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Security

DARPA Will Stage an AI Fight in Las Vegas For DEF CON (yahoo.com) 89

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: "A bunch of computers will try to hack each other in Vegas for a $2 million prize," reports Tech Insider calling it a "historic battle" that will coincide with "two of the biggest hacking conferences, Blackhat USA and DEFCON". DARPA will supply seven teams with a supercomputer. Their challenge? Create an autonomous A.I. system that can "hunt for security vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to attack a computer, create a fix that patches that vulnerability and distribute that patch -- all without any human interference."

"The idea here is to start a technology revolution," said Mike Walker, DARPA's manager for the Cyber Grand Challenge contest. Yahoo Tech notes that it takes an average of 312 days before security vulnerabilities are discovered -- and 24 days to patch it. "if all goes well, the CGC could mean a future where you don't have to worry about viruses or hackers attacking your computer, smartphone or your other connected devices. At a national level, this technology could help prevent large-scale attacks against things like power plants, water supplies and air-traffic infrastructure.

It's being billed as "the world's first all-machine hacking tournament," with a prize of $2 million for the winner, while the second and third place tem will win $1 million and $750,000.
Communications

Snowden Finally Identified As Target of Investigation That Ended Lavabit (washingtontimes.com) 77

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Washington Times: Three years after a government investigation forced the shuttering of Lavabit, a Texas-based email provider, its CEO revealed Friday that an account belonging to Edward Snowden spurred the probe that put his company out of business. "Ladar Levison shut down his encrypted webmail service in August 2013 amid an FBI investigation focused on one of his company's nearly half-a-million customers," reports The Washington Times. "A gag-order that has just recently been vacated in federal has legally prevented him up until now from confirming the account in question was registered to none other than the NSA contractor attributed with one of the largest intelligence leaks in U.S. history. U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton nullified the mandatory non-disclosure orders in a June 13 court filing that went unnoticed until Lavabit released a statement Friday. Officially, the consent order approved by Judge Hilton in the Eastern District of Virginia earlier this month removes all gag-orders concerning Lavabit and Mr. Levison with regards to a grand jury investigation that led the FBI to Mr. Snowdenâ(TM)s email account. 'While Iâ(TM)m pleased that I can finally speak freely about the target of the investigation, I also know the fight to protect our collective freedom is far from over,' Mr. Levison said in a statement. He said he plans to discuss the case further during the DefCon security conference in Las Vegas this summer."
Android

Hotel Experience With Android Lightswitches (dreamwidth.org) 111

jones_supa writes: The hotel in which Matthew Garrett was staying at, had decided that light switches are unfashionable and replaced them with a series of Android tablets. In his tour to the system, one was quickly met with a glitch message "UK_bathroom isn't responding." Anyway, two of the tablets had convenient-looking ethernet cables plugged into the wall, so MacGyver began hacking. He managed to borrow a couple of USB ethernet adapters, set up a transparent bridge and then stick his laptop between the tablet and the wall. Tcpdump showed traffic, and Wireshark revealed that it was Modbus over TCP. Modbus is a pretty trivial protocol, and does not implement authentication. The Pymodbus tool could be used to control lights, turn the TV on/off, and even close and open the curtains. Then he noticed something. His room number was 714. The IP address he was communicating with was 172.16.207.14. They wouldn't, would they? Indeed, he could access the control systems on every floor and query other rooms to figure out whether the lights were on or not, which strongly implies that he could control them as well.
Encryption

John McAfee Offers To Decrypt San Bernardino iPhone For the FBI and Save America (hothardware.com) 364

