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                    [title] => I reviewed 600+ call-for-paper submissions, (and you’ll probably guess what happened next.)
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                    [pubdate] => Thu, 09 Jan 2020 13:30:38 +0000
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                    [description] => Ever wondered if your conference talk proposal measures up? I definitely do, every time I submit to a conference. Over the past week I...
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<p><em>Ever wondered if your conference talk proposal measures up? I definitely do, every time I submit to a conference.</em></p>
<p>Over the past week I reviewed over 600 call for paper submissions for the Derbycon information security conference. This was definitely a unique experience &#8211; I had participated in review boards in the past, but never on such a massive scale. I had to be considerably more critical that usual because of the limited number of speaking slots available versus the huge interest.</p>
<p>I came out feeling better about my own submissions, but with a lot of food-for-thought about what I can improve in the future. <strong>Many of the submissions I reviewed were excellent, and I had a very hard time making final decisions about which ones were the best.</strong> However, other submissions really needed some work.</p>
<p><strong>Let&#8217;s talk about the biggest problems I saw:</strong></p>
<hr />
<h3><strong>The &#8220;Couldn&#8217;t Put in the Effort&#8221;</strong></h3>
<p>There was a substantial number of talk proposals with serious spelling and grammatical errors, lack of capitalization, and even incomplete sentences or mistakes in copy-pasting. If you&#8217;re proposing a talk you intend to give to dozens or even hundreds of people, I have strong reservations about your preparation when you can&#8217;t do even a cursory check of your paragraph-long application.</p>
<p>Let a friend, colleague, or family member put a second set of eyes on your submission. It shows you care.</p>
<h3><strong>The &#8220;Didn&#8217;t Read the Instructions&#8221;</strong></h3>
<p>Call of paper submissions usually follow a specified format. In this case, a synopsis and an outline were requested by the conference. Many submissions I reviewed did not include one or the other. In some cases, the submitters provided long bullet lists or paragraphs instead of a tabbed outline that concisely described their talk proposal. In others, the synopsis was well over 1000 characters. After 4 or 5 hours straight of reading submissions, it was a little much to take in.</p>
<p>Once again, a second set of eyes is really important to ensure you followed the instructions properly. I definitely notice attention to detail as a reviewer.</p>
<h3><strong>The &#8220;I&#8217;m Not Quite There, Yet&#8221;</strong></h3>
<p>Similarly, there were numerous talk proposals which proposed vague hypotheses or very general thoughts about what might be interesting. I agreed that some of the ideas sounded intriguing, but they weren&#8217;t fleshed out at all. In some cases, the submitter outright stated they hadn&#8217;t researched the topic or implemented the idea, yet. This was a problem because I couldn&#8217;t be certain they would complete their research and report in time, and their hypothesis could be incorrect or correct.</p>
<p>While I might be able to give these submissions more leeway in a smaller conference, I had to give preference to talks which were thought through and reliable.</p>
<h3><strong>The &#8220;Flavor of the Day&#8221;</strong></h3>
<p><strong>The hot topics in information security in 2018 are apparently: MITRE ATT&amp;CK, container security, and hiring and training talent.</strong> A massive percentage of submissions directly related to these topics. This required the submissions on these subjects to be engaging, thoughtful, and well written to stand out. Unfortunately, numerous submissions on these topics were pretty high level and vague.</p>
<p>Always do some background research on recent conferences to find out what &#8220;hot topics&#8221; in the field are and understand if you&#8217;re proposing a talk on a subject that has been extensively spoken about. Is your twist on it adequate to stand out and be useful? What&#8217;s your hook to capture the imagination of attendees and reviewers?</p>
<h3><strong>The &#8220;Soft Skills are Easy, Right?&#8221;</strong></h3>
<p>Everybody gets burnt out talking about highly technical stuff all the time, and at some point we all propose a talk on soft skills, team dynamics, or personal success. This is fine &#8211; soft skills are important to any technical field. However, be very certain that you&#8217;re spending as much effort on your soft skills talk proposal as you are on your technical proposals. I saw numerous submissions that included short, vague outlines of team dynamic or career progression topics. While these subjects matter, talks on them require equal effort and fleshing out.</p>
<p>If you&#8217;re going to submit a talk on why physical fitness is important to one&#8217;s career, to an IT conference, please ensure you&#8217;ve really thought out how and why it is important and express that well to the review board. Additionally, <strong>psychology, health, and social sciences are real fields that qualified people study for years!</strong> Being technical experts don&#8217;t make us inherently qualified to talk about them.</p>
<h3><strong>The &#8220;Wall of Text&#8221;</strong></h3>
<p>On the opposite end of the spectrum from vague and incomplete talk submissions, there were the fleshed out but incredibly dry and rambling submissions. A peril of being academic or extremely technical is often forgetting your audience.</p>
<p>While I&#8217;m a subject matter expert in several areas of information security, I certainly don&#8217;t know minutiae of every conceivable niche. Many submissions I reviewed were focused on an incredibly specific and highly technical subject, and provided no high-level synopsis or explanation. Ensure your synopsis is comprehensible to a general professional in your field, even at a management level. The longer and more technical it gets, the more crucial a coherent synopsis is.</p>
<h3><strong>The &#8220;Big Fish, Small Pond&#8221;</strong></h3>
<p>Some of the very best submissions I saw that were engaging, well written, and unique were submitted to the Stable Talks track. I was stuck wondering how much of this was imposter syndrome, modesty, or gambling with the odds.</p>
<p>If you&#8217;ve got a fleshed out idea that your peers and community have given you a positive opinion on, but you simply don&#8217;t feel experienced enough to submit it to the conference proper &#8211; you&#8217;re probably suffering from imposter syndrome. Do a little bit of introspection and talking with mentors. I can absolutely tell you with confidence that many of your submissions this year were superior to the standard talk track ones. Additionally, your odds of being selected were not significantly higher in Stable.</p>
<p>If you&#8217;ve 5+ years of experience working professionally in information security, it may be time to considering move up and leaving space for the new folks.</p>
<p>This is not a criticism of applying for Stable Talks. They&#8217;re a great place to get your feet wet in a shorter format. Just consider their purpose and your topic and speaking ability.</p>
<h3><strong>The &#8220;Why is this Important?&#8221;</strong></h3>
<p>Finally, many submissions really failed to intrigue or inspire curiosity. A CFP submission gives you a very short opportunity to capture the interest and imagination of the review board. <strong>We&#8217;re trying to decide if a talk is fleshed-out, interesting, and useful to the audience</strong>.</p>
<p>Quickly grabbing our attention with a well-written hook that makes us want to learn more is key to doing this effectively. The best submissions I saw caught my eye in the first sentence and made me want to read more.</p>
<h3><strong>The &#8220;I&#8217;m Cute, Pick Me&#8221;</strong></h3>
<p>I didn&#8217;t just title this blog to irritate folks.<strong> I really did see talk submissions with click-bait titles!</strong> Be very, very cautious about jokes in your submission that might miss their mark given a diverse review board. Nobody&#8217;s joke will ever be funny enough for me to select their talk without all the other required boxes being checked. It&#8217;s great to be clever in your title and your hook &#8211; just be cognizant that a pun or cultural reference might be misunderstood. Think through those choices carefully from multiple viewpoints.</p>
<p>It&#8217;s fine to specify your unique perspective or qualifications to speak on a particular subject. However, be cautious about turning exposition into bragging. It&#8217;s unlikely that referring to your accolades, career success, or certifications will change my opinion if your submission is otherwise lacking. It may actually cause me to be more critical &#8211; I inherently expect a PhD-holding executive to write better than a college student.</p>
<p>Finally, inserting your name or strongly implying who you are in a ostensibly blind review submission also really violates the spirit of a fair and equal board, so please don&#8217;t do it.</p>
<hr />
<p><em>I hope you find these tips useful as you submit to academic and professional conferences. Happy CFPing!</em></p>

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                    [summary] => Ever wondered if your conference talk proposal measures up? I definitely do, every time I submit to a conference. Over the past week I...
                    [atom_content#] => 1
                    [atom_content] => <p></p>
<p><em>Ever wondered if your conference talk proposal measures up? I definitely do, every time I submit to a conference.</em></p>
<p>Over the past week I reviewed over 600 call for paper submissions for the Derbycon information security conference. This was definitely a unique experience &#8211; I had participated in review boards in the past, but never on such a massive scale. I had to be considerably more critical that usual because of the limited number of speaking slots available versus the huge interest.</p>
<p>I came out feeling better about my own submissions, but with a lot of food-for-thought about what I can improve in the future. <strong>Many of the submissions I reviewed were excellent, and I had a very hard time making final decisions about which ones were the best.</strong> However, other submissions really needed some work.</p>
<p><strong>Let&#8217;s talk about the biggest problems I saw:</strong></p>
<hr />
<h3><strong>The &#8220;Couldn&#8217;t Put in the Effort&#8221;</strong></h3>
<p>There was a substantial number of talk proposals with serious spelling and grammatical errors, lack of capitalization, and even incomplete sentences or mistakes in copy-pasting. If you&#8217;re proposing a talk you intend to give to dozens or even hundreds of people, I have strong reservations about your preparation when you can&#8217;t do even a cursory check of your paragraph-long application.</p>
<p>Let a friend, colleague, or family member put a second set of eyes on your submission. It shows you care.</p>
<h3><strong>The &#8220;Didn&#8217;t Read the Instructions&#8221;</strong></h3>
<p>Call of paper submissions usually follow a specified format. In this case, a synopsis and an outline were requested by the conference. Many submissions I reviewed did not include one or the other. In some cases, the submitters provided long bullet lists or paragraphs instead of a tabbed outline that concisely described their talk proposal. In others, the synopsis was well over 1000 characters. After 4 or 5 hours straight of reading submissions, it was a little much to take in.</p>
<p>Once again, a second set of eyes is really important to ensure you followed the instructions properly. I definitely notice attention to detail as a reviewer.</p>
<h3><strong>The &#8220;I&#8217;m Not Quite There, Yet&#8221;</strong></h3>
<p>Similarly, there were numerous talk proposals which proposed vague hypotheses or very general thoughts about what might be interesting. I agreed that some of the ideas sounded intriguing, but they weren&#8217;t fleshed out at all. In some cases, the submitter outright stated they hadn&#8217;t researched the topic or implemented the idea, yet. This was a problem because I couldn&#8217;t be certain they would complete their research and report in time, and their hypothesis could be incorrect or correct.</p>
<p>While I might be able to give these submissions more leeway in a smaller conference, I had to give preference to talks which were thought through and reliable.</p>
<h3><strong>The &#8220;Flavor of the Day&#8221;</strong></h3>
<p><strong>The hot topics in information security in 2018 are apparently: MITRE ATT&amp;CK, container security, and hiring and training talent.</strong> A massive percentage of submissions directly related to these topics. This required the submissions on these subjects to be engaging, thoughtful, and well written to stand out. Unfortunately, numerous submissions on these topics were pretty high level and vague.</p>
<p>Always do some background research on recent conferences to find out what &#8220;hot topics&#8221; in the field are and understand if you&#8217;re proposing a talk on a subject that has been extensively spoken about. Is your twist on it adequate to stand out and be useful? What&#8217;s your hook to capture the imagination of attendees and reviewers?</p>
<h3><strong>The &#8220;Soft Skills are Easy, Right?&#8221;</strong></h3>
<p>Everybody gets burnt out talking about highly technical stuff all the time, and at some point we all propose a talk on soft skills, team dynamics, or personal success. This is fine &#8211; soft skills are important to any technical field. However, be very certain that you&#8217;re spending as much effort on your soft skills talk proposal as you are on your technical proposals. I saw numerous submissions that included short, vague outlines of team dynamic or career progression topics. While these subjects matter, talks on them require equal effort and fleshing out.</p>
<p>If you&#8217;re going to submit a talk on why physical fitness is important to one&#8217;s career, to an IT conference, please ensure you&#8217;ve really thought out how and why it is important and express that well to the review board. Additionally, <strong>psychology, health, and social sciences are real fields that qualified people study for years!</strong> Being technical experts don&#8217;t make us inherently qualified to talk about them.</p>
<h3><strong>The &#8220;Wall of Text&#8221;</strong></h3>
<p>On the opposite end of the spectrum from vague and incomplete talk submissions, there were the fleshed out but incredibly dry and rambling submissions. A peril of being academic or extremely technical is often forgetting your audience.</p>
<p>While I&#8217;m a subject matter expert in several areas of information security, I certainly don&#8217;t know minutiae of every conceivable niche. Many submissions I reviewed were focused on an incredibly specific and highly technical subject, and provided no high-level synopsis or explanation. Ensure your synopsis is comprehensible to a general professional in your field, even at a management level. The longer and more technical it gets, the more crucial a coherent synopsis is.</p>
<h3><strong>The &#8220;Big Fish, Small Pond&#8221;</strong></h3>
<p>Some of the very best submissions I saw that were engaging, well written, and unique were submitted to the Stable Talks track. I was stuck wondering how much of this was imposter syndrome, modesty, or gambling with the odds.</p>
<p>If you&#8217;ve got a fleshed out idea that your peers and community have given you a positive opinion on, but you simply don&#8217;t feel experienced enough to submit it to the conference proper &#8211; you&#8217;re probably suffering from imposter syndrome. Do a little bit of introspection and talking with mentors. I can absolutely tell you with confidence that many of your submissions this year were superior to the standard talk track ones. Additionally, your odds of being selected were not significantly higher in Stable.</p>
<p>If you&#8217;ve 5+ years of experience working professionally in information security, it may be time to considering move up and leaving space for the new folks.</p>
<p>This is not a criticism of applying for Stable Talks. They&#8217;re a great place to get your feet wet in a shorter format. Just consider their purpose and your topic and speaking ability.</p>
<h3><strong>The &#8220;Why is this Important?&#8221;</strong></h3>
<p>Finally, many submissions really failed to intrigue or inspire curiosity. A CFP submission gives you a very short opportunity to capture the interest and imagination of the review board. <strong>We&#8217;re trying to decide if a talk is fleshed-out, interesting, and useful to the audience</strong>.</p>
<p>Quickly grabbing our attention with a well-written hook that makes us want to learn more is key to doing this effectively. The best submissions I saw caught my eye in the first sentence and made me want to read more.</p>
<h3><strong>The &#8220;I&#8217;m Cute, Pick Me&#8221;</strong></h3>
<p>I didn&#8217;t just title this blog to irritate folks.<strong> I really did see talk submissions with click-bait titles!</strong> Be very, very cautious about jokes in your submission that might miss their mark given a diverse review board. Nobody&#8217;s joke will ever be funny enough for me to select their talk without all the other required boxes being checked. It&#8217;s great to be clever in your title and your hook &#8211; just be cognizant that a pun or cultural reference might be misunderstood. Think through those choices carefully from multiple viewpoints.</p>
<p>It&#8217;s fine to specify your unique perspective or qualifications to speak on a particular subject. However, be cautious about turning exposition into bragging. It&#8217;s unlikely that referring to your accolades, career success, or certifications will change my opinion if your submission is otherwise lacking. It may actually cause me to be more critical &#8211; I inherently expect a PhD-holding executive to write better than a college student.</p>
<p>Finally, inserting your name or strongly implying who you are in a ostensibly blind review submission also really violates the spirit of a fair and equal board, so please don&#8217;t do it.</p>
<hr />
<p><em>I hope you find these tips useful as you submit to academic and professional conferences. Happy CFPing!</em></p>

                    [category@term] => Hacking
                    [category#2@term] => hacking
                    [category#3@term] => security
                    [category#4@term] => Smart gadgets
                    [category#5@term] => technology
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                    [title] => The Biggest “Small” Personal Digital Security Mistakes
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                    [pubdate] => Thu, 26 Dec 2019 11:55:38 +0000
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                    [description] => I recently read a friend&#8217;s post about her family&#8217;s catastrophic woes dealing with a hacked Apple ID account. Her story was so troubling that...
