand there and wait their turn, but never actually instructed people to get into a single file line. The "line" was actually more like a mob and when they started giving away the tickets it turned into a writhing blob of stinky geeks, I almost lost my camera bag in the chaos. In the end I got my pass to the party and I will go and take part in the booze drinking. I don't want to make a presumption about the quality of their product based on the lack of organization of their giveaway, but it is hard not to.

Update Last night we defeated the authentication system of the Tipping Point party and got about 12 people in with just the 1 token I won, plus 2 or 3 tokens that we temporarily borrowed from random people. The flaw in the system was pretty simple, the bouncers didn't take your token away when you got in so if you went outside to make a phone call or whatnot you could give your token or several you borrowed to your friends. The part was fun and being 23b, we danced.


Black Hat 2006 Day 1 - Sidewinder

Shawn Embleton

Frequently you find a speaker who is covering a very interesting topic, but may not quite have a firm grasp on keeping a crowd interested. Public speaking is not a skill that I have mastered, and I feel that the folks that were talking about Sidewinder are in the same boat. Sidewinder is a promising piece of software that Shawn Embleton, Sherri Sparks and Ryan Cunningham are working on. Sidewinder is a fuzzer that uses genetic algorithms to evolve the fuzzed input in order to get the funky data to the place in the code where you want it. The next logical step of their application is to add some software to create exploits once you get to the place in the code where you suspect a vulnerability may exist. Keep an eye on these three, I see big things coming from their collective intelligence in the next few years.

Update I had a chance to speak with Shawn about the Sidewinder application and he told me it was all coded in just a few months. He isn't sure if he will have time to continue development on the application, but I encouraged him to as I feel it is a great concept and could grow to be one of the best fuzzers out there.


Major Flaw in Proposed RFID Passports

The guys from a wireless research company called Flexilis who happen to be based a block and a half from my loft, just showed me their proof of concept demo of a serious flaw in the upcoming RFID embedded Passports, scheduled to be released in October. The RFID passports incorporate a shielding mechanism to prevent rogue readers from picking up the sensitive information contained in your US passport, but as it turns out if the passport is slightly open it can be read. This may not seem like much of a big deal until you watch the following video where they created a proof of concept Improvised Explosive Device that detects the presence of a US passport and detonates a charge (or in their test case, some model rocket engines).

This hack could also be used to identify to unique individual and then detonate a device or track them. Because the RFID technology works at only close distances this attack is especially dangerous. I talked to them about the possibilities of attacking the RFID chip even if the passport is closed and it is possibly that with a very strong electromagnetic field, the data could be read on a subcarrier, but they still have more research to do in that area. Here is their abstract about the demo:
The FLX[2006‐0605] video security brief demonstrates a real‐world vulnerability associated with the failure of the shielding component in the current proposed electronic passport design. When partially open, as could be the case when in a pocket, purse, or briefcase, the currently proposed passport can be detected by a nearby inquiring RFID reader. The security brief also demonstrates an improved shield design that requires a passport to be significantly open before reading is possible.

You can read the full RFID Passport Technical Analysis (84K PDF) or the RFID Passport Shield Failure Demonstration (120 KB). The good news is they have proposed a fix for the problem, John Hering told me he had discovered the vulnerability 2 years ago, but didn't want to release knowledge of the problem until he had a fix to go with it.

Digg This Article

UPDATE Well it looks like the Department of State decided not to wait until October to begin issuing these dangerous passports. Here is their press release.


Black Hat 2006 - Opening Intro and Fighting Organized Crime Keynote

Jeff Moss and Dan Larkin

I just caught the opening intro from Jeff Moss aka Dark Tangent. He dispelled rumors that Microsoft had attempted to buy a track at the convention, explaining that he was hoping to have some of the Vista engineers at the con to talk about their work that would hopefully coincide with the imminent release of the new OS. As it turned out the Vista release date has been pushed back, so that didn't work out as planned.

The opening keynote was given by Dan Larkin, FBIU Unit Chief of Cyber Initiative & Resource Fusion Unit Cirf-U, a spinoff of IC3. He started out with some bad jokes about how far computers have come which elicited a sum total of zero laughs from the audience. His talk became more interesting when he talked about strides the feds had made in past years working with academia, industry and experts in the field. The FBI is actively investigating all types of cybercrime ranging from phishing to spamming to bank fraud and are uncovering vast organized crime organizations that span the globe.

I had a chance to talk to Dan Larkin more after his talk and I asked him about what percentage of the crime the investigate involves music, movie and software piracy and he said that the organized criminals involved really have their hands in anything and everything illegal that can make them money. He said 30% of the bad guys crime involves When it comes to music, software and music.

I am torn between three of the next talks scheduled, of which I will try and catch a few minutes of each: Bypassing NAC by Ofir Arkin, Black Ops 2006 by Dan Kaminsky and Trusted Computing Revolution by Bruce Potter. Dan's talks are always great and I've enjoyed Ofir's in the past as well. I am pulling the shots from the keynote off my CF card right now and will upload them as soon as they are done.

Jeff Moss aka Dark Tangent


Black Hat Day 1 - Registration

black hat swag

I am attending a 2 day security convention in Las Vegas called Black Hat. The flight in from LAX was short, although I did get the old TSA hassle, for the first time ever I was directed to stand in the little search corral and the frisked me, then swapped my bags and fed that to the spectrometer, I heard from another attendee that people all over the country are getting extra hassles.

I showed up at Caesar's Palace right at 8am to get my credentials and everything went smoothly. The line for the general credentials was insanely long, but luckily there was a press line that was only a dozen or so people deep. Jeff Moss will be giving his intro in a few minutes and then the keynote: "Fighting Organized Cyber Crime", which should be interesting. I'll get some photos of the speakers and try and upload them and give an update between talks. The photo above is of the free swag you get upon registration... a pretty good haul.