MojoKid writes: Wondering what John McAfee is up to these days? It's not sniffing bath salts nor is he fleeing foreign countries as a person of interest in a murder investigation and faking heart attacks (been there, done all that) ; instead, he's on a mission to save America. How so? By cracking the code on the San Bernardino iPhone that's causing such a ruckus. McAfee didn't just criticize the FBI; instead he offered a potential solution. Let him and his team of hackers break into the iPhone without any help from Apple. "With all due respect to Tim Cook and Apple, I work with a team of the best hackers on the planet. These hackers attend Defcon in Las Vegas, and they are legends in their local hacking groups, such as HackMiami. They are all prodigies, with talents that defy normal human comprehension," McAfee said. Eccentric rant aside, McAfee's offer is simple - give him three weeks and he will, "free of charge, decrypt the information on the San Bernardino phone" with his team of hackers. He'll do it using mostly social engineering.
Worms

Thunderstrike2 Details Revealed 65

An anonymous reader writes: Prior to DefCon and BlackHat, we learned that Trammell Hudson had developed a firmware worm for Apple machines that could spread over Thunderbolt hardware accessories. Now that both conferences have finished, Hudson has published slides and an annotated transcript detailing how the worm works.

A brief quote: "Thunderstrike 2 takes advantage of four older, previously disclosed vulnerabilities. These had all been known and fixed on other platforms, but not on Apple's MacBooks. ... Speed Racer (Incorrect BIOS_CNTL configuration, 2014, VU#766164), Darth Venamis (S3 boot script injection, 2014, VU#976132) Snorlax (Flash configuration is not set after S3 sleep, 2013 VU#577140) and PrinceHarming (2015) Unsigned Option ROMs (2007, 2012). ... While we're looking at Apple specifically in this research, the overall message is that many vendors are not keeping up to date and are not responding to CERT, especially if it requires effort to port or test vulnerabilities from other vendor platforms."
The Internet

Hacker Shows How To Fabricate Death Records 46

wiredmikey writes: Hackers the Def Con gathering in Las Vegas on Friday got schooled in how to be online "killers." A rush to go digital with the process of registering deaths has made it simple for maliciously minded folks to have someone who is alive declared dead by the authorities. The process of having someone officially stamped dead by getting a death certificate issued typically involves a doctor filling out one form and a funeral home filling out another, according to Rock's research. Once forms are submitted online, certificates declaring the listed person legally dead are generated. A fatal flaw in the system is that people can easily pose as real doctors and funeral directors.
Wireless Networking

ProxyHam Debunked and Demoed At DEFCON 38

darthcamaro writes: Last month, the ProxyHam project talk for DEFCON was mysteriously cancelled. In its place as a later edition is a new talk, in which the ProxyHam approach will be detailed and debunked — in a session called '"HamSammich". In a video preview of the talk, Rob Graham and Dave Maynor detail the flaws of ProxyHam and how to do the same thing with off the shelf gear, legally. "Our goal is to show that ProxyHam did not actually enhance security," Maynor said. "It does the exact opposite, causing more trouble than you can fix."
Security

Researchers Create Mac "Firmworm" That Spreads Via Thunderbolt Ethernet Adapters 119

BIOS4breakfast writes: Wired reports that later this week at BlackHat and Defcon, Trammell Hudson will show the Thunderstrike 2 update to his Thunderstrike attack on Mac firmware (previously covered on Slashdot). Trammell teamed up with Xeno Kovah and Corey Kallenberg from LegbaCore, who have previously shown numerous exploits for PC firmware. They found multiple vulnerabilities that were already publicly disclosed were still present in Mac firmware. This allows a remote attacker to break into the Mac over the network, and infect its firmware. The infected firmware can then infect Apple Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapters' PCI Option ROM. And then those adapters can infect the firmware of any Mac they are plugged into — hence creating the self-propagating Thunderstrike 2 "firmworm." Unlike worms like Stuxnet, it never exists on the filesystem, it only ever lives in firmware (which no one ever checks.) A video showing the proof of concept attack is posted on YouTube.
Security

