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Attack of the Black Hats

Get ready, Vegas - with this crew in town, even the slot machines aren't safe

10:45 AM -- They work toward it all year: The most devious minds in the industry come up with the most dangerous security vulnerabilities and exploits they can find -- and then they get together and share them.

Next week in Las Vegas, some of the world's smartest and most cunning researchers will convene at Black Hat USA 2007. During two days' worth of presentations, security managers will get more to worry about than in a year's worth of Patch Tuesdays.

We've seen previews of some of the vulnerabilities already. On Wednesday, renowned researcher HD Moore explained how he plans to demonstrate powerful hacking techniques that neither exploit unpatched vulnerabilities nor zero-day bugs. Apparently, now even fully-patched systems aren't safe. (See Hacking Without Exploits.)

Meanwhile, researchers at Watchfire offered a peek at their discovery of a means to hack a broad range of applications using a common programming error called a "dangling pointer." Their discovery raises some serious questions about software bugs that have previously been overlooked because they didn't appear to have security implications. (See Pointing to Danger.)

And last week, researchers gave us a look at some holes in so-called "data leak prevention" tools, an emerging class of products that has received a lot of hype but still needs a lot of work. A pair of researchers at Black Hat will demonstrate multiple types of flaws in various vendors' DLP products that would let an attacker evade them, alter their records of stolen data, and even use them to bot-infect client machines. (See Black Hat: DLP Hack.)

These are just the tip of the iceberg. A look at the Black Hat schedule of briefings lets you walk through abstracts of a wide range of exploits, including one guy who says he can hack computers without ever touching a keyboard.

We hope that many of you will be able to attend the Black Hat sessions in person, but for those who can't, Dark Reading will be your eyes and ears in the coming week. When you pull up our site next week, you'll see a special news section containing all of our coverage of Black Hat -- including the stories we've already covered, as well as our up-to-the-minute coverage from Las Vegas. Later in the week, we'll also have some new video that will give you a view of what's happening at the show. A number of Black Hat video interviews and features will follow in the weeks to come.

Hold onto your black hats, security pros, it's going to be a scary ride. And a note to the casino operators in Vegas: Keep a close eye on your electronic networks. With these clever devils in town, anything could be fair game.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

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