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<p>I recently read a friend&#8217;s post about her family&#8217;s catastrophic woes dealing with a hacked Apple ID account. Her story was so troubling that it inspired me to remind folks of some of a few small security things that slip through the cracks in our daily lives that can cause a profound impact on our personal digital lives. Even as dedicated IT professionals, there are minor, crucial details which may blend into the background as part of modern life.</p>
<p>Let&#8217;s briefly discuss five commonly-forgotten security best practices, and explore the potential real-life impact on our personal security if we neglect to perform them.</p>
<ol>
<li>
<h2>Home Router Security</h2>
<p><strong>What It Entails</p>
<p></strong>Home routers (should) receive security updates just like any other device. Unfortunately, these updates are often not applied automatically (because doing so will briefly interrupt internet service). Routers also blend into the background of our daily lives &#8211; they&#8217;re something we don&#8217;t notice until there&#8217;s a failure or outage. We should be routinely logging into our routers, ensuring that administrative passwords are strong, wireless networks are configured as intended, and applying any available device updates.</p>
<p>Home routers should also be replaced with newer models once they&#8217;re not longer supported and updated by the manufacturer.</p>
<p>Finally, I highly advise purchasing and installing a home router your family can manage and ultimately replace behind anything provided to you by your internet service provider.</p>
<h3><strong>What Goes Wrong, if we Forget?<br />
</strong></h3>
<p>Bad guys and gals know perfectly well that we forget about routers, and that millions upon millions of them are vulnerable around the world. This makes home routers a juicy target for many reasons. For one, they make a good launch surface for Distributed Denial of Service attacks. They also can pose a risk during targeted attacks against a household or individual, as any security they provide can potentially be circumvented if they are configured with a weak admin password or they lack security updates.</li>
<li>
<h2>Multi-Factor Authentication on Email</h2>
<h3><strong>What It Entails<br />
</strong></h3>
<p>Almost every major global webmail provider provides an option to enable some sort of multi-factor authentication. Their first factor of authentication is typically a traditional password or passphrase. The second factor may be in the form of an authenticator app, a physical token (like a YubiKey or smart card), biometrics, or an SMS message code sent to a user during login. This means two (or more) verification steps are required to access an account, instead of one.</p>
<p>While security experts may debate ad infinitum about which of these factors is the most secure (SMS is generally considered the weakest), everyone should be using at least two factors of authentication on his or her personal email accounts. Two-factor authentication is a really small inconvenience in exchange for notably increased deterrence against hacking. Instead of simply stealing or guessing a password, a hacker will have to evade or gain access to the second (or third&#8230;) form of required authentication to successfully log into the email account.</p>
<h3><strong>What Goes Wrong, if we Forget?</strong></h3>
<p>Your primary home email is far more integral to your daily life than you may immediately imagine. Consider all of the accounts you&#8217;ve registered with it over time. Social media, financial, software, online storage, games, home business, and even dating..? The parade of juicy personal information continues.</p>
<p>It&#8217;s very likely, if you were to request to reset the password to one of those  accounts, a reset link or code would be sent to the email in question. Consider the control over all of your other accounts that this one email account and its associated password provides.</p>
<p>Next, recall all the personal and business contacts who are referenced in your email correspondence and address book. It&#8217;s quite common for hackers to spread scams and malware by using a trusted email to send malicious or phishing emails to collected contacts.</p>
<p>Finally, recall all of the sensitive correspondence you might have in your webmail. While I <strong>never</strong> advise sending sensitive photos or private medical, financial, or tax data via unencrypted email, the unfortunate truth is that the practice is common and sometimes outside our control. Could a bad guy or gal find your social security number, your bank routing number, sensitive medical data, or intimate photos by searching your mailbox? Could this put you at risk of extortion or blackmail?</p>
<p>The bottom line is that your email is very likely a &#8220;key to your kingdom&#8221;. In a best case scenario, we should create separate, well-secured email accounts for both correspondence and sensitive account registration. At an absolute minimum, every email account we use should have two-factor authentication configured.</li>
<li>
<h2>Multi-Factor Authentication on Apple ID and Microsoft Accounts</h2>
<h3><strong>What It Entails</strong></h3>
<p>A few years ago, our email accounts alone were the primary point of access to our online presence. This has shifted slightly with an increasing number of popular consumer services in &#8220;the cloud&#8221; and available by subscription. MacOS and Windows now highly encourage the use of their own centralized online accounts to manage computers, software, apps, phones, and tablets.</p>
<p>Similar to email and social media, our Apple ID accounts and Microsoft accounts allow us to configure two-factor authentication. This will require anyone accessing these accounts to provide a second form of authentication to log into a new device.</p>
<h3><strong>What Goes Wrong, if we Forget?</strong></h3>
<p>Our iTunes accounts may have been created in an era where their sole purpose was purchasing $2 songs, but Apple IDs control far more than that today. Dependent on device settings, an Apple ID may provide the ability to purchase expensive software, access personal photos and videos, remotely track or erase devices, or even make system changes. Indeed, the theft of an Apple ID account can lead to a pretty dire situation in an Apple ecosystem.  While enabling two-factor authentication isn&#8217;t a silver bullet against a determined attacker, it&#8217;s an important deterrent and well worth the time and effort.</p>
<p>Microsoft was a bit later to the game, as Windows 8 was the first heavily Cloud-integrated Windows operating system. However, Microsoft has followed Apple&#8217;s lead since then in integrating app purchases, online photo and document storage, and remote device tracking and management into Microsoft accounts. Convenience creates a single target for attackers.</p>
<p>Treat these accounts as extremely sensitive, and use them only on trusted devices. If your device is stolen or accessed by somebody you don&#8217;t trust, change your password <strong>immediately </strong>on a secure computer. Understand that if they <em>are</em> stolen, the thief may have substantial ability to tamper with your devices until their access is revoked.</p>
<h2></h2>
</li>
<li>
<h2>Facebook Authentication and Privacy</h2>
<h3><strong>What It Entails<br />
</strong></h3>
<p>Facebook is best known as a social media (and data aggregation) platform, but they provide another popular service we rarely twice about: Facebook Login. Across the web, Facebook Login has become a popular and sometimes mandatory mechanism for authenticating users to apps, services, and accounts.</p>
<p>It&#8217;s far too easy for me as a security person to make the blanket statement, &#8220;never use Facebook Login&#8221;. Sites and apps often request far too much personal Facebook profile information with use of the service, and a password manager is far more trustworthy. However, Facebook Login does counter a lot of common security problems such as weak and reused passwords, and poor login security configuration on websites. For now, it legitimately serves a place to reduce poor security practices on the internet.</p>
<p>If we choose to use Facebook despite significant privacy concerns, we should ensure our accounts are as secure and private as possible. Once again, two- authentication should be enabled. We should use a strong password, and restrict the public visibility of our personal information as much as possible.</p>
<h3><strong>What Goes Wrong, if we Forget?<br />
</strong></h3>
<p>We discussed some substantial privacy and security concerns regarding our email addresses being linked to more sensitive personal and business accounts. The problems with Facebook Login are similar &#8211; while it may provide an increase in security over weak or reused passwords, a hacker gaining access to our Facebook account could be catastrophic. So, increasing our Facebook account security is a must if we choose to use Facebook to log into other services and apps.</p>
<p>Secondly, there is the matter of the information we share on Facebook. Common account security questions like, &#8220;What was your first pet&#8221;, and, &#8220;What was your high school mascot&#8221; are useless if the answer can be relatively easily located on your social media. While we&#8217;ll talk a little bit more about security questions in the next section, it&#8217;s always a good idea to avoid oversharing with the publicly-facing internet. The internet remembers forever.</li>
<li>
<h2>Always Lie (On Security Questions)</h2>
<h3><strong>What It Entails</strong></h3>
<p>Whether the site wants to know your favorite band or your mother&#8217;s maiden name, it&#8217;s probably a good idea to make something up. Worried about forgetting your made-up answer? Store it in your password manager.</p>
<h3><strong>What Goes Wrong, if we Forget?</strong></h3>
<p>Password reset questions are an unfortunate relic of the past which are still used all over the internet and financial institutions to verify identity. There are two fundamental problems with this:</p>
<p>A) <strong>The same questions are used (and reused) all over the internet.</strong></p>
<p><em>and</em></p>
<p>B) <strong>The internet is full of interesting facts about our lives which we put there, and that are collected and posted without our permission.</strong></p>
<p>Not only is it likely websites you use will eventually be hacked into and your security question responses will be sold on the black market, but the most common questions are ones that can be answered with a little hunting and social engineering on the internet.</p>
<p>It can feel difficult to lie to a formal institution or even to a commercial service about anything, but outside some government forms, there is rarely any law that says you must provide an honest answer to these security questions. It&#8217;s best to not tempt fate.</li>
</ol>

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                    [summary] => I recently read a friend&#8217;s post about her family&#8217;s catastrophic woes dealing with a hacked Apple ID account. Her story was so troubling that...
