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Black Hat 2013 Briefings Day 1 Report

Black Hat 2013 Briefings Day 1 Report

August 1, 2013 | Kevin Bocek

The first day of Black Hat was all about the opening keynote: NSA Director General Keith Alexander’s opening stirred emotions but also shared some new insights in to NSA operations.


Most interesting for me was the screenshot of the analyst’s user interface to the NSA’ phone metadata. Looking very Windows 3.11ish, the small screen shot shows how you can search for calls and the data that’s returned back.

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Beyond the keynote, there were a number of great briefings. Topping the list was the very serious, but at times comical view, in to the FBI’s programs to identify malicious insiders by the agency’s former CISO Patrick Reidy.

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The FBI learned that looking for insiders could not be performed by merely looking for anomalous behavior outside the norm of the entire user community. Instead, data must be normalized and analysis considered in context of the individual. The use of analytics and recommendations on normalizing data are great lessons for everyone looking to use big data to detect threats.

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Day one also revealed that attacks on SSL and TLS are possible even without access to a server’s master asymmetric keypair. Using session tickets symmetric sessions keys are stored to create a stateless environment for encryption. While reducing server demands, it means TLS sessions could be decrypted without a server’s private.

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While the attack tool demonstrated and released to attendees required server access and memory dumping, something that attackers are capable of pulling off, enterprises need to understand the constantly changing use of keys and certificates. This is especially true as the shift to elastic public and private cloud computing moves in to higher gear and developers are now making security decisions outside the domain of IT security.

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About the author

Kevin Bocek
Kevin Bocek

Kevin is Vice President of Security Strategy & Threat Intelligence at Venafi. He is recognized as a subject matter expert in threat detection, encryption, digital signatures, and key management, and has previously held positions at CipherCloud, PGP Corporation and Thales.

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