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Black Hat USA 2016: Digital Communication Security

In a global population of 7.395 billion people, 3.419 billion people are internet users and of those, 2.307 billion people communicate via social media (according to the study "Digital in 2016" by We Are Social). Since a large portion of the world's population communicates using the internet, cyber security is a priority for users.

An Inconvenient Trust: User Attitudes Toward Security and Usability Tradeoffs for Key-Directory Encryption Systems reveals that digital communications providers must use end-to-end encryption to improve security for online users. Historically, end-to-end encryption has proven extremely difficult for people to use correctly, but recently tools like Apple's iMessage and Google's End-to-End have made it more broadly accessible by using key-directory services. However, these tools (and others like them) sacrifice some security properties for convenience, which alarms some security experts. This Briefing explores the trade-offs between convenience and security, from the end-user perspective, and what the implications may be.

Moving beyond the encryption discussion, into the social engineering realm, Exploiting Curiosity and Context: How to make People Click on a Dangerous Link Despite Their Security Awareness describes how hackers will attempt to retrieve your personal information by leading you to click on malware-infected links sent to your email or through social media. This presentation looks at experiments conducted to determine the reason online users clicked on a link from an unrecognizable source. Malicious links were sent to 1,700 university students via email or a Facebook message from an unknown sender, claiming the link led to pictures of a party from the previous week. Once the data was collected, participants were sent a survey to assess their overall security awareness and asked about their clicking behavior. This talk offers a deep look at the factors that can make almost anyone click on a dangerous link.

Another threat that can compromise online user security through digital interactions is spear phishing. Weaponizing Data Science For Social Engineering: Automated E2E Spear Phishing On Twitter informs attendees of the threats a neural network presents by tweeting phishing posts targeting specific users. Social media in general, especially Twitter, offers hackers an opportunity to access extensive user data. Twitter’s vulnerabilities consist of its bot-friendly API, colloquial syntax, and shortened link features that make the platform ideal for spreading malicious content. In order to generate appealing tweets for a specific user, the machine is trained to conduct spear phishing pen-testing to extract topics from the user's timeline and from the people the user follows or retweets. This talk discloses the dangers of spear phishing on Twitter.

Digital communication, while growing in popularity, has its tradeoffs in regards to security. If you're interested in gaining insight into how skilled hackers attempt to retrieve personal information online, check out Advanced Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) Techniques. This Training provides multiple free online resources that surpass typical searching restrictions, making it easy to dig for user information from any platform, including social channels. Participants will be able to recognize the strategies hackers potentially use to access their private information and in turn, understand how to enhance security for their own digital interactions.

Beyond just digital communications, Black Hat USA 2016 will cover the full spectrum of information security so be sure to check out all of our Briefings and Trainings and plan to join us at Black Hat USA 2016 July 30-August 4 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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