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                    [atom_content] => <p></p>
<p>I recently read a friend&#8217;s post about her family&#8217;s catastrophic woes dealing with a hacked Apple ID account. Her story was so troubling that it inspired me to remind folks of some of a few small security things that slip through the cracks in our daily lives that can cause a profound impact on our personal digital lives. Even as dedicated IT professionals, there are minor, crucial details which may blend into the background as part of modern life.</p>
<p>Let&#8217;s briefly discuss five commonly-forgotten security best practices, and explore the potential real-life impact on our personal security if we neglect to perform them.</p>
<ol>
<li>
<h2>Home Router Security</h2>
<p><strong>What It Entails</p>
<p></strong>Home routers (should) receive security updates just like any other device. Unfortunately, these updates are often not applied automatically (because doing so will briefly interrupt internet service). Routers also blend into the background of our daily lives &#8211; they&#8217;re something we don&#8217;t notice until there&#8217;s a failure or outage. We should be routinely logging into our routers, ensuring that administrative passwords are strong, wireless networks are configured as intended, and applying any available device updates.</p>
<p>Home routers should also be replaced with newer models once they&#8217;re not longer supported and updated by the manufacturer.</p>
<p>Finally, I highly advise purchasing and installing a home router your family can manage and ultimately replace behind anything provided to you by your internet service provider.</p>
<h3><strong>What Goes Wrong, if we Forget?<br />
</strong></h3>
<p>Bad guys and gals know perfectly well that we forget about routers, and that millions upon millions of them are vulnerable around the world. This makes home routers a juicy target for many reasons. For one, they make a good launch surface for Distributed Denial of Service attacks. They also can pose a risk during targeted attacks against a household or individual, as any security they provide can potentially be circumvented if they are configured with a weak admin password or they lack security updates.</li>
<li>
<h2>Multi-Factor Authentication on Email</h2>
<h3><strong>What It Entails<br />
</strong></h3>
<p>Almost every major global webmail provider provides an option to enable some sort of multi-factor authentication. Their first factor of authentication is typically a traditional password or passphrase. The second factor may be in the form of an authenticator app, a physical token (like a YubiKey or smart card), biometrics, or an SMS message code sent to a user during login. This means two (or more) verification steps are required to access an account, instead of one.</p>
<p>While security experts may debate ad infinitum about which of these factors is the most secure (SMS is generally considered the weakest), everyone should be using at least two factors of authentication on his or her personal email accounts. Two-factor authentication is a really small inconvenience in exchange for notably increased deterrence against hacking. Instead of simply stealing or guessing a password, a hacker will have to evade or gain access to the second (or third&#8230;) form of required authentication to successfully log into the email account.</p>
<h3><strong>What Goes Wrong, if we Forget?</strong></h3>
<p>Your primary home email is far more integral to your daily life than you may immediately imagine. Consider all of the accounts you&#8217;ve registered with it over time. Social media, financial, software, online storage, games, home business, and even dating..? The parade of juicy personal information continues.</p>
<p>It&#8217;s very likely, if you were to request to reset the password to one of those  accounts, a reset link or code would be sent to the email in question. Consider the control over all of your other accounts that this one email account and its associated password provides.</p>
<p>Next, recall all the personal and business contacts who are referenced in your email correspondence and address book. It&#8217;s quite common for hackers to spread scams and malware by using a trusted email to send malicious or phishing emails to collected contacts.</p>
<p>Finally, recall all of the sensitive correspondence you might have in your webmail. While I <strong>never</strong> advise sending sensitive photos or private medical, financial, or tax data via unencrypted email, the unfortunate truth is that the practice is common and sometimes outside our control. Could a bad guy or gal find your social security number, your bank routing number, sensitive medical data, or intimate photos by searching your mailbox? Could this put you at risk of extortion or blackmail?</p>
<p>The bottom line is that your email is very likely a &#8220;key to your kingdom&#8221;. In a best case scenario, we should create separate, well-secured email accounts for both correspondence and sensitive account registration. At an absolute minimum, every email account we use should have two-factor authentication configured.</li>
<li>
<h2>Multi-Factor Authentication on Apple ID and Microsoft Accounts</h2>
<h3><strong>What It Entails</strong></h3>
<p>A few years ago, our email accounts alone were the primary point of access to our online presence. This has shifted slightly with an increasing number of popular consumer services in &#8220;the cloud&#8221; and available by subscription. MacOS and Windows now highly encourage the use of their own centralized online accounts to manage computers, software, apps, phones, and tablets.</p>
<p>Similar to email and social media, our Apple ID accounts and Microsoft accounts allow us to configure two-factor authentication. This will require anyone accessing these accounts to provide a second form of authentication to log into a new device.</p>
<h3><strong>What Goes Wrong, if we Forget?</strong></h3>
<p>Our iTunes accounts may have been created in an era where their sole purpose was purchasing $2 songs, but Apple IDs control far more than that today. Dependent on device settings, an Apple ID may provide the ability to purchase expensive software, access personal photos and videos, remotely track or erase devices, or even make system changes. Indeed, the theft of an Apple ID account can lead to a pretty dire situation in an Apple ecosystem.  While enabling two-factor authentication isn&#8217;t a silver bullet against a determined attacker, it&#8217;s an important deterrent and well worth the time and effort.</p>
<p>Microsoft was a bit later to the game, as Windows 8 was the first heavily Cloud-integrated Windows operating system. However, Microsoft has followed Apple&#8217;s lead since then in integrating app purchases, online photo and document storage, and remote device tracking and management into Microsoft accounts. Convenience creates a single target for attackers.</p>
<p>Treat these accounts as extremely sensitive, and use them only on trusted devices. If your device is stolen or accessed by somebody you don&#8217;t trust, change your password <strong>immediately </strong>on a secure computer. Understand that if they <em>are</em> stolen, the thief may have substantial ability to tamper with your devices until their access is revoked.</p>
<h2></h2>
</li>
<li>
<h2>Facebook Authentication and Privacy</h2>
<h3><strong>What It Entails<br />
</strong></h3>
<p>Facebook is best known as a social media (and data aggregation) platform, but they provide another popular service we rarely twice about: Facebook Login. Across the web, Facebook Login has become a popular and sometimes mandatory mechanism for authenticating users to apps, services, and accounts.</p>
<p>It&#8217;s far too easy for me as a security person to make the blanket statement, &#8220;never use Facebook Login&#8221;. Sites and apps often request far too much personal Facebook profile information with use of the service, and a password manager is far more trustworthy. However, Facebook Login does counter a lot of common security problems such as weak and reused passwords, and poor login security configuration on websites. For now, it legitimately serves a place to reduce poor security practices on the internet.</p>
<p>If we choose to use Facebook despite significant privacy concerns, we should ensure our accounts are as secure and private as possible. Once again, two- authentication should be enabled. We should use a strong password, and restrict the public visibility of our personal information as much as possible.</p>
<h3><strong>What Goes Wrong, if we Forget?<br />
</strong></h3>
<p>We discussed some substantial privacy and security concerns regarding our email addresses being linked to more sensitive personal and business accounts. The problems with Facebook Login are similar &#8211; while it may provide an increase in security over weak or reused passwords, a hacker gaining access to our Facebook account could be catastrophic. So, increasing our Facebook account security is a must if we choose to use Facebook to log into other services and apps.</p>
<p>Secondly, there is the matter of the information we share on Facebook. Common account security questions like, &#8220;What was your first pet&#8221;, and, &#8220;What was your high school mascot&#8221; are useless if the answer can be relatively easily located on your social media. While we&#8217;ll talk a little bit more about security questions in the next section, it&#8217;s always a good idea to avoid oversharing with the publicly-facing internet. The internet remembers forever.</li>
<li>
<h2>Always Lie (On Security Questions)</h2>
<h3><strong>What It Entails</strong></h3>
<p>Whether the site wants to know your favorite band or your mother&#8217;s maiden name, it&#8217;s probably a good idea to make something up. Worried about forgetting your made-up answer? Store it in your password manager.</p>
<h3><strong>What Goes Wrong, if we Forget?</strong></h3>
<p>Password reset questions are an unfortunate relic of the past which are still used all over the internet and financial institutions to verify identity. There are two fundamental problems with this:</p>
<p>A) <strong>The same questions are used (and reused) all over the internet.</strong></p>
<p><em>and</em></p>
<p>B) <strong>The internet is full of interesting facts about our lives which we put there, and that are collected and posted without our permission.</strong></p>
<p>Not only is it likely websites you use will eventually be hacked into and your security question responses will be sold on the black market, but the most common questions are ones that can be answered with a little hunting and social engineering on the internet.</p>
<p>It can feel difficult to lie to a formal institution or even to a commercial service about anything, but outside some government forms, there is rarely any law that says you must provide an honest answer to these security questions. It&#8217;s best to not tempt fate.</li>
</ol>

                    [category@term] => Hacking
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                    [title] => The InfoSec Amnesty Q&A
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                    [pubdate] => Thu, 12 Dec 2019 10:25:25 +0000
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                    [description] => Foreword (Lesley) One of the hardest things to accept in information security is that we as individuals will simply never know everything there is...
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<h1>Foreword (Lesley)</h1>
<p>One of the hardest things to accept in information security is that we as individuals will simply never know everything there is to know about the field, or all of its many niches. Despite this absolute reality, we still often feel embarrassed to ask basic questions about topics we don&#8217;t understand, due to a misplaced fear of looking unknowledgeable.</p>
<p>The reality is that there are a number of subjects in information security which many people who are otherwise quite competent professionals in the field are confused by. To try to alleviate this problem, I anonymously polled hundreds of infosec students and professionals about what topics they&#8217;re still having trouble wrapping their heads around. A few subjects and concepts rose to the top immediately: <strong>Blockchain</strong>, the <strong>Frida </strong>framework, <strong>DNSSEC</strong>, <strong>ASLR</strong> (and various associated bypasses), and <strong>PKI.</strong></p>
<p>Since information security has many areas of specialty, I&#8217;ve stepped aside today and asked people specifically working in each niche to tackle breaking down these topics. Where possible, I have provided two perspectives from people with different experiences with the subject matter.<strong> Each of these contributors was tremendously generous with his or her time and knowledge. Please visit their social media profiles and personal blogs!</strong></p>
<h1>ASLR (Skip Duckwall and Mohamed Shahat)</h1>
<h2>Perspective One: Skip</h2>
<p><strong><span class="im">1) This is a pretty tough topic, so let&#8217;s start with an easy one. Can you tell us a little about yourself, and your expertise related to <span class="il">ASLR</span> / <span class="il">ASLR</span> bypassing?</span></strong></p>
<p>Yikes, ask the easy ones first, eh?  I&#8217;m a former DOD Red team member (contractor) who did some stuff to some things somewhere at some point in time.  My biggest life achievement is being part of a group which got a multi-billion dollar MS client pissed off enough to call MS to the carpet and eventually MS wrote a whitepaper.  Now I&#8217;m a consultant.  My experiences with <span class="il">ASLR</span>, etc are mostly from a &#8220;I have to explain why these are things to C-level folks and why they should care&#8221; standpoint.</p>
<p><strong>2) <span class="il">ASLR</span> bypasses are common in <span class="il">security</span> news, but a lot of <span class="il">infosec</span> folks don&#8217;t fully understand what <span class="il">ASLR</span> does, and why bypassing it is a goal for attackers. Can you please give us a &#8220;500-words-or-less&#8221; explanation of the concepts? (Assume an audience with solid IT fundamentals)</strong></p>
<p>Caveat:  This is a very technical question and in order to answer it in an easy to understand manner, I have to provide some background and gloss over a lot of very pertinent details.  My goal is to provide a GIST and context, not a dissertation ;-).<br />
Ok, while I can assume people have solid IT fundamentals, I need to define a Computer Science fundamental, namely the concept of a stack.  A stack is a conceptual (or abstract) data structure where the last element in is the first element out (LIFO).  You put stuff into a stack by &#8220;pushing&#8221; it and you pull stuff out by &#8220;popping&#8221; them.  The wikipedia page for a stack (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stack_(abstract_data_type) ) is a good read.<br />
This is relevant because stacks are used extensively as the means for an operating system to handle programs and their associated memory spaces.  Generally, the memory associated with a process has three areas (arranged in a stack), namely the Text area (generally the program&#8217;s machine code), the data area (used for static variables), and the process stack, which is used to handle the flow of execution through the process.  When a process executes and hits a subroutine, the current <span class="il">information</span> for the process (variables, data, and a pointer to where the execution was last at) gets pushed onto the process stack.  This allows the subroutine to execute and do whatever it needs to do, and if further subroutines occur, the same thing happens.  When the subroutine is finished, the stack gets popped and the previous execution flow gets restored.</p>
