CCC 2015: Moon Robots, Data Destruction, And An Epic Thunderstorm

Chaos Communication Camp 2015 is over, and most everyone’s returned home to warmer showers and slower Internet. In this last transmission from Camp 2015, we’ll cover the final two days of talks, the epic thunderstorm, and give a brief rundown of the challenges of networking up a rural park in Brandenburg.

The Talks

Planning on landing a robot on the moon? Well, this guy (and his team) is for the Google Lunar X-Prize, and his talk covers how they’re using a model of the moon to test things out here on earth. Even if you’re not going that far, the basic idea of creating an accurate practice mission could help you figure out where the glitches are.

[Ramiro Pareja] and [Rafa Boix] show you how to get started with microprocessor voltage glitching to bypass security applications. If you liked the 2014 Hackaday Prize entry, the Chip Whisperer, these guys show you how to do something similar on the cheap with a transistor and a relatively fast microprocessor, or by “optical fault injection” — just flashing a really bright light at it.

Keyboard/Mouse controller chips drilled out
Keyboard/Mouse controller chips drilled out

If you need to destroy all data on your computer, why not learn from the pros? [Mustafa Al-Bassam] and [Richard Tynan] study the steps that the Guardian newspaper was ordered to take by the GHCQ to destroy the notebook provided to them by Edward Snowden. The surprise is that the spooks have them take an angle grinder to many more parts of the computer than you might have guessed. Watch the talk to find out what.

[Thilo Schumann] presented an overview of the state of the art in car hacking. If you haven’t been following all the things that you can do with your automobile over the CAN bus (wikipedia), give this video a look.

The Thunderstorm

It rained a couple of times at the Camp, but the night of Day Four saw a decent lightning storm pass through camp. (Animation of images from Blitzortung.org.)

When a lightning storm hits a nerd camp, everyone is either themselves an armchair physicist or is trapped in a Faraday cage with one. A few brave souls put their money where their mouths were and chose to sit the storm out inside the rusty metal railcars just across from the Munich camp.

Most of the crowd grumbled about having to put down their beverages, left their tents, and ran out in the rain to one of the old brick warehouses as instructed. To be fair, there have been a few incidents of people getting struck by lightning at recent summer festivals in Germany, sot it’s not entirely unreasonable to move people out of tents. One woman quipped, “at least we didn’t die, but now we all smell like wet dogs.”

Power was turned back on shortly after the storm passed, and the parties picked right back up where they left off. We all had something to talk about, and pretty pictures were made.

10-Gigabit Ethernet in the Country

It’s no exaggeration that the Internet at the Camp is better than most of us have at home. How did they do it? Like everything else at Camp, it involved a lot of know-how, a bunch of hard work, and cooperation and donations from named and un-named networking firms. It never hurts to have connections.

Luckily enough, there was a fiber cable that passed relatively close to camp, about 1.5 miles away. Connecting that up to the Camp was possible, and only took a few days, but involved running through fields and streams. It’s a good thing that the Network Operations crew includes certified climbers, riggers, and divers.

Shortly before the Camp opened, however, disaster struck in the form of (probably) a squirrel or marten that chewed through the cable. With all the professionalism that you’d expect from CCC volunteers, the fault was tracked down and repaired before the crowds arrived.

The end result was a faster network connection than any private individual has in Germany, in the middle of a campground surrounded by farms and lakes.

Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei.

The days following the official end of Camp still have volunteers on site taking stuff apart, preparing for the shipping companies, and generally cleaning up after the rest of us. If you’re still working on the Camp site, you have our gratitude. Take a well-deserved break for a while. We’re all looking forward to 2019.

Headline image by [Robert Anders] is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

9 thoughts on “CCC 2015: Moon Robots, Data Destruction, And An Epic Thunderstorm

  1. Wow, that Guardian newspaper/GHCQ talk has a lot of “tin-foil hat” level paranoia. Even after they raised the point that the heavy-handed approach could be more scaremongering than legitimately required, they just swept that point aside and ploughed full on with the conspiracy theories. There’s a big difference between was could store (user) data and what does store (user) data so anything that contains writeable memory could be possible locations (which is what the government agencies need to go for “just in case”).

    It’s not rocket science: if it contains some sort of controller there will be some code needed for it, there will in almost all cases be some form of storage element associated with it (gasp, possible user data for the tinfoil wearers). The talk lays it on as though this is some magical secret they’ve stumbled across when I would expect most hardware engineers to say the same thing (but with the caveat that just because it could, doesn’t mean it does – security organisations have to cover their backs).

    Now, at the end they did highlight the big open issue – how do you know if (as supplied by the manufacturer) a chip contains anything user-identifiable? (that’s not to say it couldn’t be changed by a nefarious group but it’s a start)

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