Forget for a moment that the following video is a trailer for an upcoming Tom Clancy game, because it’s beautifully done and highlights a real danger that our world faces as we rely more and more of increasingly fragile systems and infrastructure. I think the things depicted in the video are a far bigger threat than things like terrorism, yet are hardly addressed today.
For those of you actually interested in the game, this gameplay trailer looks pretty cool.
The first thing people think when you tell them you’re a Penetration Tester:
What people think when you tell them you’re a Pen Tester:
Protip: Go with the first one.
I know I’ve been pretty bad with posting recently, but I’m hoping to rectify that soon. It’s been a hectic year, and haven’t had as much time to blog as before. Got a couple reviews and articles in the pipeline, and will soon be updating my guide on Security Mac OS X for Mountain Lion.
Watch this space! :)
Update: Now that SOPA has been put on the back burner, the next thing to protest is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), an international treaty which could have massive repercussions on the freedom of the internet.
Update 2 (5 July 2012): ACTA rejected by EU :)
Anyone who follows Security Generation will know that I’m a big advocate of civil liberties and freedom in general. The internet is currently a multicultural and multimedia hub of information, ideas, creativity and innovation, and there is a risk this could be irrevocably changed. Granted there is also a lot of crap on the internet, but freedom works both ways. Whilst the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) intend to reduce piracy on the net, in reality they would hand vast amounts of power over to industry copyright holders, who would then have the ability to have sites blocked and content taken down, inhibit free speech and bring . For more information about all of this, check out this good summary article.
Due to the threat that these acts would pose to the open internet, many large internet companies have stated their opposition including Google, Yahoo!, Twitter, eBay, and Wikimedia, as well as civil liberties groups such as the ACLU and the EFF. On January 18, these and countless other blogs and sites, including Security Generation, will be protesting this legislation by blacking out (read: censor) parts of their sites and educating users about the danger of american censorship.
If you have a blog or website, you’re encouraged to add your voice to the cause. CloudFlare users will be able to easily participate just by enabling the new Stop Censorship app, which will black out large chunks of text on your site, and inform your users about the dangers presented by this type of legislation. WordPress users without CloudFlare can also join in by installing one of the many Stop SOPA/PIPA plugins.
This is my favorite anti-SOPA song so far:
I’ve been into lockpicking for a few years now, and I’m surprised I’ve never posted more about it (maybe I will). Suffice it to say that lockpicking is great fun, you learn a lot, and one day it may come in handy (legally of course). One thing I’ve noticed whenever I talk about lockpicking, is that most people -including techies – have very little clue about how locks themselves actually work. It’s no surprise then that lockpicking feels like a bit of mystery to many. In reality the majority of locks are very simple devices, and many can be picked or bypassed using fairly simple tools.
I had the pleasure of taking part in the Defcon 19 Gringo Warrior contest where participants must bypass a series of locks to ‘escape’. It’s scored based on time and difficult of locks picked. I scored about above average. In this post I’m going to give my own shotgun intro to lockpicking, and provide some videos and links to other useful references where you can go find more detail.
The complexity of passwords is indeed something that has recently flipped into the realm of impossibility for us humans. In order to get any kind of decent cracking-resistant password these days you’re probably looking at having a password of at least 15 characters, making heavy use of uppercase, lowercase, symbols, etc. Very few people will be willing to commit that to memory, and if they do, they’ll be even less likely to change it on a regular basis.
The XKCD comic below shows that point pretty simply. It’s not actually that bad to use dictionary words, as long as they’re unrelated and you chain many of them together. The reason this works is because instead of picking from a character set of 26 letters, 10 digits and 20 symbols (total=56), you’re now selecting from a character set that is as large as the dictionary (~150,000 words). If you select four words of about 5 characters or more, the potential keyspace an attacker has to guess will be enormous – especially if you throw in a few symbols for good measure ;)
I recently ordered some new credit cards, two sets of two (makin’ it rain baby), and they arrived in the post today in two separate envelopes. National Australia Bank (NAB) send out their cards in unmarked white envelopes, which is good, what’s not so good is that the embossed number on the card gets permanently imprinted into the plastic window of the envelope – presumably due to the pressure of having other envelopes on top of it. As a result, with the right lighting, I was able to read the full card number before I even opened the envelope (blurry snapshot below). It’s probably worth noting that the number will still be legible after the recipient has disposed of the envelope in the trash.
One can argue that having just the card number on its own is not as useful. But remember you’re holding an addressed envelope, so you have the cardholder’s name and address, including post code. You also know the start date on the card, which will almost always be the current month (sometimes the following month), and due to the fact that most credit cards have a lifespan of three years, you can also deduce the year of expiry. The month of expiry may or may not be the same as the start month. The only thing missing is the CVV, but then again there are still plenty of places that don’t require those. With just the card number, an attacker could clone it onto a fake credit card, and start using it in shops with any random signature.
Although this post is intended to be tongue-in-cheek, it probably wouldn’t hurt for NAB (or their card printing company) to fix this ‘vulnerability’. What would PCI say? :D
The planets and stars have aligned, and it turns out I’ll be at BlackHat and Defcon this year! I’ve never gone, although I’ve been wanting to for many years, so it’s definitely an exciting first for me. My awesome gf pushed me to finally go ;) There are plenty of people from the security community that I know online, but I’m eager to finally meet them in person. Any of you guys (or gals) going? I’m currently on the hunt for some decent Defcon parties; hook me up if you know of any! Las Vegas baby, here we come.
Not a significant milestone, but I only just realised that it’s been already been a year since I started up the new Security Generation. One year, 164 posts, 1500-odd tweets, and much rambling later, I hope that you’ve found some of the content useful!
Many thanks to those of you who are regular visitors, and welcome to those of you who hopefully will be ;) Always happy to hear from readers either by email or in the comments.
I’m still adjusting the style of the content on this site, but you can probably look forward to more articles as well as tutorial-style posts. Any feedback is welcomed.
Things have been fairly busy recently, so haven’t had the time to post as much. But hoping to get a few articles on here very soon, so stay tuned!