Black Hat presenters [Robert “RSnake” Hansen], CEO of SecTheory, and [Tom Stracener], security analyst at Cenzic, criticized Google in their presentation “Xploiting Google Gadgets”. [Hansen] and [Stracener] say that there’s currently no way for Google to confirm whether Google Gadget creations contain malicious content or not; this leaves the application vulnerable to a wide range of hacking ugliness such as data poisoning, worms, and theft of data. [Hansen] himself isn’t exactly on the friendliest terms with Google. He’s got a bit of a contentious history and he claims that Google has threatened legal action against him. Nevertheless, if what was presented is true and accurate, then Google has a huge security issue that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. Google has not yet commented on the situation.
French reporters at Black Hat crossed the line when they sniffed fellow reporters’ login info on the designated “safe” wired network. Proud of their handiwork, they were nabbed when they tried to get their spoils posted on the wall of sheep, which is used to publicly post attendees credintials. It turns out that monitoring communications without informing one of the parties involved is a felony, so although it is legal to sniff convention goers’ login info with their knowledge, hacking reporters covering the event is a no-no. An FBI agent we ran into commented that in his experience, they’d probably just turn it over to the local US attorney’s office to see if they wanted to proceed with an investigation.
We’re in the Defcon press room today and there’s still a buzz about these “sleazy” French reporters. We’re tunneling through our cell connection like any sane person at a security conference.
FasTrak is the electronic toll collection system used by the state of California. Motorists can purchase a toll transponder for ~$26 and link the serial number with a debit account to have their tolls deducted automatically. Today at Black Hat in Las Vegas, security researcher [Nate Lawson] presented not just the privacy problems with FasTrak, but why absolutely no transaction from the tag should be trusted.
Defcon will once again be one-upping the sophistication of the conference attendee badges. Wired has just published a preview of this year’s badge. The core is a Freescale Flexis MC9S08JM60 processor. The badge has an IR transmitter and receiver on the front plus eight status LEDs. On the back (pictured below), there is a mode select button, CR123A battery, Data Matrix barcode, and an SD card slot. You can add a USB port to the badge and upload code to it using the built in USB bootloader. All the dev tools needed will be included on the conference CD or you can download the IDE in advance. The low barrier to entry should lead to some interesting hacks. In previous years, you needed a special dongle to program the hardware. There is no indication as to what the badge does out of the box. Releasing the badge early is a first for Defcon and the one pictured isn’t the attendee color, but we’re sure someone will still come up with a clone.
Now comes the fun part: What do you think the best use of this badge will be? Would Defcon be so cavalier as to equip everyone in the conference with a TV-B-Gone? I think our favorite possibility is if someone finds a security hole and manages to write an IR based worm to take over all the badges.
Defcon 14 introduced the first electronic badge which blinked in different patterns. Defcon 15 had a 95 LED scrolling marquee. [Joe Grand] will be posting more specific Defcon 16 badge details to his site after the opening ceremony. Check out more high resolution photos on Wired.
YouTomb is a research project designed by the MIT Free Culture group to track video take downs on YouTube. To succeed, the team needed to track every single video on YouTube… which is close to impossible. Instead, they built several “explorer” scripts to track what videos were interesting. One explorer tracks all of YouTube’s lists: recommended, featured, most active, and more. Another explorer picks up every video submitted to YouTube, and a third crawls Technorati.
The explorers just find the videos; a separate group of scanner scripts checks the current status of videos. It checks both the new videos and ones that have been killed to see if they return. YouTomb archives every video it finds. They display the thumbnail of the video under fair use, but they’re still determining whether they can display each video in full.
Hacking At Random 2009 has recently been announced. It’s brought to you by the same people who held the outdoor hacking event What The Hack, which we covered in 2005. Date, location, and many other details are still up in the air. They’re looking to host 3000 attendees and we’re guessing it will be similar in nature to last Fall’s incredible Chaos Communication Camp near Berlin. 2009 will also feature the beta run of outdoor hacker event ToorCamp near Seattle. Two great events we’re certainly looking forward to.
Against all previous indications-including being called The Last HOPE-the conference will not only be returning in 2010, it will be at the Hotel Pennsylvania. We’re looking forward to The Next HOPE, which will probably followed by The Last HYPE, which in turn will be followed by: We’re Super Serious This Is The Last HOPE.