Every summer, Las Vegas is invaded by white-hats, black-hats and every shade of grey-hat for the annual Black Hat USA conference. It’s one of my favorite events of the year because it is provides an opportunity to discuss the security issues facing our world from both a technical and business perspective, as well as touch on some of the political issues facing security. We also get to see some pretty cool exploits and new defense techniques.
These are a few of the key themes and highlights I’m looking forward to at this year’s event:
Software development lifecycle
Over the last twelve months of speaking with clients and prospects, I’ve noticed a slight move left in terms of how companies are thinking about securing the applications that power their businesses. Security is no longer the problem of the IT department, it is becoming a quality and development issue. I expect to see more talks this year covering the trend of DevOps and how the move to continuous deployment is impacting security. I also anticipate hearing the phrase SecDevOps or DevSecOps many times as I sit in on sessions and speak with attendees at the show.
Car Hacking – attacking the CAN bus
Ever since Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek demonstrated they could hack a Jeep Cherokee, the idea of car hacking has become a staple at Black Hat. Cars today are almost made up of more software than mechanical components, and the more cars become connected, the more opportunity there is to “take over” vehicles. During this year’s conference I’ll be watching demonstrations and proof of concepts on how to attack the Controller Area Network (CAN) bus, which would allow an attacker to manipulate various electronically-controlled systems in connected cars. Because the CAN bus is the standard design for allowing embedded devices inside connected cars to talk to each other without the use of a host computer, it is the logical attack point for those looking to control connected cars. This sort of “stunt-hacking” is popular because it is sensational, and at the same time, demonstrates that the more connected we are, the more vulnerable we become.
Understanding Windows 10 internals and attack surface
Microsoft Windows is a favorite whipping boy of security researchers, mostly because it is so widely used. The release of Windows 10 Anniversary is scheduled to occur during the conference. However, in the hopes of squashing bugs early, Microsoft invited security researchers to participate in their internal bug bash back in mid-June. This, plus the recent discovery of the Windows 'BadTunnel' attack, which allowed criminals to hijack network traffic, makes for the perfect storm of presentations examining the internals and attack surface of the popular operating system.
Attacking IoT and industrial IoT
For a while the prevailing thought amongst consumers was “why would anyone try to attack my thermostat?” But as the reach of Internet of Things continues to grow, we are seeing a proliferation of industrial systems connected to Internet of Things devices. As a result, the world is starting to realize what we in the security industry knew all along: If something is connected to the Internet, it is a target. Last year there were five sessions devoted to Internet of Things; this year, the number is 13, ranging from proof-of-concept attacks to theoretical discussions on why the Internet of Things creates new security challenges for businesses, individuals, and critical infrastructure.
AWS deployments: Offense and defense
There is no longer any doubt: the world is moving to the cloud, and the most popular cloud platform is Amazon Web Services. During the conference, I’ll be taking in discussions on how to deploy AWS securely as well as talks on how to successfully attack these deployments. It should make for an interesting comparison to see if the way we are talking about protecting AWS is the same way attackers are talking about infiltrating AWS. I am also interested to see what the gap between our protective measures and attack methods looks like.
Over the years, Black Hat has morphed from a little show dedicated to security researchers to a conference that attracts everyone from black-hat hackers to the FBI as well as C-level security professionals. The conference will be a great chance to observe how the dynamic between these groups shifts, what topics they find most interesting, and how companies are thinking about security versus how attackers are thinking about exploits.
Related Black Hat 2016 Content:
- Dark Reading Launches Best Of Black Hat Awards Program; Finalists Selected
- Hacking A Penetration Tester
- NATO Ambassador: How The Ukraine Crisis Fits Cyber War Narrative
- The Newbie’s 'How To Survive Black Hat' Guide