Contributor:
James.Maude
August 18th, 2015

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Advanced attacks and the InfoSec dream

During August members of the InfoSec community leave the comfort of their ergonomic desks and head out into the Nevada desert on a spiritual pilgrimage to Las Vegas. This mass movement is no coincidence, the draw is clear with Black Hat, DEF CON, BSides Vegas and the Star Trek Convention all occurring within a week. If you have an interest in offensive security, protecting data or ensuring your car cannot be remotely hijacked, Las Vegas is the place to be in August.

As with previous years the briefings were diverse and justified Black Hat’s place as one of the premier InfoSec conferences. Some key themes emerged across the week including car hacking, connected devices and the need for better vulnerability reporting.

Some of the interesting trends that emerged were how many new devices, be that automotive, drone or IOT are suffering from the same problem that plagued desktop and server OS’s for many years, over privilege. On many devices it seemed like you could gain root access in a wide variety of simple, predictable and sometimes amusing ways. Vendors of so many connected devices have yet to realise that running everything with unrestricted access is a bad idea.

As an IT admin you wouldn’t let a user disable security services that protect them so why should a car infotainment system be able to disable the brakes? With many devices running in largely static environments, it still amazes me how few try and implement least privilege and whitelisting to secure the environment. Often vendors seem to rely on security through obscurity which as most of the attendees would tell you, is a foolish idea.

Historically Black Hat prides itself as a place to drop as many zero days as possible and this year was no exception with zero days in everything from mobile devices to SCADA systems revealed. There was a lot of discussion in how a number zero days are giving attackers an advantage over traditional defense mechanisms. One analogy that rang particularly true with me was how AV companies are effectively selling the same door lock to every organisation, attackers can then buy a copy of the lock themselves and work out all the vulnerabilities and bypasses before walking up to your door and breaking in undetected.

The challenges of combatting targeted attacks and relying on AV and other reactive technologies were laid bare in a number of sessions from state sponsored malware to bypassing detection. There was a definite increase in talk of new malware defenses and the Avecto stand at Black Hat was inundated with attendees looking to move to a more proactive endpoint defense. If you didn’t get chance to see the Defendpoint demo on the show floor please contact us to arrange a demonstration.

Patrick Wardle of Synack really brought the issues of malware defense home with his presentation on creating malware for OSX. He not only demonstrated how to bypass a number of Apples security features but also showed how current security solutions are easily evaded. This caused a lot of discussion afterwards around how to protect and manage Macs in an enterprise environment.

Now that Black Hat is over for another year I can turn my Wi-Fi back on and reflect over the wide variety of topics I have learned about. If Black Hat and DEF CON have left you worrying about the security of your endpoints, data and users or just curious about how to defend against advanced attacks visit Avecto.com to learn more about proactive endpoint defence.

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