<p>One of the earliest types of attacks against programming mistakes was called &#8216;stack smashing&#8217; (seminal paper here: http://www-inst.eecs.berkeley.edu/~cs161/fa08/papers/stack_smashing.pdf by Aleph One).  In this kind of attack, the attacker would try to stuff too much <span class="il">information</span> into a buffer (a block of data which sits on the process stack) which would overwrite the stack pointer and force the process to execute attacker-generated code included in the buffer.  Given the generally linear nature of how the stacks were handled, once you found a buffer overflow, exploiting it to make bad stuff happen was fairly straightforward.</p>
<p><span class="il">ASLR</span> (Address Space Layout Randomization) is an attempt to make the class of bugs called buffer overflows much more difficult to exploit.  When a process executes, it is generally given virtual memory space all to itself to work with.  So the idea was, rather than try to have all the process stack be clumped together, what if we just spread it out somewhat randomly throughout the virtual memory space?  This would mean that if somebody did find a buffer overflow, they would not know where the stack pointer was in order to affect the flow of the process and inject their code, raising the bar for attackers. (in theory)</p>
<p>Obviously bypassing <span class="il">ASLR</span> is a goal for attackers because it is a potential gate barring access to code execution <img src="https://s0.wp.com/wp-content/mu-plugins/wpcom-smileys/twemoji/2/72x72/1f609.png" alt="&#x1f609;" class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em;max-height: 1em" /></p>
<p><strong>3) What are two or three essential concepts for us to grasp about <span class="il">ASLR</span> and the various  bypass techniques available?</strong></p>
<p>So when it comes to <span class="il">ASLR</span> bypasses there are really only a couple different categories of methods, brute force or information leakage.</p>
<p>In many cases, <span class="il">ASLR</span> implementations were limited somehow.  For example, maybe there were only 16 bits (65535) of randomness, so if you were trying to exploit a service which would automatically restart if it crashed, you could keep trying until you got lucky.  Many <span class="il">ASLR</span> implementation suffer from some problem or another.</p>
<p>Another common problem with <span class="il">ASLR</span> is that there may be segments of code which DON&#8217;T use <span class="il">ASLR</span> (think external libraries) which are called from code that is using <span class="il">ASLR</span>. So it might be possible to jump into code at a well known location and then leverage that to further exploit.</p>
<p>Information leakage is the final issue that commonly arises.  The idea is that a different vulnerability (format string vulns are the most common) has to be exploited which will provide the attacker with a snapshot of memory, which can be analyzed to find the requisite information to proceed with the attack.</p>
<p><strong>4) What would you tell somebody in infosec who&#8217;s having trouble grasping how ASLR works and how it is bypassed? (For example, what niches in security really need to &#8220;get it&#8221;? What other things could they study up on first to grasp it better?)</strong></p>
<p>Honestly, unless you are an exploit developer, an application developer, or into operating systems memory design, a gist should be all you need to know. If you are a developer, there&#8217;s usually a compiler option somewhere which you&#8217;d need to enable to make sure that your program is covered. It is also worth noting that generally 64-bit programs have better ASLR because they can have more randomness in their address space.</p>
<p><strong>5) What about somebody who has a solid grasp on the basics and wants to delve deeper? (Any self-study suggestions? Are there any open source projects that could benefit from their help?)</strong></p>
<p>This topic rapidly reaches into the computer science scholarly paper area (Googling ASLR bypass pdfs will find you a lot of stuff). Also, look through Blackhat / DEF CON / other security conference archives, as many people will present their research. If you want to delve deeper, look into how the Linux kernel implements it, read through the kernel developer mailing lists, etc&#8230; lots of info available.</p>
<h2>Perspective 2: Mohamed</h2>
<p><strong>1) Thank you for joining us! Would you mind telling us a little about yourself, and your expertise related to ASLR / ASLR bypassing?</strong></p>
<p>Hi Lesley! My name is Mohamed, I&#8217;m a software engineer who has a lot of passion towards security. Some may know me from my blog (abatchy.com) where I write about various security concepts/challenges.</p>
<p>I currently work as an engineer on the Windows Security team where we design/implement security features and do other cool stuff.</p>
<p><strong>2) ASLR bypasses are common in security news, but a lot of infosec folks don&#8217;t fully understand what ASLR does, and why bypassing it is a goal for attackers. Can you please give us a &#8220;500-words-or-less&#8221; explanation of the concepts? (Assume an audience with solid IT fundamentals)</strong></p>
<p>Address space layout randomization (ASLR) is a security mitigation that aims to prevent an attacker from creating a reliable exploit. Its first implementation was over a decade and it became a stable in modern operating systems.</p>
<p>What it does is simple, the address space of a process is randomized on rerun/reboot depending on the implementation, this can be applied to the base address of the executable and libraries it loads as well as other data structures like the stack and the heap among other internal structures as well as the kernel (KASLR).</p>
<p>Executables are expected to be position-independent. In Windows, linking must be done with /DYNAMICBASE flag, while Linux requires -fPIE as a flag for gcc/ld.</p>
<p>How does that help? Well, exploits rely on knowledge about the address space to be able to manipulate the execution flow (I control EIP, where do I go next?) and with this information taken away, attackers can no longer depend on predictable addresses. When combined with other fundamental mitigations like DEP (Data Execution Prevention), exploiting memory corruption bugs becomes much harder.</p>
<p>Before we discuss the common bypassing techniques, it&#8217;s important to stress on that bypassing ASLR doesn&#8217;t directly enable code execution or pose a risk by itself as this is only a part of the exploit chain and you still need to trigger a vulnerability that results in code execution. Yet, finding an ASLR bypass mean that broken exploits can utilize that bypass again.</p>
<p>There are a few ways to bypass ASLR, some of these techniques are less likely to be applicable in modern OS/software than others:</p>
<ol>
<li> Information Disclosure: Most commonly used method to bypass ASLR nowadays, the attacker aims to “trick” the application into leaking an address.<br />
<blockquote>
<p>Example: CVE-2012-0769</p>
</blockquote>
</li>
<li> Abusing non-ASLR modules: The presence of a single non-ASLR module means an attacker has a reliable place to jump to. Nowadays, this is becoming less common.<br />
<blockquote>
<p>Example: CVE-2013-3893, CVE-2013-5057</p>
</blockquote>
</li>
<li> Partial overwrite: Instead of overwriting EIP, overwrite the lower bytes only. This way you don&#8217;t have to deal with the higher bytes affected by ASLR.<br />
<blockquote>
<p>Example: CVE-2007-0038</p>
</blockquote>
</li>
<li>Brute-forcing: Keep trying out different addresses. This assumes that the target won&#8217;t crash, and the virtual memory area is small (ASLR on 64-bit &gt; ASLR on 32-bit).<br />
<blockquote>
<p>Example: CVE-2003-0201</p>
</blockquote>
</li>
<li>Implementation flaws: Weak entropy, unexpected regression, logical mistakes or others. Lots of great research on this topic.<br />
<blockquote>
<p>Example: CVE-2015-1593, offset2lib</p>
</blockquote>
<p>In real world, attackers will need to bypass more than just ASLR.</li>
</ol>
<p><strong>3) What are two or three essential concepts for us to grasp about ASLR and the various bypass techniques available?</strong></p>
<ol>
<li>For ASLR to be efficient, all memory regions within a process (at least the executable ones) must be randomized, otherwise attackers have a reliable location to jump to. It&#8217;s possible that not all objects are randomized with the same entropy (randomization), in a way the object with the lowest entropy is the weakest link.</li>
<li>Bypassing ASLR doesn&#8217;t mean attackers can execute code. You still need an actual vulnerability that allows hijacking the execution flow.</li>
<li>Some bypasses aim to reduce the effective entropy</li>
</ol>
<p><strong>4) What would you tell somebody in infosec who&#8217;s having trouble grasping how ASLR works and how it is bypassed? (For example, what niches in security really need to &#8220;get it&#8221;? What other things could they study up on first to grasp it better?)</strong></p>
<ol>
<li>Understand the memory layout of a process for both Linux/Windows, see how they change on rerun/reboot.</li>
<li>Write a simple C++ program that prints the address of local variables/heap allocations with and without ASLR. Fire up a debugger and check the process layout of various segments.</li>
<li>Research past ASLR vulnerabilities and how they were used to bypass it and recreate them if possible.</li>
</ol>
<p><strong>5) What about somebody who has a solid grasp on the basics and wants to delve deeper? (Any self-study suggestions? Are there any open source projects that could benefit from their help?)</strong></p>
<ol>
<li>Understand the implementation differences for ASLR in Windows and Linux.</li>
<li>Familiarize yourself with other mitigations like DEP, stack cookies (Windows/Linux), AAAS, KSPP (Linux), policy-based mitigations like ACG/CIG (Windows). This list is in no way comprehensive but serves as a good start.</li>
<li>Solve exploitation challenges from CTFs, recreate public exploits that rely on bypassing ASLR.</li>
<li>Check PaX’s ASLR implementations.</li>
</ol>
<p>Recommended reads:</p>
<ol>
<li>Differences Between ASLR on Windows and Linux</li>
<li>On the effectiveness of DEP and ASLR</li>
<li>The info leak era on software exploitation</li>
<li>Exploiting Linux and PaX ASLR’s weaknesses on 32- and 64-bit systems</li>
</ol>
<p>For hands-on experience I recommend the following:</p>
<ol>
<li>RPISEC’s MBE course</li>
<li>https://exploit-exercises.com</li>
<li>CTFs</li>
</ol>
<h1>Blockchain (Tony Arcieri and Jesse Mundis)</h1>
<h2>Perspective One: Tony</h2>
<p><strong>1) Thanks for joining us. Would you mind telling us a little about your background, and your expertise with blockchain technology?</strong></p>
<p>I&#8217;m probably most known in the space for the blog post: &#8220;On the dangers of a <span class="il">blockchain</span> monoculture&#8220;, which covers both my (somewhat dated) views of blockchains and how alternative &#8220;next generation fintech&#8221; systems not based on blockchains might provide better alternatives. I spent the last year working for Chain.com, an enterprise blockchain company targeting cryptographic ledgers-as-a-service, which I recently left to pursue other interests.</p>
<p><strong>2) Would you please give us a 500-words-or-less explanation of what a blockchain is, and why the technology is important to us as security professionals? (Assume an audience with solid IT fundamentals)</strong></p>
<p>&#8220;Blockchain&#8221; is a buzzword which loosely refers to the immutable, append-only log of transactions used by Bitcoin, collectively agreed upon in a distributed manner using a novel consensus algorithm typically referred to as &#8220;Nakamoto consensus&#8221;. Other systems have adopted some of the ideas from Bitcoin, often changing them radically, but still referring to their design as a &#8220;blockchain&#8221;, furthering a lack of clarity around what the word actually refers to.</p>
<p>A &#8220;blockchain&#8221; is more or less analogous to a Merkle Tree with some questionable tweaks by Satoshi[2], which authenticates a batch of transactions which consist of input and output cryptographic authorization programs that lock/unlock stored values/assets using digital signature keys.</p>
<p>Bitcoin in particular uses a proof-of-work function to implement a sort of by-lottery distributed leader election algorithm. Being a buzzword, it&#8217;s unclear whether the use of a proof-of-work function is a requirement of a blockchain (the Bitcoin paper refers to the idea of a blockchain as a &#8220;proof-of-work chain&#8221;, for example), but in colloquial usage several other systems claiming to be based on a &#8220;blockchain&#8221; have adopted alternative authorization mechanisms, namely ones based around digital signatures rather than a proof-of-work function.</p>
<p>As a bit of trivia: the term &#8220;blockchain&#8221; does not appear in the original Bitcoin whitepaper. It appears to be a term originally used by Hal Finney prior to Bitcoin which Satoshi adopted from Hal.</p>
<p>[2]:<em> It really appears like Satoshi didn&#8217;t understand Merkle Trees very well: </em><em>https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin/blob/master/src/consensus/merkle.cpp#L9</em></p>
<p><strong>3) What are a couple really critical concepts we should understand with regards to how blockchain technology functions?</strong></p>
<p>Perhaps the most notable aspect of Bitcoin&#8217;s blockchain is its use of authorization programs as part of the &#8220;Nakamoto consensus&#8221; process: every transaction in Bitcoin involves two programs: an input program which has locked funds which will only unlock them if the authorization program&#8217;s requirements are met, and an output program which specifies how funds should be locked after being unlocked. Every validating node in the system executes every program to determine whether or not actions affecting the global state of the system are authorized.</p>
<p>This idea has been referred to as &#8220;smart contracts&#8221;, which get comparatively little attention with Bitcoin (versus, say, Ethereum) due to its restrictive nature of its scripting language, but every Bitcoin transaction involves unlocking and re-locking of stored value using authorization programs. In other words, &#8220;smart contracts&#8221; aren&#8217;t optional but instead the core mechanism by which the system transfers value. If there is one thing I think is truly notable about Bitcoin, it&#8217;s that it was the first wide-scale deployment of a system based on distributed consensus by authorization programs. I would refer to this idea more generally as &#8220;distributed authorization programs&#8221;.</p>
<p>Bitcoin in particular uses something called the &#8220;unspent transaction output&#8221; (UTXO) model. In this model, the system tracks a set of unspent values which have been locked by authorization programs/&#8221;smart contracts&#8221;. UTXOs once created are immutable and can only move from an unspent to spent state, at which point they are removed from the set. This makes the Bitcoin blockchain a sort of immutable functional data structure, which is a clean and reliable programming model.</p>
