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03:26 PM
John H. Sawyer
John H. Sawyer

DEFCON: Bridging The Gap Between Hardware And Software Hacking

I got into hardware hacking as a kid, but never quite stuck with. Electronics weren't safe back then, and I often bridged that world with the physical to give my G.I. Joe something new conquer. That interest has been renewed.

I got into hardware hacking as a kid, but never quite stuck with. Electronics weren't safe back then, and I often bridged that world with the physical to give my G.I. Joe something new conquer. That interest has been renewed.After the Capture the Flag competition ended a couple of years ago at DEFCON, I wandered into the Hardware Hacking Village, where someone showed me the proper way to solder a USB port onto the conference badge. Soldering was something I'd tried and done quite poorly in the past, so I was excited to learn how to do it well and use something I'd never heard of before -- solder braid.

Last year, I delved a bit further into the hardware world by buying an Arduino kit and several "shields" for prototyping and adding network connectivity to the device. Following the nice guide from Lady Ada's site, I soldered it all without any problems and was quickly hooked. I kept tinkering with it to eventually get LEDs to light up via a Web page a friend clicked on remotely and even spent some time reading RFID tags.

DEFCON has put together another awesome schedule this year with quite a few talks surrounding hardware hacking. Two talks are specifically designed to help software hackers bridge the gap to hardware hacking. The first is "Go Go Gadget Python!: Introduction to Hardware Hacking" on Thursday, July 29, followed by "Hardware Hacking for Software Guys" on Sunday, Aug. 1. Each one will discuss hardware and software tools to get you started, plus examples of projects to help you move to the next level.

I'm particularly interested in the discussions that blur the line of hardware and software hacking by combining the two: "Programmable HID USB Keystroke Dongle (PHUKD): Using the Teensy as a Pen Testing Device" and "Hacking with Hardware: Introducing the Universal RF USB Keboard Emulation Device -- URFUKED." Each talk is based on a similar theme: using hardware to compromise computers via USB devices by injecting keystrokes and mouse gestures into a running system.

There's some awesome research being presented at DEFCON for software and hardware hackers alike. And if you missed the recent wireless presenter hacking using Arduinos that was given at Hack in the Box, check out this blog.

John H. Sawyer is a senior security engineer on the IT Security Team at the University of Florida. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are his own and do not represent the views and opinions of the UF IT Security Team or the University of Florida. When John's not fighting flaming, malware-infested machines or performing autopsies on blitzed boxes, he can usually be found hanging with his family, bouncing a baby on one knee and balancing a laptop on the other. Special to Dark Reading.

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