Black Hat USA and DefCon: Finding Security Risks in All the Things

By Sean Michael Kerner  |  Posted 2016-08-01 Print this article Print
Black Hat

The annual hacker gatherings will bring out new research in car, payment and internet protocol security.

No week in the information security calendar is quite like this one, with the annual Black Hat USA and DefCon security conferences descending on Las Vegas. The mythos of the two security conferences runs deep across more than two decades as the places where new research is revealed and zero-day exploits are announced, and the 2016 events are no exception.

While the focus of Black Hat USA, which has its briefings on Aug. 3 and 4 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, is largely on new issues, the event kicks off with a keynote address from security researcher Dan Kaminsky that will likely reminisce about one of the largest issues ever revealed at a Black Hat event.

In 2008, Kaminsky dominated the Black Hat headlines by detailing a flaw in the Domain Name System (DNS) that has since become known simply as the "Kaminsky Flaw." The Kaminsky Flaw is one that was thought to be critical to the foundation of the internet as we know it, and could have enabled the widespread disruption of traffic. At Black Hat USA 2016, Kaminsky is talking about the hidden architecture of the internet and how it is at risk today.

"Essentially, I'd like to provide a model for comprehending the internet as it stands that prevents harm to it while providing the useful resources to promote its continued operation," the abstract for Kaminsky's session states.

Kaminsky won't be the only person at Black Hat talking about core internet protocols and the risks they pose, as there are multiple talks on DNS and HTTPS security. Security researcher Erik Wu from startup Acalvio, for example, is giving a talk titled "Dark Side of the DNS Force" that will discuss DNS-based attacks.

SafeBreach security researchers Itzik Kotler and Amit Klein are talking about how to cripple HTTPS encrypted traffic.

"We will demonstrate that, by forcing your browser/system to use a malicious PAC (Proxy AutoConfiguration) resource, it is possible to leak HTTPS URLs," the SafeBreach session abstract states.

Among the most anticipated protocol talks is one titled "BadWPAD" (Web Proxy Auto Discovery) in which researcher Maxim Goncharov will detail how the WPAD protocol is often misconfigured in a way that could be exposing millions of users to risk.

Hijacking HTTP Cookies

Columbia University researchers Suphannee Sivakorn and Jason Polakis are giving a talk about how to hijack HTTP cookies and what attackers have already been able to do. The two researchers will reveal flaws that enable attackers to steal cookies and get access to user information, including search history and contact lists.

Abusing security features is a common theme at most Black Hat events, and at Black Hat USA 2016, one of the most interesting sessions is a talk titled "Certificate Bypass: Hiding and Executing Malware from a Digitally Signed Executable," from Deep Insight security researcher Tom Nipravsky. In his talk, Nipravsky will detail how he was able to bypass Microsoft security for digitally signed applications.

Bypassing the security of antivirus vendors is also a theme this year, and in a talk titled "Captain Hook: Pirating AVs to Bypass Exploit Mitigations," researchers from security firm enSilo will detail vulnerabilities they reported to multiple antivirus vendors in how they hook into the Windows operating system.


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