<p>Ethereum has experimented in abandoning this nice clean side effect-free programming model for one which is mutable and stateful. This has enabled much more expressive smart contracts, but generally ended in disaster as far as mutability/side effects allowing for new classes of program bugs, to the tune of the Ethereum system losing the equivalent of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of value.</p>
<p><strong>4) What would you tell somebody in infosec who&#8217;s struggling to conceptualize how a blockchain works? (For example, does everybody in the field really need to &#8220;get it&#8221;? Why or why not? What other things could they study up on to grasp it better?)</strong></p>
<p>There are other systems which are a bit more straightforward which share some of the same design goals as Bitcoin, but with a much narrower focus, a more well-defined threat model, and both a cleaner and more rigorous cryptographic design. These are so-called &#8220;transparency log&#8221; systems originally developed at Google, namely Certificate Transparency (CT), General Transparency (GT) a.k.a. Trillian, Key Transparency (KT), and Binary Transparency. These systems all maintain a &#8220;blockchain&#8221;-like append-only cryptographically authenticated log, but one whose structure is a pure Merkle Tree free of the wacky gizmos and doodads that Satoshi tried to add. I personally find these systems much easier to understand and consider their cryptographic design far superior to and far more elegant than what has been used in any extant &#8220;blockchain&#8221;-based system, to the point I would recommend anyone who is interested in blockchains study them first and use them as the basis of their cryptographic designs.</p>
<div>Links to <span class="il">information</span> about the design of the &#8220;transparency log&#8221; systems I just mentioned:</div>
<div></div>
<div>Certificate Transparency: https://www.certificate-transparency.org/log-proofs-work</div>
<div>General Transparency (a.k.a. Trillian): https://github.com/google/trillian/blob/master/docs/VerifiableDataStructures.pdf</div>
<div>Key Transparency: <a href="https://github.com/google/keytransparency/blob/master/docs/overview.md" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">https://github.com/google/keytransparency/blob/master/docs/overview.md<br />
</a></div>
<p><strong>5) What about somebody who has a solid grasp on the basics and wants to delve deeper? (Any self-study suggestions? Are there any open source projects that could benefit from their help?)</strong></p>
<div class="gmail_extra">Here are some links to specific bits and pieces of Bitcoin I think are worth studying:</div>
<div class="gmail_extra"></div>
<div class="gmail_extra">&#8211; <span class="il">Blockchain</span> Structure: http://chimera.labs.oreilly.com/books/1234000001802/ch07.html</div>
<div class="gmail_extra">
<div>&#8211; Bitcoin Transactions (a.k.a. UTXO model): http://chimera.labs.oreilly.com/books/1234000001802/ch05.html</div>
<div>
<div>&#8211; Bitcoin Script: https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Script</div>
</div>
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<h2>Perspective Two: Jesse</h2>
<p><strong>1) Let&#8217;s start with the easy one. Would you please tell us a little about your background, and your expertise with blockchain technology?</strong></p>
<p>I&#8217;m a C / Unix Senior Software Developer with a CISSP, who has worked with encryption and payment technologies throughout my career. I have a recently published paper on the possible implications of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) on blockchain-based businesses, and have a pending patent application involving cryptographic keying material and cryptocurrencies. As an Info Sec professional, I enjoy the chance to share some knowledge with folks who wish to learn more about the field.</p>
<p><strong>2) Would you please give us a 500-words-or-less explanation of what a blockchain is, and why the technology is important to us as security professionals? (Assume an audience with solid IT fundamentals)</strong></p>
<p>A blockchain is fundamentally a ledger of transactions, with each &#8220;block&#8221; or set of transactions hashed in such a way as to link it to the previous block, forming a &#8220;chain.&#8221; There are many blockchains, with varying implementations and design goals, but at their core, they all provide for continuity and integrity of an ever-growing ledger of transactions. They provide an unalterable(*) record of events, in a distributed fashion, verifiable by any participant, and can be an important tool for providing &#8220;Integrity&#8221; in the CIA triad. The Bitcoin blockchain is the most famous, providing a basis for the BTC currency, so I will use it as a blockchain example. However, please understand that blockchain transactions don&#8217;t have to be financial in nature &#8211; they could be hashes of timestamped signed documents, or just about anything else you might want to keep an unalterable, witnessed record of.</p>
<p><em>(*) &#8220;unalterable&#8221; &#8211; In this case means that the network integrity as a whole is only secured by substantial ongoing compute power in a proof-of-work blockchain. Without that, you lose the core assurance the technology is trying to provide.</em></p>
<p>In the proof-of-work bitcoin blockchain, transactions are effectively of the form &#8220;At time Z, wallet number X paid wallet number Y the sum of N bitcoins.&#8221; Imagine many of these messages being dumped on a common message bus worldwide. &#8220;Miners&#8221; (who should more descriptively be thought of as &#8220;notaries&#8221;) collect up a &#8220;block&#8221; of these transactions, and along with the digital hash of the previous block in the chain, begin searching for a nonce value, which when added to their block, will make the hash of their block have a required number of leading zeros to be considered successful. The winning miner announces this block with their nonce to the world. All other miners confirm the block is valid, throw their in-progress block away, and begin working on a new block, which must now contain the winning block&#8217;s hash, thus adding an other link to the chain.</p>
<p>Checking the hash of a block is trivial, but finding the right nonce to create a valid hash takes time inversely proportional to the miner&#8217;s computing power. Once the chain has a sufficiently large number of blocks, each chaining back to the previous block, it becomes impractical to refute, change, or delete any records deep enough in the chain, without re-doing all the computational work which follows. An attacker would require a substantial percentage of the entire computational capacity of the network to do this.</p>
<p>In summary, a &#8220;block&#8221; is a set or group of transactions or entries plus a nonce, and the &#8220;chain&#8221; is formed by including the hash of the previous block as part of the next block. The weight of all future computations to find nonces for future blocks collectively secure the integrity of all the previous records in the chain.</p>
<p><strong>3) What are a couple really critical concepts we should understand with regards to how blockchain technology functions?</strong></p>
<p>&#8220;Blockchain&#8221; is not magical security pixie dust, and many new startup businesses pitching blockchain haven&#8217;t thought it through. As mentioned above, proof-of-work blockchains need a lot of compute power to secure them. Bitcoin is a fascinating social hack, in that by making the transactions about a new currency, the algorithm was designed to incentivize participants to donate compute power to secure the network in return for being paid fees in the new currency. On the other hand, private blockchains, kept within a single company may be no more secure against tampering than other existing record keeping mechanisms. That is not to say blockchains are useless outside of cryptocurrencies. The blockchain is applicable to &#8220;The Byzantine Generals Problem&#8221; [1] in that it can create a distributed, trusted, ledger of agreement, between parties who don&#8217;t necessarily trust each other. I fully expect the basics of blockchain technology to soon be taught in CS classes, right alongside data structures and algorithms.</p>
<p>[1] https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/publication/byzantine-generals-problem/</p>
<p><strong>4) What would you tell somebody in infosec who&#8217;s struggling to conceptualize how a blockchain works? (For example, does everybody in the field really need to &#8220;get it&#8221;? Why or why not? What other things could they study up on to grasp it better?)</strong></p>
<p>Keep it simple. A block is just a set of entries, and the next block is chained back to the previous block via inclusion of the previous block&#8217;s hash. The hash on each individual block is the integrity check for that block, and by including it in the next block, you get an inheritance of integrity. A change in any earlier block would be detected by the mismatched hash, and replacing it with a new hash would invalidate all the later blocks. Hashing is computationally easy, but finding a new nonce to make the altered hash valid in a proof-of-work scheme requires redoing all the work for all the blocks after the change. That&#8217;s really all you need to keep in mind.</p>
<p>Everyone in the security field does not need to understand blockchain to any deep level. You should have a basic understanding, like I&#8217;ve sketched out above, to understand if blockchain makes sense for your given use case. Again, using the more famous Bitcoin blockchain as an example, I&#8217;d strongly recommend everyone read the original 2008 Satoshi white paper initially describing Bitcoin[2]. It&#8217;s only eight pages, light on math, and very readable. It encapsulates many of the ideas all blockchains share, but I have to say again that while Bitcoin is implemented on the original blockchain, it is far from the only way to &#8220;do blockchains&#8221; today.</p>
<p>[2] https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf</p>
<p><strong>5) What about somebody who has a solid grasp on the basics and wants to delve deeper? (Any self-study suggestions? Are there any open source projects that could benefit from their help?)</strong></p>
<p>Blockchain startups, projects, and new cryptocurrencies are all hot. Ethereum is getting a lot of press due to its &#8220;smart contracts&#8221; which provide compute actions executed on their blockchain. There are over ten thousand hits on github for &#8220;blockchain&#8221; right now, and over one hundred and fifty for books and videos at Safari Online. The challenge really is to narrow down your interest. What do you want to do with blockchain technology? That should guide your next steps. Just to throw out some ideas, how about finding a more power efficient way to do proof-of-work? Currently the Bitcoin network as a whole is estimated to be running at about 12 petaHashes per second, and consuming 30 TerraWatt-Hours per year. This is environmentally unsustainable. Or, examine some of the proof-of-stake alt-coins. Figure out what kinds of problems can we solve with this nifty, distributed, trust-out-of-trustlessness tool.</p>
<p>In my opinion, blockchain technologies really are a tool searching for the right problem. An alt-currency was an interesting first experiment, which may or may not stand the test of time. Smart contracts don&#8217;t seem ready for production business use to me just yet, but what do I know &#8211; Ethereum has a 45 billion dollar market cap, second only to Bitcoin right now. I personally don&#8217;t see how inventory tracking within an enterprise is really done better with a private blockchain than traditional methods, but I do see how one might be of use for recording land title deed transfers in a government setting. All of these, and many more activities are having blockchain technologies slapped on to them, to see what works. My advice is to find something which excites you, and try it.</p>
<p>The distributed, immutable ledger a blockchain provides feels like it is an important new thing to me for our industry. Maybe one of you will figure out what it&#8217;s really good for.</p>
<h1>DNSSEC (Paul Ebersman)</h1>
<p><strong>1) Nice to meet you, Paul. Could you please tell us a little </strong><strong>about yourself, and a bit about your work with DNSSEC?</strong></p>
<p>I&#8217;ve been supporting internet connected servers since 1984, large scale DNS since 1990. I&#8217;ve been involved with the IETF development of DNS/DNSSEC standards and the DNS-OARC organization. For 3+ years, I was the DNS/DNSSEC SME for Comcast, one of the largest users of DNSSEC signing and validation.</p>
<p><strong>2) Would you please give us a brief explanation of what DNSSEC is, and why it&#8217;s important?</strong></p>
<p>The DNS is used to convert human friendly strings, like http://www.example.com into the IP address or other information a computer or phone needs to connect a user to the desired service.</p>
<p>But if a malicious person can forge the DNS answer your device gets and give you the IP address of a &#8220;bad&#8221; machine instead of the server you think you&#8217;re connecting to, they can steal login information, infect your device with malware, etc.</p>
<p>DNSSEC is a technology that lets the owner of a domain, such as example.com, put cryptographic signatures on DNS records. If the user then uses a DNS resolver that does DNSSEC validation, the resolver can verify that the DNS answer it passes to the end user really is exactly what the domain owner signed, i.e. that the IP address for http://www.example.com is the IP address the example.com owner wanted you to connect to.</p>
<p>That validation means that the user will know that this answer is correct, or that someone has modified the answer and that it shouldn&#8217;t be trusted.</p>
<p><strong>3) What are a couple really critical concepts we should understand with regards to how DNSSEC functions?</strong></p>
<p>DNSSEC means that a 3rd party can&#8217;t modify DNS answers without it being detected.</p>
<p>However, this protection is only in place if the domain owner &#8220;signs&#8221; the zone data and if the user is using a DNS resolver that is doing DNSSSEC validation.</p>
<p><strong>4) What would you tell somebody in infosec who&#8217;s struggling to conceptualize how DNSSEC works?</strong></p>
<p>DNSSEC is end to end data integrity only. It does raise the bar on how hard it is to hijack the DNS zone, modify data in that zone or modify the answer in transit.</p>
<p>But it just means you know you got whatever the zone owner put into the zone and signed. There are some caveats:</p>
<p>&#8211; It does not mean that the data is &#8220;safe&#8221;, just unmodified in transit.<br />
&#8211; This is data integrity, not encryption. Anyone in the data path can<br />
see both the DNS query and response, who asked and who answered.<br />
&#8211; It doesn&#8217;t guarantee delivery of the answer. If the zone data is DNSSEC signed and the user uses a DNSSEC validating resolver and the data doesn&#8217;t validate,the user gets no answer to the DNS query at all, making this a potential denial of service attack.</p>
<p>Because it does work for end to end data integrity, DNSSEC is being used to distribute certificates suitable for email/web (DANE) and to hold public keys for various PKI (PGP keys). Use of DNSSEC along with TLS/HTTPS greatly increases the security and privacy of internet use, since you don&#8217;t connect to a server unless DNSSEC validation for your answer succeeds.</p>
<p><strong>5) What about somebody who has a solid grasp on the basics and wants to delve deeper?</strong></p>
