Black Hats Focus on Apps

DC convention shows security researchers are shifting away from network infrastructure - and toward applications



Last summer's Black Hat convention in Las Vegas was a feast of attack vectors ranging from device driver flaws to network vulnerabilities to holes in copiers and printers. As the black hats prepare to meet again in Washington, D.C. next week, however, there is one clear theme: applications.

Of the 22 "briefings" scheduled for the convocation of security researchers Wed. and Thurs., 13 deal directly with issues and flaws related to applications. The schedule reinforces experts' assertions that attackers -- and the researchers who follow them -- are shifting their attention away from traditional network infrastructure vectors and focusing on software, where holes are easier to find.

Three of the sessions deal with databases, particularly Oracle. David Litchfield will present a session on advanced Oracle attack techniques, and Amichai Shulman, co-founder and CTO of Imperva, will discuss exploitable flaws in database communications protocols. Security researcher Cesar Cerrudo will do a live audit of Oracle's latest and most secure release, Oracle 10gR2, to see if he can expose vulnerabilities in the software.

Web applications will also be under the microscope. Michael Sutton, security evangelist at SPI Dynamics, will present a session on fuzzing tools for detecting vulnerabilities in applications -- an approach that has long been popular in the networking space. Consultants Chuck Willis and Rohyt Beranyi will offer a look at Web application incident response and forensics, an area where many companies are seeking skills as the number of attacks increase.

Some of the Black Hat presenters will discuss software problems where they occur most often: in the development process. Experts from Mitre will make recommendations on new standards the company is proposing for secure development.

"The secure software development community is developing a standard dictionary of the weaknesses that lead to exploitable software vulnerabilities," according to Mitre's presentation abstract. "The Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) and related efforts are intended to serve as a unifying language of discourse, and act as a measuring stick for comparing the tools and services that analyze software for security issues."

The conference will be keynoted by Jim Christy, director of futures exploration for the Department of Defense's Cyber Crime Center.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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