Tools Coming To Def Con For Hacking RFID Access Doors 27

jfruh writes: Next month's Def Con security conference will feature, among other things, new tools that will help you hack into the RFID readers that secure doors in most office buildings. RFID cards have been built with more safeguards against cloning; these new tools will bypass that protection by simply hacking the readers themselves. ITWorld reports that Francis Brown, a partner at the computer security firm Bishop Fox, says: "...his aim is to make it easier for penetration testers to show how easy it is to clone employee badges, break into buildings and plant network backdoors—without needing an electrical engineering degree to decode the vagaries of near-field communication (NFC) and RFID systems."
Security

Hacker Set To Demonstrate 60 Second Brinks Safe Hack At DEFCON 147

darthcamaro writes: Ok so we know that Chrysler cars will be hacked at Black Hat, Android will be hacked at DEFCON with Stagefright, and now word has come out that a pair of security researchers plan on bringing a Brinks safe onstage at DEFCON to demonstrate how it can be digitally hacked. No this isn't some kind of lockpick, but rather a digital hack, abusing the safe's exposed USB port. And oh yeah, it doesn't hurt that the new safe is running Windows XP either.
Privacy

Anonymizing Wi-Fi Device Project Unexpectedly Halted 138

An anonymous reader notes that a project to develop an anonymizing Wi-Fi device has been canceled under mysterious circumstances. The device, called Proxyham, was unveiled a couple weeks ago by Rhino Security Labs. They said it would use low-frequency radio channels to connect a computer to public Wi-Fi hotspots up to 2.5 miles away, thus obscuring a user's actual location. But a few days ago the company announced it would be halting development and canceling a talk about it at Def Con, which would have been followed with a release of schematics and source code. They apologized, but appear to be unable to say anything further.

"In fact, all [the speaker] can say is that the talk is canceled, the ProxyHam source code and documentation will never be made public, and the ProxyHam units developed for Las Vegas have been destroyed. The banner at the top of the Rhino Security website promoting ProxyHam has gone away too. It's almost as if someone were trying to pretend the tool never existed." The CSO article speculates that a government agency killed the project and issued a gag order about it. A post at Hackaday calls this idea absurd and discusses the hardware needed to build a Proxyham. They say using it would be "a violation of the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act, and using encryption over radio violates FCC regulations. That’s illegal, it will get you a few federal charges — but so will blowing up a mailbox with some firecrackers." They add, "What you’re seeing is just the annual network security circus and it’s nothing but a show."
United States

DARPA's $4M Cyber-Threat Clash Down To Seven Challengers 23

coondoggie writes: When it began a year ago, there were 104 teams competing for $4 million in prize money in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)'s ambitious tournament — known as the Cyber Grand Challenge (CGC) — to see who can build the best fully automatic network defense system. This week DARPA said that after a couple dry runs and a significant qualifying event the field of CGC teams is down to seven who will now compete in the final battle slated to take place at DEFCON in Las Vegas in August 2016.
Security

FBI Releases Its Files On DEF CON: Not Amused By Spot-the-Fed 102

v3rgEz writes: Not surprisingly, the FBI has compiled reports on notorious hacker gathering DEF CON, now released thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request. The files detail the lack of amusement at the Spot-the-Fed game, as well as which conference tracks attract the most interest. "In a bit of FOIrony, the file contains a copy of the Spot the Fed contest rules, including the facetious aside to feds offering t-shirts in exchange for agency coffee mugs."
Crime

Silk Road 2.0 Seized By FBI, Alleged Founder Arrested In San Francisco 219

blottsie writes The FBI has arrested the online persona "Defcon," identified as Blake Benthall, a 26-year-old in San Francisco, who the agency claims ran the massive online black market Silk Road 2.0. Benthall's FBI arrest comes a year after that of Ross Ulbricht, also from San Francisco, who's the alleged mastermind of the original Silk Road and still awaiting trial. The largest of those reported down is Silk Road 2.0. But a host of smaller markets also seized by law enforcement include Appaca, BlueSky, Cloud9, Hydra, Onionshop, Pandora, and TheHub. Also at Ars Technica.
Communications