<p>Start with the documentation for your DNS authoritative server for information on signing your zones. Similarly, read the documentation for your recursive resolver and enable DNSSEC validation on your recursive resolver (or use a public validating resolver, such as 8.8.8.8 or 9.9.9.9).</p>
<p>Here are some good online resources:</p>
<p>For debugging DNSSEC problems or seeing if a zone is correctly signed: https:/www.dnsviz.com</p>
<p>For articles on DNSSEC: https://www.internetsociety.org/deploy360/dnssec/</p>
<h1>PKI (Tarah M. Wheeler and Mohammed Aldoub)</h1>
<h2>Perspective One: Tarah</h2>
<p><em>(Tarah Wheeler, principal security researcher at Red Queen Technologies, New America Cybersecurity Policy Fellow, author Women In Tech. Find her at <a href="https://twitter.com/tarah">@tarah</a> on Twitter.)</em></p>
<p><strong>1) Hi, Tarah! Why don&#8217;t we start off with you telling us a little about your background, and your expertise with PKI.</strong></p>
<p>My tech journey started in academia, where I spent my time writing math in Java. As I transitioned more and more to tech, I ended up as the de facto PKI manager for several projects. I handled certificate management while I was at Microsoft Game Studios working on Lips for Xbox and Halo for Xbox, and debugged the cert management process internally for two teams I worked on. On my own projects and for two startups, I used a 2009 Thawte initiative that provided certificates free to open source projects, and then rolled my own local CA out of that experience. I managed certs from Entrust for one startup. I handled part of certificate management at Silent Circle, the company founded by Phil Zimmermann and Jon Callas, the creators of PGP. I was Principal Security Advocate at Symantec, and Senior Director of Engineering in Website Security—the certificate authority that owns familiar words like VeriSign, Thawte, GeoTrust, and others. I was one of the Symantec representatives to the CA/B (Certification Authority/Browser) Forum, the international body that hosts fora on standards for  certificates, adjudicates reliability/trustworthiness of certificate authorities, and provides a discussion ground for the appropriate issuance and implementation of certificates in browsers. Now, I use LetsEncrypt and Comodo certs for two WordPress servers. I have a varied and colorful, and fortunately broad experience with cert management, and it helped me get a perspective on the field and on good vs. bad policy.</p>
<p><strong>2) Would you please give your best, &#8220;500 words or less&#8221; explanation of what PKIs are and what they&#8217;re used for today (assume an audience with solid IT fundamentals)?</strong></p>
<p>PKI or public key infrastructure is about how two entities learn to trust each other in order to exchange messages securely. You may already know that Kerberos and the KDC (Key Distribution Center) work on a shared-secrets principle, where users can go to a central authority and get authorization to communicate and act in a given network. PKI is a more complex system that understands lots of different networks which may or may not share a common trust authority. In PKI, you’re negotiating trust with a root which then tells you all the other entities that you can trust by default. The central idea of public key infrastructure is that some keys you already trust can delegate their trust (and hence yours) to other keys you don’t yet know. Think of it as a very warm introduction by a friend to someone you don’t yet know!</p>
<p>There are five parts of certificate or web PKI.</p>
<ol>
<li><b>Certificate authorities</b>, the granting bodies for public/private keys, are in practice a form of verification to grease those wheels when there’s no other method of demonstrating that you are who you say you are…a function of identity. Yeah, I know I said that two entities can trust each other without a common authority, but humans aren’t good at that kind of trust without someone vouching for them. So, we have CAs.</li>
<li><b>Registration authorities</b> have what is essentially a license to issue certificates based on being trusted by the CA, and dependent upon their ability to validate organizational identity in a trustworthy way. Certificate authorities may perform their own registration, or they might outsource it. CAs issue certificates, and RAs verify the information provided in those certificates.</li>
<li><b>Certificate databases</b> store requests for certificates as opposed to the certificates themselves.</li>
<li><b>Certificate stores</b> hold the actual certificates. I wasn’t in charge of naming these bloody things or I’d have switched this one with certificate databases because it’s not intuitive.</li>
<li><b>Key archival servers</b> are a possible backup to the certificate database in case of some kind of disaster. This is optional and not used by all CAs.</li>
</ol>
<p>Keys work like this: a pair of keys is generated from some kind of cryptographic algorithm. One common algorithm is the RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman) algorithm, and ECDSA (Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm) is coming into more common use. Think of those as wildly complicated algebraic equations that spit out an ‘x’ string and a ‘y’ string at the end that are interrelated. You can give the ‘x’ to anyone anywhere, and they can encrypt any message, ‘m’ with that x. Now, while they know the original message, <i>only you can unencrypt the message</i> using your ‘y’ key. That’s why you can send the ‘x’ key to anyone who wants to talk to you, but you should protect the secrecy of your ‘y’ key with your teeth and nails.</p>
<p>The two major uses for PKI are for email and web traffic. On a very high level, remember that traffic over the Internet is just a series of packets—little chunks of bits and bytes. While we think of email messages and web requests as philosophically distinct, at the heart, they’re just packets with different port addresses. We define the difference between messages and web requests arbitrarily, but the bits and bytes are transmitted in an identical fashion. So, encrypting those packets is conceptually the same in PKI as well.</p>
<p>If you want to secure email back and forth between two people, the two most common forms of PKI are PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) and S/MIME (Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions). PGP is the first commonly used form of email encryption. Created by Phil Zimmermann and Jon Callas in the early 1990s, PGP is notoriously both secure and difficult to configure for actual human usage, but remains the standard for hyper-secure communication such as with journalists or in government usage. S/MIME is the outsourced version of PKI that your email provider almost certainly uses (once they’ve machine-read your email for whatever commercial/advertising purposes they have) to transmit your email to another person over open Internet traffic. While S/MIME is something most users don’t have to think about, you’ll want to think about whether you trust both your email provider and the provider of the person you’re sending your email to.</p>
<p>The other major use for PKI is a web server authenticating and encrypting communications back and forth between a client—an SSL/TLS certificate that’s installed and working when you see “https” instead of “http” at the beginning of a URL. Most of the time, when we’re talking about PKI in a policy sense or in industry, this is what we mean. Certificate authorities such as DigiCert, Comodo, LetsEncrypt, and others will create those paired keys for websites to use to both verify that they are who they say they are, and to encrypt traffic between a client who’s then been assured that they’re talking to the correct web server and not a visually similar fake site created by an attacker.</p>
<p>This is the major way that we who create the Internet protect people’s personal information in transit from a client to a server.</p>
<p><i>Quick tangent: I’m casually using the terms “identification” and “authentication,” and to make sure we’re on the same page: identification is making sure someone is who they say they are. Authentication is making sure they’re allowed to do what they say they’re allowed to do. If I’m a night-time security guard, I can demand ID and verify the identity of anybody with their driver’s license, but that doesn’t tell me if they’re allowed to be in the building they’re </i><i>in. The most famous example in literature of authentication without identification is the carte blanche letter Cardinal de Richelieu wrote for Madame de Winter in “The Three Musketeers,” saying that “By </i><i>My Hand</i><i>, and for the good of the State, the </i><i>bearer has done</i><i> what </i><i>has</i><i> been </i><i>done</i><i>.” Notably, D’Artagnan got away with literal murder by being authenticated without proof of identification when he present</i><i>ed this letter to Louis XIII at the end of the novel. Also: yes, this is a spoiler, but Alexandre Dumas wrote it in 1844. You’ve had 174 years to read it, so I’m calling it fair game. </i></p>
<p>There are a few other uses for PKI, including encrypting documents in XML and some Internet Of Things applications (but far, far fewer IoT products are using PKI well than should be, if I can mount my saponified standing cube for a brief moment).</p>
<p>Why do we use PKI and why do information security experts continue to push people and businesses to use encryption everywhere? It’s because encryption is the key (pun absolutely intended) to increasing the expense in terms of time for people who have no business watching your traffic to watch your traffic. Simple tools like Wireshark can sniff and read your mail and web traffic in open wireless access points without it.</p>
<p><strong>3) What are a couple really critical concepts we as infosec people should understand with regards to how a modern PKI functions?</strong></p>
<p>The difference between identity and security/encryption. We as security people understand the difference, but most of the time, the way we explain it to people is to say “are you at PayPal? See the big green bar? That’s how you know you’re at PayPal” as opposed to “whatever the site is that you’re at, your comms are encrypted on the way to them and back.</p>
<p>There’s a bit of a polite war on between people who think that CAs should help to verify identity and those who think it is solely a function of encryption/security. Extended validation (“EV certs”) certificates show up as those green bars in many desktop browsers, and are often used to show that a company is who they say they are, not just whether your traffic back and forth is safe.</p>
<p>Whether they *should* be used to identify websites and companies is a topic still up for debate and there are excellent arguments on both sides. An extended validation certificate can prove there’s a real company registered with the correct company name to own that site, but in rare cases, it may still not be the company you’re looking for. However, in practice and especially for nontechnical people, identifying the site is still a step up from being phished and is often the shortcut explanation we give our families at holidays when asked how to avoid bad links and giving out credit card info to the wrong site.</p>
<p><strong>4) What would you tell somebody in infosec who&#8217;s struggling to conceptualize how PKI works? (For example, does everybody in the field really need to &#8220;get it&#8221;? Why or why not? What other things could they study up on to grasp it better?)</strong></p>
<p>PKI has become an appliance with service providers and a functional oligopoly of certificate authorities that play well with the major browsers. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s simply how this technology evolved into its current form of staid usefulness and occasional security hiccups. In reality, most people would do better knowing how best to implement PKI, since vulnerabilities are in general about the endpoints of encryption, not in the encryption itself. For instance: don’t leave <em>777</em> perms on the directory with your private keys. If your security is compromised, it’s likely not because someone cracked your key encryption—they just snagged the files from a directory they shouldn’t have been allowed in. Most PKI security issues are actually sysadmin issues. A new 384-bit ECDSA key isn’t going to be cracked by the NSA brute forcing it. It’ll be stolen from a thumb drive at a coffee shop. PKI security is the same as all other kinds of security; if you don’t track your assets and keep them updated, you’ve got Schroedinger’s Vulnerability on your hands.</p>
<p>PKI isn’t the lowest-hanging fruit on the security tree, but having gaping network/system security holes is like leaving a convenient orchard ladder lying about.</p>
<p><strong>5) What about somebody who has a solid grasp on the basics and wants to delve deeper? (Any self-study suggestions? Are there any open source projects that could benefit from their help?)</strong></p>
<p>Roll your own certs and create your own CA. Do it for the practice. I was on Ubuntu years ago when I was rolling my own, and I used the excellent help docs. One best security practice is to regularly generate and use new keys, instead of keeping the same key for years and years, for the same reasons that changing your password regularly for high-security sites is a good idea—and that’s true whether you’re creating your own certs and local CA or if you’re simply purchasing a certificate from a CA. As with so much else, rolling your own crypto means that YMMV, so if you’re thinking of doing so formally and for a company or project that holds critical or personal information, get a pro to assess it. Think of this like a hobbyist building cars or airplanes at home. Most may be fine with riding in their own homebrewed contraptions, but wouldn’t put a child in it. If you don’t have the time to be a PKI professional, don’t keep other people’s data safe with your home-brewed certificate authority.</p>
<p>Most of the time, security issues aren’t with the encryption itself, but with how it’s been implemented and what happens on the endpoints—not with the math, but with the people. Focus on keeping your keys safe, your networks segmented, and your passwords unique, and you’ll be ok!</p>
<p><em>*I would like to thank <a href="https://twitter.com/sleevi_">Ryan Sleevi</a> for feedback, and especially for providing the Kerberos/PKI analogy for comparison. All errors are mine.</em></p>
<h2>Perspective Two: Mohammed</h2>
<p><strong>1) Thank you sharing your knowledge! When you reached out to me, you noted you had quite a unique perspective on PKI. Would you mind telling us a little about your background, and your expertise on the subject?</strong></p>
<p>In my first information security job in the government of Kuwait, we had the opportunity to work on the country&#8217;s national PKI and Authentication project in its infancy, basically from the start, and together in a small team (5 at the time) we set out on a journey of ultra-accelerated and solid education, training and development for the country&#8217;s custom in-house solutions. Deciding that development of internal capability is far more useful, compliant with national security, and of course more fun, we began to develop our own tools and libraries for PKI, authentication, smartcards, and related technology. We produced our first version deployed to the public in 2010, much sooner than most (if not all) countries in the region, so it was for us a &#8220;throw them in the sea to learn swimming&#8221; type of experience. Developing certificate pinning in 2010 in C++ is not fun, but if there is one thing I learned, it&#8217;s this: chase the cutting edge, challenge yourself, and don&#8217;t belittle yourself or your background.</p>
