Defcon calls for new CTF organizer

Kenshoto, organizer of the official Defcon Capture the Flag contest for the last four years, has stepped down from the position, and thus Defcon is looking for a new organizer for the event. If you’re highly competent, and maybe a little crazy, this might be your chance to step in and run one of the most well-known and prestigious hacking contests in the world. Please understand that the staff is looking for someone who wants to take ownership of the contest and make something new, unique, and challenging, and that Kenshoto has left extremely huge shoes to fill. Merely offering to replicate the existing contest and keep things mostly unchanged isn’t going to cut it.

If you’re up to the challenge, check out Dark Tangent’s post on the Defcon forums (which, for some odd reason, sounds strikingly like his 2005 post calling for a CTF organizer), where he comprehensively lays out what the staff is looking for in a new event organizer. If it jives well with you, get in touch with the Defcon staff, and maybe we’ll be covering your contest later this year.

Defcon 16: List of tools compiled


Zero Day posted a list of tools and applications that were released at Defcon 16. The applications run the gamut, from Beholder, an open source wireless IDS tool, to CollabREate, a reverse-engineering plugin that allows multiple people to share a single project. The list covers a lot of ground, and there’s a lot for hackers to play around with and explore. It’s nice to see someone bothering to maintain a list since the majority of conference tools just get lost in the shuffle and are never seen again.

Defcon 16: Biometric cloning


One of the more novel talks we saw at Defcon was [Zac Franken] presenting on access control systems. He covered several different types, but the real fun was his live demo of bypassing a hand geometry scanners like the one pictured above. With the help of two assistants, 4 pounds of chromatic dental alginate, and 5 liters of water, he made a mold of his hand. The box he placed his hand in had markings to show where the pegs on the scanner are located. After 2 minutes he could remove his hand from the cavity. They then filled the mold with vinylpolysiloxane, making sure to remove all bubbles. 20 minutes later the hand was solid and passed the scanner’s test. This may not be a completely practical attack, but it does defeat the overall idea of biometrics; biometrics are built on the assumption that every person is unique and can’t have their features reproduced.

[Zac] also showed an interesting magnetic card spoofer that emulated all three tracks using coils of magnet wire. We hope to see more about that in the future.

[photo: morgan.davis]

Defcon 16: Glimpses of the Network Operations Center


Wired’s Threat Level takes us on a photo tour of the Defcon Network Operations Center, giving a unique behind-the-scenes perspective of one of the largest computer security conventions. The Defcon Network Operations Center is run by a volunteer group named the “Goons”. They keep operations running smoothly and securely with both high and low-tech resources, like a Cisco fiber switch and an armed guard, to protect the router and firewall.

Defcon 16: Covert Warballooning flight


Since last month, when the Defcon warballooning event was announced, [Rick Hill] finished building his rig and even got FAA approval for the flight. Just when everything seemed set, the Riviera Hotel management decided not to allow the takeoff from their property. So, naturally, [Rick] and his team rented a moving truck and covertly inflated the balloon inside. They launched it in an abandoned parking lot and drove through the Vegas strip. They were surprised to find that about one third of the 370 wireless networks they scanned were unencrypted.

[photo: JoergHL]

[via /.]

Defcon 16: Pacemaker-B-Gone

A collaboration of various medical researchers in the academic field has led to proof that pacemakers can be remotely hacked with simple and accessible equipment. [Kevin Fu], an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, led the team. [Kevin] first tried to get documentation from the manufacturers, believing they would support the effort, but they were not interested in helping. They were forced to get access to an old pacemaker and reverse engineer it. They found that the communication protocol used to remotely program the device was unencrypted. They then used a GNU radio system to find access to some of the machine’s reprogrammable functions, including accessing patient data and even turning it off.

Although this was only done with one particular pacemaker, it proves the concept and should be taken seriously by the medical companies who produce these devices. If you are interested in the technical aspects, check out the paper the team released in May disclosing the methods.

Defcon 16: MIT Boston transit presentation gagged


[Zack Anderson], [RJ Ryan], and [Alessandro Chiesa] were sued by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority for an alleged violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act after copies of their presentation slides were circulated at Defcon 16. The slides give an eye widening glimpse into the massive security holes present in the Boston subway system. There are at least 4 major security flaws in the subway, which allowed them to get free subway rides by finding unlocked, back door routes into the subway, spoofing magnetic and RFID cards, and attacking the MTBA’s network. Judge Douglas P. Woodlock has issued a gag order, stopping the trio from giving the presentation at Defcon or disclosing sensitive information for ten days. However, the MIT school newspaper, The Tech, has published a PDF of the slides online. The research culminated in the trio warcarting the MTBA’s headquarters and being driven off by police.