Ryan Lackey, Marc Rogers Reveal Inexpensive Tor Router Project At Def Con 38

An anonymous reader writes Ryan Lackey of CloudFlare and Marc Rogers of Lookout revealed a new OPSEC device at Def Con called PORTAL (Personal Onion Router to Assure Liberty). It "provides always-on Tor routing, as well as 'pluggable' transport for Tor that can hide the service's traffic signature from some deep packet inspection systems." In essence, PORTAL is a travel router that the user simply plugs into their existing device for more than basic Tor protection (counterpoint to PogoPlug Safeplug and Onion Pi). On the down side, you have to download PORTAL from Github and flash it "onto a TP-Link compatible packet router." The guys behind the device acknowledge that not many people may want to (or even know how to) do that, so they're asking everyone to standby because a solution is pending. The project's GitHub page has a README file that lists compatible models, with some caveats: "It is highly recommended to use a modified router. The modified MR11U and WR703N provide a better experience than the stock routers due to the additional RAM. The severe space constraints of the stock router make them very challenging to work with. Due to the lack of usable space, it is necessary to use an external disk to store the Tor packages. The stock router has only a single USB port, and the best option is to use a microSD in a 3G modem." (Note: Lackey is no stranger to helping people secure internet privacy.)
Security

DEFCON's Latest Challenge: Hacking Altruism 47

jfruh writes: A casual observer at the latest DEFCON conference in Las Vegas might not have noticed much change from last year — still tons of leather, piercing, and body art, still groups of men gathered in darkened ballrooms furiously typing commands. But this year there's a new focus: hacking not just for the lulz, but focusing specifically on highlighting computer security problems that have the potential to do real-world physical harm to human beings.
Security

Silent Circle's Blackphone Exploited at Def Con 46

Def Con shows no mercy. As gleefully reported by sites several Blackberry-centric sites, researcher Justin Case yesterday demonstrated that he could root the much-heralded Blackphone in less than five minutes. From n4bb.com's linked report: "However, one of the vulnerabilities has already been patched and the other only exploitable with direct user consent. Nevertheless, this only further proves you cannot add layers of security on top of an underlying platform with security vulnerabilities." Case reacts via Twitter to the crowing: "Hey BlackBerry idiots, stop miss quoting me on your blogs. Your phone is only "secure" because it has few users and little value as a target."
Privacy

John McAfee Airs His Beefs About Privacy In Def Con Surprise Talk 124

John McAfee made a surprise appearance at Def Con to talk about privacy: he's for it. Trouble is, he says, lots of companies feel otherwise, and he took the stage to single out "don't be evil" Google: “Google, or at least certain people within Google, I will not mention names because I am not a rude gentleman, would like us to believe that if we have nothing to hide, we should not mind if everybody knows everything that we do,” he said from the podium. “I have to take serious issue with that.” The BBC has video. McAfee also announced his new complaints website, The Brown List. (Good usernames are still available, and your complaint can be about anything, not just privacy violations by humongous corporations.)
Security

The CIA Does Las Vegas 124

Nicola Hahn (1482985) writes Despite the long line of covert operations that Ed Snowden's documents have exposed, public outcry hasn't come anywhere near the level of social unrest that characterized the 1960s. Journalists like Conor Friedersdorf have suggested that one explanation for this is that the public is "informed by a press that treats officials who get caught lying and misleading (e.g., James Clapper and Keith Alexander) as if they're credible."

Certainly there are a number of well-known popular venues which offer a stage for spies to broadcast their messages from while simultaneously claiming to "cultivate conversations among all members of the security community, both public and private." This year, for instance, Black Hat USA will host Dan Greer (the CISO of In-Q-Tel) as a keynote speaker.

But after all of the lies and subterfuge is it even constructive to give voice to the talking points of intelligence officials? Or are they just muddying the water? As one observer put it, "high-profile members of the intelligence community like Cofer Black, Shawn Henry, Keith Alexander, and Dan Greer are positioned front and center in keynote slots, as if they were glamorous Hollywood celebrities. While those who value their civil liberties might opine that they should more aptly be treated like pariahs."

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