<p><strong>2) Would you please give your best, &#8220;500 words or less&#8221; explanation of what PKIs are and what they&#8217;re used for today (assume an audience with solid IT fundamentals)?</strong></p>
<p>PKI (Public Key Infrastructure – ignore the name, it&#8217;s counterintuitive) is basically the set of technologies and standards/procedures that help you manage and utilize real-world cryptography.</p>
<p>PKI basically is a (major) field of applied cryptography.</p>
<p>If you ever took a cryptography course, while not being a total math nerd, and found out there&#8217;s lots of theory and math gibberish, then I can totally understand and sympathize. I personally believe math is one of the worst ways to get introduced to cryptography (just like grammar is a really bad way to start learning a new language). Cryptography should first be taught in an applied crypto fashion, then as one understands the main concepts and fundamentals, math can be slowly introduced when needed (You probably don&#8217;t need to understand Chinese Remainder Theorem to be able to use RSA!).</p>
<p>Ever visited an HTTPS website and wondered how you connected securely without having any shared keys to that website? That&#8217;s because of PKI.</p>
<p>Without asymmetric encryption, it would be impossible to create global-scale encrypted communication standards like SSL without presharing your keys with everyone in the world, and without PKI, managing global-scale asymmetric encryption deployments would be impossible at both the technical and management level.</p>
<p>So where is PKI in our world? Everywhere!</p>
<p>If you connected to HTTPS websites: PKI</p>
<p>Used Windows Update: PKI</p>
<p>Ran an application from a verified publisher: PKI</p>
<p>Email security? PKI</p>
<p>Connected through RDP or SSH? PKI</p>
<p>PKI encompasses technologies related to digital certificates, keys, encryption, signing, verification and procedures related to enrollment, registration, validation and other requirements that these technologies depend on.</p>
<p>Think of Let&#8217;s Encrypt. It&#8217;s now a Certificate Authority (entity that gives you certificates to put on your site and enable https/ssl/tls). To give you a certificate, they have certain procedures to check your identity and right to have a certificate issued to your domain name. This way anybody in the world can securely connect to your website without having to trust you personally through this delegated chain of trust.</p>
<p>For Let&#8217;s Encrypt to be trusted globally, proper application of PKI must be done, and must be verified by 3rd parties. If this trust is violated or abused through improper practices, compromise or negligence, you lose total or partial trust globally. DigitNotar went out of business after state actors compromised its CA and issued fake certificates to global websites, allowing them to have semi-automatic exploitation of wide scale communications. Symantec used improper certificate issuance practices and is now scheduled for full distrust in browser on September 2018 (They have already sold their PKI business to DigiCert).</p>
<p>The same idea applies to almost every popular software we run: It&#8217;s signed by trusted publishers to verify ownership. Software updates are, too.</p>
<p>Without PKI, you can&#8217;t boot your device with even a hint of security.</p>
<p>Fun exercise: Go check your device&#8217;s list of trusted Root Certificate authorities (Root CA: All powerful entities having -at least theoretical- power to compromise most of your communications and systems if their power is abused and targeted against you). You&#8217;d be surprised to find entries for so many foreign government CAs (sometimes even China) already trusted by your device!</p>
<p><strong>3) What are a couple really critical concepts we as infosec people should understand with regards to how a modern PKI functions?</strong></p>
<p>There are many concepts to understand in PKI, but I&#8217;ll list the ones I think are most important based on the mistakes I&#8217;ve seen in the wild:</p>
<p>&#8211; Learn the importance of securing and non-sharing of private keys (real world blunders: Superfish adware, VMWare VDP and Rapid7 Nexpose appliances ) https://blog.rapid7.com/2017/05/17/rapid7-nexpose-virtual-appliance-duplicate-ssh-host-key-cve-2017-5242/</p>
<p>&#8211; Know the secure and insecure protocol/algorithm configurations (real world blunders: Rapid7 CVE-2017-5243 SSH weak configs, Flame malware, FREAK vulnerability (using weak RSA_EXPORT configs) – Even NSA.GOV website was vulnerable! https://blog.cryptographyengineering.com/2015/03/03/attack-of-week-freak-or-factoring-nsa</p>
<p>&#8211; Don’t charge the bull; dance around it. Most PKI implementations can be attacked/bypassed not by trying to break the math involved but by abusing wrongly put trust, wide-open policies, bad management and wrong assumptions. Real world blunder: GoDaddy issued wrong certificates because they implemented a bad challenge-response method that was bypassed by 404 pages that reflected the requsted URL – so GoDaddy tool thought the server error was a valid response to their random code challenge: https://www.infoworld.com/article/3157535/security/godaddy-revokes-nearly-9000-ssl-certificates-issued-without-proper-validation.html</p>
<p><strong>4) What would you tell somebody in infosec who&#8217;s struggling to conceptualize how PKI works? (For example, does everybody in the field really need to &#8220;get it&#8221;? Why or why not? What other things could they study up on to grasp it better?)</strong></p>
<p>Learn it in an applied fashion. No math. Take a look at your own setup. Check out the Digital Signature tab in any signed EXE that you have on your system. Open wireshark and checkout the SSL handshake, or wait till an OCSP request/response is made and check how it looks in wireshark. Get familiar a bit with PKI tools such as openssl.<br />
Or write a small program that connects over SSL to some SSL port, then write a small program that listens on an SSL interface. Use ready-made libraries at first.</p>
<p><strong>5) What about somebody who has a solid grasp on the basics and wants to delve deeper? (Any self-study suggestions? Are there any open source projects that could benefit from their help?)</strong></p>
<p>Check out the following topics/ideas:</p>
<p>&#8211; Certificate Transparency.</p>
<p>&#8211; OCSP stapling.</p>
<p>&#8211; Code signing.</p>
<p>&#8211; Checkout The Update Framework (https://theupdateframework.github.io/ ), to learn how to implement secure software updates.</p>
<p>&#8211; Implementing client certificates for server-to-server communications.</p>
<p>&#8211; Hardware security modules (HSMs). YubiHSM is an affordable such piece of hardware.</p>
<p>I believe understanding PKI is growing more important as we start automating more and more of our tools and workflows, and that using tools (such as certbot) is not a valid excuse to not learn the fundamentals.</p>
<h1>Frida (Dawn Isabel and Jahmel [Jay] Harris)</h1>
<h2>Perspective One: Dawn</h2>
<div><strong>1) Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Dawn. Would you mind telling us a little about yourself, and your expertise with <span class="il">Frida</span>?</strong></div>
<div></div>
<div>
<p class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-p1">Thanks for the opportunity!<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>I’ve been in <span class="il">information</span> <span class="il">security</span> for around 12 years, and before that worked as a web application developer.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>I currently work as a consultant, primarily testing web and mobile application <span class="il">security</span>.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>I’ve been using <span class="il">Frida</span> for a little over a year, and most of my experience with it is on mobile platforms.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>I regularly write scripts for <span class="il">Frida</span> to automate testing tasks and to teach others about iOS internals.</p>
<p class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-p1"><strong>2) Assume we work in <span class="il">infosec</span>, but have never used <span class="il">Frida</span>. How would you briefly explain the framework to us? Why is it useful for <span class="il">security</span> professionals? (Assume an audience with solid IT fundamentals)</strong></p>
<p class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-p1">At a high level, <span class="il">Frida</span> is a framework that enables you to inject your own code (JavaScript) into an application at runtime.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>One of the simplest use cases for this is tracing or debugging &#8211; if you’ve ever sprinkled “print” statements in a program to debug it, you’ll immediately appreciate using <span class="il">Frida</span> to inject logging into an application to see when and how functions and methods are called!<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span><span class="il">Security</span> professionals will also use <span class="il">Frida</span> to bypass <span class="il">security</span> controls in an application &#8211; for instance, to make an iOS application think that a device is not jailbroken, or to force an application to accept an invalid SSL certificate.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>On “jailed” platforms like stock iOS, <span class="il">Frida</span> provides <span class="il">security</span> professionals with a window into the application’s inner workings &#8211; you can interact with everything the application can, including the filesystem and memory.</p>
<p class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-p1"><strong>3) What are a couple important things to know about <span class="il">Frida</span> before we start using it?</strong></p>
<p>I think the first thing to understand is that <span class="il">Frida</span> is ultimately a framework for building tools.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Although it comes with several useful command-line tools for exploring applications (the <span class="il">Frida</span> command-line interface (CLI) and <span class="il">frida</span>-trace are both invaluable!), it isn’t a scanner or set-and-forget tool that will output a list of vulnerabilities.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>If you are looking for a flexible, open-ended framework that will facilitate your runtime exploration, <span class="il">Frida</span> might be for you!<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span></p>
<p>The second thing to keep in mind is that <span class="il">Frida</span> is much more useful if you approach it with a specific goal, especially when you are starting out.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>For instance, a good initial goal might be “figure out how the application interacts with the network”.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>To use <span class="il">Frida</span> to accomplish that goal, you would first need to do a little research around determining what libraries, classes, functions, and methods are involved in network communications in the application.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Once you have a list of those targets, you can use one of <span class="il">Frida</span>’s tools (such as <span class="il">frida</span>-trace) to get an idea of how they are invoked.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Because <span class="il">Frida</span> is so flexible, the specifics of how you use it will vary greatly on the particular problem you are trying to solve.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Sometimes you’ll be able to rely on the provided command-line tools, and sometimes you’ll need to write your own scripts using <span class="il">Frida</span> as a library.</p>
</div>
<div></div>
<div><strong>4) What would you tell somebody in <span class="il">infosec</span> who&#8217;s having trouble using <span class="il">Frida</span>? (For example, what niches in <span class="il">security</span> really need to &#8220;get it&#8221;? What other things could they study up on first to grasp it better?)</strong></div>
<div></div>
<div>
<p class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-p1">When I first started using <span class="il">Frida</span>, I tried to jump right in writing scripts from scratch without having a clear idea of what I was trying to accomplish.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Figuring out all the moving parts at once ended up slowing me down, and felt overwhelming!<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Based on those experiences, I usually recommend that people who are new to <span class="il">Frida</span> get started by using <span class="il">frida</span>-trace.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>The neat thing about <span class="il">frida</span>-trace is that it will generate stubs called “handlers” that print a simple log message when the functions and methods you specify are invoked.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>These handlers are injected into the target process by <span class="il">frida</span>-trace, which also handles details like receiving and formatting the log messages.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Editing the handlers is a great way to learn about <span class="il">Frida</span>’s JavaScript API (<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-s1">https://www.<span class="il">frida</span>.re/docs/javascript-api/</span>) and gain visibility into specific areas of an application.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>There is a nice walkthrough of the process of editing a handler script in the post “Hacking Android Apps With <span class="il">Frida</span> I” (<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-s1">https://www.codemetrix.net/hacking-android-apps-with-<span class="il">frida</span>-1/</span>).</p>
<p>Once you are comfortable editing the handler code, experiment with creating your own self-contained script that can be loaded into a process using the <span class="il">Frida</span> CLI.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Start by loading some examples that are compatible with your platform, and then try using those as a template to write your own.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>There are many example scripts you can try on <span class="il">Frida</span> Codeshare (<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-s1">https://codeshare.<span class="il">frida</span>.re/</span>) &#8211; copy the code to a file so you can easily edit it, and load it into the <span class="il">Frida</span> CLI using the &#8220;-l&#8221; flag.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Initially, aim to gain proficiency using <span class="il">Frida</span> to invoke native methods in the application.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Then practice using the Interceptor to attach to and replace functions.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Incidentally, if you started out by using <span class="il">frida</span>-trace then using the Interceptor will be very familiar &#8211; just compare the contents of a handler script to the Interceptor.attach() example shown at <span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-s1">https://www.<span class="il">frida</span>.re/docs/javascript-api/#interceptor</span>!</p>
