In another month, security researchers, IT professionals and hackers of all stripes will descend on Las Vegas for the annual Black Hat security conference.
Black Hat USA 2013 is expected to draw a crowd of 6,500 from around the world when the convention opens July 27. This year, it will offer attendees 11 content tracks, up from nine last year, according to Trey Ford, general manager for the conference. There will also be three sponsored workshops and keynotes from Gen. Keith Alexander, National Security Agency director, and Brian Muirhead, chief engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
"This year we will have more than 180 researchers and 20 tool developers providing more content than any year prior," Ford said. "Put differently, we have utilized every square inch the fire marshal allows us at Caesars [Palace casino and hotel] to provide opportunities to engage with Black Hat's best and brightest—we are out of room."
The topics set to be covered at this year's conference run the gamut from mobile security issues to cryptography. For example, security researchers Daniel Brodie and Michael Shaulov will outline an attack to circumvent mobile-device-management features, while researchers Tom Ritter and Doug DePerry will make a presentation demonstrating traffic interception and remote mobile phone cloning using a compromised femtocell cellular base station.
"Mobile is definitely huge this year," Ford said. "This revolution has extended beyond the Internet from the desk to the living room, while also diversifying its user base. There are so many platforms, so many uses, [and there is] so much interesting data—and everything found is very tangible to users."
Cryptography and privacy issues couldn't be more visible at this year's conference, he added, noting that it is "top-of-mind" for the security ecosystem.
"You will see discussions around weaknesses in protocols, password hashing and management issues, privacy tools and considerations, and doomsday research on life after RSA is broken," Ford said.
Among those discussions is a talk by security researchers Angelo Prado and Neal Harris dubbed "SSL, Gone in 30 Seconds—A Breach Beyond Crime" that is slated to introduce techniques that enable an attacker to retrieve encrypted session identifiers, CSRF [cross-site request forgery] tokens, OAuth tokens and other information, and will include a proof-of-concept attack against what the researchers describe in a summary of their talk as a "major enterprise product" in 30 seconds.
"Web application security is still a big topic [as well]," Ford said. "Corporate applications are increasingly Web-accessible. This trend is not new, but the 'level of accountability' has only gone up. Corporate awareness of the problem is approaching healthy levels, but application security innovation shows no signs of slowing. We have at least 12 hours of presentations lined up in this space."
The conference will also feature sponsored workshops that will include case studies, demonstrations and competitions. As of now, it is expected that the conference will include the release of 98 new tools and the discussion of 35 zero-day vulnerabilities.
The conference will run from July 27 to Aug. 1 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.