Category Archives: General

My Journey North

As many of you know, I usually spend my summers in northern Ontario paddling the beautiful lakes and rivers. Since I will be leaving for Canada in a few days, I figured I should post an entry letting my many (ha!) readers know that I will be off until late August. This means that progress on my projects will stall until I return and get situated, and any emails will not be responded to for a while.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful summer, and can find some time to relax and enjoy nature’s beauty when we are all surrounded by man made structures. I plan on taking many pictures during my summer sabbatical and am excited to swap stories in the fall.

Peace and chow,


P.S. Seitan tastes much better than it looks!

Git and Wiki Wide Web

I admit it, I’ve finally jumped on the Git bandwagon. After toying with SVN and Darcs, I was convinced when I saw a screen-cast about branching and merging and how it makes the kind of random, skitzo programming that I do very easy and very maintainable. I started using it at work to keep track of some files as a test and finally bit the bullet and signed up for a GitHub account. Once I had gotten setup, I made a few repositories to upload some code I had made for my high school senior project, code that I haven’t looked at in years and probably never will again. Then I decided to share something a bit more exciting, Wiki Wide Web‘s bleeding edge source code. After some quick review to ensure I cleared the code of any hard coded passwords, I committed the source.

One thing I like about putting your code on a site like GitHub is that it guilts you into cleaning it up. If you hope that people are going to see it, then you feel slightly pushed to make an effort to clean it up. That pressure lead me to add some installation instructions and a make file for the Firefox extension, and clean up some code.

Peace and chow,


Black Hat DC Day 2

Now that I knew what I was in for, the second day of Black Hat DC took quite a bit less adjusting to, I felt more okay to skip parts of a presentation to chat was presenters, which I did after the Tor presentation.

In the morning, Dan Kaminsky gave a brief review of the DNS exploit he found last year, and the current status of the source port randomization patch. The estimate for patch coverage was about 60% of DNS servers, though the unpatched servers are being pretty actively exploited. He also clarified his stance on DNSSEC, that he’s neutral to the technology, but feels that it can provide end to end trust, something that DNSCurve cannot do, and has a higher chance of being accepted on the root since it doesn’t require pre-operation cryptography. A big implementation hurdle that he sees is for the deployment of DNSSEC servers to be turn-key and not require extra maintenance or knowledge to use.

The following presentation was an interesting one that provided a technical solution to a political problem, how to share data without compromising the data privacy, and without letting the data sharing knowing what is being searched for.

After that, a researcher from Vietnam showed how to break the facial recognition software built into laptops. Simply by taking a photo of the user, and editing it for proper lighting and tones. I got to be the lovely assistant in this presentation, enrolling my face into one of his laptops, then having him take my picture through a Skype chat, then using that picture to unlock the computer. This got the crowd laughing and very impressed with how this technology can actually sell.

The presentation on Tor did very little for me, the research was of marginal value, but the talk after with the presenter and the creator of Tor was eye opening. The most important thing I brought back from that talk was that Tor is not meant to protect you from big brother, but to keep you anonymous from the sites you are browsing, and your ISP. After I saw that shift, I was able to accept the many attacks that have come out of the woodwork over the past few years, and finally put Tor in the proper place in my cyber tool chest.

Finally, the memory snorting presentation was very slick, it seemed to be a very clever way to reuse the signature data already in existence, and be able to both analyze a saved memory dump, and also potentially find malicious code before it hits the wire.

Overall, the show was a blast, and I hope to have the privilege of attending sometime in the future.

Peace and chow,


Black Hat DC Day 1

My first day at Black Hat was pretty neat, I learned quite a bit, and I had my expectations shifted around. Originally, I was expecting the presentations to be the core aspect of the conference, and everything else on the sidelines. I quickly learned that the presentations are just a small part of the greater networking and information exchange going on.

The keynote was very interesting as it wasn’t technical in the least, but more a call for discourse about the tough questions that the country needs to ask about how the government and private sector need to work together to protect the country’s cyber resources. It also brought to light a question regarding cyber weapons, and who is responsible to clean up the online equivalent of a Katrina.

Moxie’s presentation on defeating HTTPS was interesting, but was more leveraging holes in other aspects of the network to gain control of an SSL tunnel. Why clever and very neat to see in action, it didn’t blow me away nor was it particularly ground breaking.

After Moxie’s talk, I spent a while chatting with Dan about the advantages of DNSSEC versus DNSCurve and how take the strengths of each to find a happy medium. I hope to implement his suggestions into LadieBug (which he thought was a bad name to have ‘bug’ in the name).

I left half way through the Mac OSX presentation since it was pretty useless. The presenter assumes you have access to a Mac and can run arbitrary code/modify binaries. From my perspective, one you’ve got that, the game is pretty much over.

After lunch I made my way to the packed room where the gang from the Invisible Things Lab talked about their TXT exploit. This was a highly anticipated talk, and I must say I personally was slightly disappointed. While their findings were interesting, due to their deal with Intel, they basically gave an overview of TXT and then talking about the Q35 hack in more detail, which is old news. Esentially, the summary of their findings were that TXT doesn’t check the SMM handler, and they disassembled the handler and found a number of bugs. The need for Dual Monitor Mode or an STM as they called it seems needed, but perhaps more eyes on the SMM handler code to help find bugs.

Hailing from AFIT, the speaker for the SecureQEMU project gave an overview of using emulation to encrypt and sign code that can’t be modified from the guest. While impressive that they managed to get it working on an unmodified OS, it was slow, and not a very complex concept.

Last, but not least was a just for fun talk on satellite hacking. This one had the room laughing for much of the hour while the speaker showed us a live demo of decoding a stream from a satellite over Africa. He then showed us how laughable the security in the RFID passports is, easily cloning and modifing his son’s passport to have Osama Bin Laden’s face, and doing a MitM attack using two $15 RFID readers/emulators.

That’s all for today, check back tomorrow for a review of the next set of briefings, and as always I’ll be updating regularly on Twitter.

Peace and chow,


Time Really Flies!

I just made the discovery the other day that I’ve been on co-op for over a month, and time shows no sign of slowing down! For those of you who haven’t had the delight of hearing me expound on how much I love my co-op, I have really found a place where I fit in, am challenged everyday, and don’t have to do any tedious work, just cutting edge security research!

Anyways, now that I’ve gotten that over with, I was up at Clarkson the other week for the career fair, and I went up the night before for the COSI meeting. That evening a new member introduced a new project to add easy to use AI libraries to the Processing language. I thought that is might be a good idea to take a look at AI stuff before I take the class when I return, so I’m excited to dive in and learn what I can! Also, after learning how little I really know about virtualization, and seeing how popular it is, I thought I’d like to jump on the bandwagon and learn about it. Last night I bought Running Xen and its sister book The Definitive Guide to Xen and I proposed (through Zach) that to learn more about it, I’d like to form a rag tag groups of hackers and write our own, open-source virtualization application, whatever that entails. I hope to post soon as I start learning what I’m in for.

Peace and chow,