Masters of technology return for BlackHat/Defcon

Posted by Humphrey Cheung

Las Vegas (NV) – It’s that time of the year again and the annual BlackHat and Defcon computer security conventions are returning to Las Vegas.  This year’s sessions and events promise to be just as interesting, eye-opening and downright shocking as in previous conventions.

The BlackHat Briefings convention starts next Wednesday August 1st at the Caesers Palace Hotel and lasts two days.  Defcon follows up the next three days from August 3rd to the 5th and is held at the Riviera Casino and Hotel.

Richard Clarke, author of “Against All Enemies” and former advisor to Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, will keynote BlackHat with a speech titled “A Story About Digital Security in 2017”.  BlackHat is known for having current and former government officials as keynote speakers.  In previous years, FBI agents and the former CEO of In-Q-Tel (the venture capital arm of the CIA) have spoken.

Dan Kaminsky, a veteran of the computer security speaking circuit, will talk about his latest research into hacking Captcha – the authentication system that displays characters to prevent forum and email spammers.  Sites have recently been adding audio Captcha in which a computerized voice rattled off letters and numbers mixed in with noise.  Kaminsky has found a way to use WinAmp to automatically listen and respond to the messages.

For those who don’t want to deal with audio, Dr. Neal Krawetz will have an interesting talk about digital picture and movie forensics.  According to the session description, attendees will, “be able to distinguish real images from computer generated ones’ and also identify how the images were made.

Security researcher Joanna Rutkowska returns to talk about her latest hacking attempts at an undetectable virtualized kernel rootkit.  But Thomas Ptacek of Symantec has a different take and will have a competing talk about how such rootkits are actually easier to detect than regular ones.  I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that a Symantec employee would think that way.

The scheduling will be just as rigorous at Defcon which has added a new “Wireless Village” run by the folks at the Church of the Wifi.  Wireless hacking has been a huge part of security conventions and the new village provides a centralized place for people to share ideas.  Members of the “Church” will also have a session and plan on introducing their own wireless hacking distribution.  In previous years, the group released Rainbow Tables – long list of pre-computed password combinations – to ease WPA cracking.

BlackHat and Defcon founder Jeff Moss even gives his own talk about the “CiscoGate” fiasco that happened two years ago.  You may remember how Cisco tried to censor security researcher Michael Lynn from giving a speech about vulnerabilities in the router operating system.  Moss will give his unique perspective on the matter and who knows maybe Michael Lynn himself will make an appearance.

You can expect more coverage about BlackHat and Defcon next week as TG Daily will attend both conventions.