Recap: BlackHat 2015 and r00tz@DefCon 2015

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This year Adobe security team members were out in force attending BlackHat 2015 and – new this year – helping inspire the next generation of security professionals at the r00tz @ DefCon conference for kids. Adobe was a major sponsor of the r00tz conference this year helping to set up and run a 3D printing workshop and hackfest for the young attendees.

BlackHat brings together the top experts in the security field to discuss and expose current issues in the information security industry. While there were a variety of talks covering a wide breadth of topics, here are some talks that stood out to us during our time there.

In the discussion panel “Is the NSA Still Listening to Your Phone Calls?” Mark Jaycox from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Jamil Jaffer, former member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), talked about government surveillance, and the tradeoffs between keeping our privacy and using surveillance to defend against current threats. It was interesting to see two people on opposite sides of the spectrum openly discussing this complex issue. I felt that by listening to the two parties discuss their points I was able to walk away with a more informed opinion on the current stance of government surveillance in the country today.

James Kettle from Portswigger talked about server side template injection and showed techniques to identify and exploit it on popular template engines such as FreeMarker, Velocity, Twig and Jade. This vulnerability occurs when users are allowed to edit templates or untrusted user input is embedded in the template. It was interesting to see how this vulnerability can be used to directly attack web servers and perform remote code execution instead of cross site scripting. The talk raised awareness on the damage one can do if an application is vulnerable to template injection. Our researchers and security champions will be able to apply the information gained from this talk to identify and mitigate template injection in Adobe products.

In “The Node.js Highway: Attacks are at Full Throttle” talk, Maty Siman and Amit Ashbel discussed the security issues and demonstrated new attack techniques against Node.js applications. The attack on pseudo random number generator in Node.js which allows an attacker to predict the next number given 3 consecutive numbers was quite interesting. This means an application generating password using PRNG might reveal the passwords of all the users. The talk educated our researchers and security champions on new vulnerabilities to look for while reviewing a Node.js application.

In addition to all of the great learnings and networking at BlackHat 2015, many from our team stayed around after BlackHat to attend DefCon and help out at the r00tz @ DefCon conference for kids. This was Adobe’s first year sponsoring the r00tz conference. With the help of our awesome Photoshop engineering teams, we were able to get kid-ready workstations set up with our creative tools and hooked up to cool MakerBot 3D printers. It was a lot of fun helping kids take all of the ideas in their heads and translate them into physical objects they could then take home with them – with, of course, a lot of hacking involved to get many of the ideas to work. In addition to our 3D printing workshop, there were other exercises including a capture the flag contest and robot building contest. It was very rewarding for all of us to sponsor and be a part of inspiring these kids to pursue careers in technology.

 

Tim Fleer
Security Program Manager

Karthik Thotta Ganesh
Web Security Researcher


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Posted on 08-18-2015