<p>I don’t think you need to have a deep understanding of <span class="il">Frida</span>’s internals to use it, but it is definitely helpful to understand the architecture at a high level.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span><span class="il">Frida</span>’s “Hacking” page has a nice diagram that lays out the different components (<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-s1">https://www.<span class="il">frida</span>.re/docs/hacking/</span>).<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>You’ll also want to know enough JavaScript that you don’t spend a lot of time struggling with syntax and basic programming primitives.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>If you’ve never written in a scripting language, running through some JavaScript tutorials will make it easier to use <span class="il">Frida</span> with the provided command-line tools.</p>
<p class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-p1"><strong>5) What about somebody who has a solid grasp on the basics and wants to delve deeper? (Any self-study suggestions? Are there any open source projects that could benefit from their help?)</strong></p>
<p>If you want to dive deeper, there are several directions you can go!<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Since <span class="il">Frida</span> is an open-source project, there are many ways to contribute depending on your interests.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>There are also a lot of great tools built with <span class="il">Frida</span>, many of which take contributions.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>For any level of interest, I suggest checking out <span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-s1">https://github.com/dweinstein/awesome-<span class="il">frida</span></span> as a starting point.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>You’ll find <span class="il">blog</span> posts and demos showing some concrete examples of <span class="il">Frida</span>’s functionality, as well as links to some of the projects that use it.</p>
<p>If you want to contribute to <span class="il">Frida</span>, or build more complex tools that leverage it, I’d recommend gaining a greater understanding of how it works.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>One good starting point is “Getting fun with <span class="il">Frida</span>” (<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-s1">https://www.coresecurity.com/system/files/publications/2016/10/Getting%20fun%20with%20Frida-Ekoparty-21-10-2016.pdf</span>), which discusses concepts in Dynamic Binary Instrumentation (DBI) and discusses prior work.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>The 2015 presentation “The Engineering Behind the Reverse Engineering” (slides and video at <span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-s1">https://www.<span class="il">frida</span>.re/docs/presentations/</span>) is even more in-depth, and a good follow-up once you grasp the high-level concepts.</p>
</div>
<h2>Perspective Two: Jay</h2>
<p><strong>1) Hi Jay! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Would you please tell us a little about yourself, and your expertise with <span class="il">Frida</span>?</strong></p>
<p>My name is Jahmel Harris but some people know me as Jay. I&#8217;m a freelance pentester in the UK (digitalinterruption.com) and run Manchester Grey Hats (<a href="https://twitter.com/mcrgreyhats" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">https://twitter.com/mcrgreyhats</a>) &#8211; a group where we put on free workshops, ctfs etc to help teach practical cyber <span class="il">security</span> skills to our members. We live stream so no need to be in the UK to attend! Also, feel free to join our Slack (invite link on Twitter).</p>
<p>I started using Frida when performing mobile application testing and found it worked much better than Xposed which I was using at the time. Although XPosed and Frida allows us to do similar things, Frida allows us to do it in a faster and more iterative way. A simple task could take several hours in Xposed can be done in minutes in Frida. More recently, i&#8217;ve been using Frida in bug bounties as many mobile apps go unlooked at due to some (fairly easy to bypass) client side security controls.</p>
<p><strong>2) Assume we work in infosec but have never used Frida. How would you briefly explain the framework to us? Why is it useful for security professionals? (Assume an audience with solid IT fundamentals)</strong></p>
<p>Frida allows us to inject JavaScript into a running application. Why is this useful? Well, it means we have the ability to change the behaviour of applications at runtime. By changing the behaviour of the application, we can add logging which can help us understand the flow, remove security controls or even dump secrets and keys. I find frida helps take testing one step further, especially where mobile apps are concerned. We can test assumptions easier, and change parts of the code without changing the signature. The other advantage is that as it becomes more difficult to jailbreak some devices, Frida can still allow us to perform a thorough test.</p>
<p><strong>3) What are a couple important things to know about Frida before we start using it?</strong></p>
<p>Frida is a great framework but there are some things I remind people:</p>
<ol>
<li>It is not very mature so you *will* discover bugs. Ole André V. Ravnås (the creator of Frida) is very friendly though and helps where he can so don&#8217;t be afraid to reach out to him.</li>
<li>It&#8217;s not only for mobile application testing. For some reason I tend to only see Frida being used for Android and iOS application testing. It supports Windows and Linux so can be used for instrumenting Desktop applications too!</li>
<li>Frida is bundled with a few tools such as frida-trace. This is where I start when trying to RE an application. Frida-trace will log functions that are called as well as generate the JavaScript handlers. This makes it super easy to start guessing interesting function names and tracing on them. As an example, if we&#8217;re looking at an IRC client, we can put traces on *send* or *irc* and we&#8217;re likely to get something interesting. Using Frida it&#8217;s then easy to start changing parameters to these functions or even change the behaviour of them *all at runtime without restarting the application!*</li>
</ol>
<p><strong>4) What would you tell somebody in infosec who&#8217;s having trouble using Frida? (For example, what niches in security really need to &#8220;get it&#8221;? What other things could they study up on first to grasp it better?)</strong></p>
<p>Frida can really help mobile application testers go beyond the basics of app tests. Frida is also invaluable as it allows us perform a lot of useful tests from non rooted and non jailbroken devices which is something we struggle with with each new release of iOS. It&#8217;s important to understand though that Frida isn&#8217;t an exploitation framework. We still need to know what we&#8217;re looking for in an application or the controls we&#8217;re trying to disable. As an example, when doing a mobile application test, I might discover the application uses Certificate Pinning. To bypass this using Frida I will need to reverse the application, figure out the Certificate Pinning logic before writing a Frida hook to bypass it which of course requires some basic coding knowledge.<br />
<strong><br />
5) What about somebody who has a solid grasp on the basics and wants to delve deeper? (Any self-study suggestions? Are there any open source projects that could benefit from their help?)<br />
</strong><br />
As Frida is a framework and not an application per se, anyone using Frida that wants to help should work on more high level tooling using Frida. For example, more general purpose Certificate Pinning bypassing tools or fuzzing tools. The code for Frida is very well written so it&#8217;s easy to understand how Frida works and to contribute with bug fixes. As you find bugs or missing functionality in Frida, raise bug reports as it&#8217;s likely the same issue will be faced by many people.</p>
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                    [summary] => Foreword (Lesley) One of the hardest things to accept in information security is that we as individuals will simply never know everything there is...
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<h1>Foreword (Lesley)</h1>
<p>One of the hardest things to accept in information security is that we as individuals will simply never know everything there is to know about the field, or all of its many niches. Despite this absolute reality, we still often feel embarrassed to ask basic questions about topics we don&#8217;t understand, due to a misplaced fear of looking unknowledgeable.</p>
<p>The reality is that there are a number of subjects in information security which many people who are otherwise quite competent professionals in the field are confused by. To try to alleviate this problem, I anonymously polled hundreds of infosec students and professionals about what topics they&#8217;re still having trouble wrapping their heads around. A few subjects and concepts rose to the top immediately: <strong>Blockchain</strong>, the <strong>Frida </strong>framework, <strong>DNSSEC</strong>, <strong>ASLR</strong> (and various associated bypasses), and <strong>PKI.</strong></p>
<p>Since information security has many areas of specialty, I&#8217;ve stepped aside today and asked people specifically working in each niche to tackle breaking down these topics. Where possible, I have provided two perspectives from people with different experiences with the subject matter.<strong> Each of these contributors was tremendously generous with his or her time and knowledge. Please visit their social media profiles and personal blogs!</strong></p>
<h1>ASLR (Skip Duckwall and Mohamed Shahat)</h1>
<h2>Perspective One: Skip</h2>
<p><strong><span class="im">1) This is a pretty tough topic, so let&#8217;s start with an easy one. Can you tell us a little about yourself, and your expertise related to <span class="il">ASLR</span> / <span class="il">ASLR</span> bypassing?</span></strong></p>
<p>Yikes, ask the easy ones first, eh?  I&#8217;m a former DOD Red team member (contractor) who did some stuff to some things somewhere at some point in time.  My biggest life achievement is being part of a group which got a multi-billion dollar MS client pissed off enough to call MS to the carpet and eventually MS wrote a whitepaper.  Now I&#8217;m a consultant.  My experiences with <span class="il">ASLR</span>, etc are mostly from a &#8220;I have to explain why these are things to C-level folks and why they should care&#8221; standpoint.</p>
<p><strong>2) <span class="il">ASLR</span> bypasses are common in <span class="il">security</span> news, but a lot of <span class="il">infosec</span> folks don&#8217;t fully understand what <span class="il">ASLR</span> does, and why bypassing it is a goal for attackers. Can you please give us a &#8220;500-words-or-less&#8221; explanation of the concepts? (Assume an audience with solid IT fundamentals)</strong></p>
<p>Caveat:  This is a very technical question and in order to answer it in an easy to understand manner, I have to provide some background and gloss over a lot of very pertinent details.  My goal is to provide a GIST and context, not a dissertation ;-).<br />
Ok, while I can assume people have solid IT fundamentals, I need to define a Computer Science fundamental, namely the concept of a stack.  A stack is a conceptual (or abstract) data structure where the last element in is the first element out (LIFO).  You put stuff into a stack by &#8220;pushing&#8221; it and you pull stuff out by &#8220;popping&#8221; them.  The wikipedia page for a stack (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stack_(abstract_data_type) ) is a good read.<br />
This is relevant because stacks are used extensively as the means for an operating system to handle programs and their associated memory spaces.  Generally, the memory associated with a process has three areas (arranged in a stack), namely the Text area (generally the program&#8217;s machine code), the data area (used for static variables), and the process stack, which is used to handle the flow of execution through the process.  When a process executes and hits a subroutine, the current <span class="il">information</span> for the process (variables, data, and a pointer to where the execution was last at) gets pushed onto the process stack.  This allows the subroutine to execute and do whatever it needs to do, and if further subroutines occur, the same thing happens.  When the subroutine is finished, the stack gets popped and the previous execution flow gets restored.</p>
<p>One of the earliest types of attacks against programming mistakes was called &#8216;stack smashing&#8217; (seminal paper here: http://www-inst.eecs.berkeley.edu/~cs161/fa08/papers/stack_smashing.pdf by Aleph One).  In this kind of attack, the attacker would try to stuff too much <span class="il">information</span> into a buffer (a block of data which sits on the process stack) which would overwrite the stack pointer and force the process to execute attacker-generated code included in the buffer.  Given the generally linear nature of how the stacks were handled, once you found a buffer overflow, exploiting it to make bad stuff happen was fairly straightforward.</p>
<p><span class="il">ASLR</span> (Address Space Layout Randomization) is an attempt to make the class of bugs called buffer overflows much more difficult to exploit.  When a process executes, it is generally given virtual memory space all to itself to work with.  So the idea was, rather than try to have all the process stack be clumped together, what if we just spread it out somewhat randomly throughout the virtual memory space?  This would mean that if somebody did find a buffer overflow, they would not know where the stack pointer was in order to affect the flow of the process and inject their code, raising the bar for attackers. (in theory)</p>
<p>Obviously bypassing <span class="il">ASLR</span> is a goal for attackers because it is a potential gate barring access to code execution <img src="https://s0.wp.com/wp-content/mu-plugins/wpcom-smileys/twemoji/2/72x72/1f609.png" alt="&#x1f609;" class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em;max-height: 1em" /></p>
<p><strong>3) What are two or three essential concepts for us to grasp about <span class="il">ASLR</span> and the various  bypass techniques available?</strong></p>
<p>So when it comes to <span class="il">ASLR</span> bypasses there are really only a couple different categories of methods, brute force or information leakage.</p>
<p>In many cases, <span class="il">ASLR</span> implementations were limited somehow.  For example, maybe there were only 16 bits (65535) of randomness, so if you were trying to exploit a service which would automatically restart if it crashed, you could keep trying until you got lucky.  Many <span class="il">ASLR</span> implementation suffer from some problem or another.</p>
<p>Another common problem with <span class="il">ASLR</span> is that there may be segments of code which DON&#8217;T use <span class="il">ASLR</span> (think external libraries) which are called from code that is using <span class="il">ASLR</span>. So it might be possible to jump into code at a well known location and then leverage that to further exploit.</p>
<p>Information leakage is the final issue that commonly arises.  The idea is that a different vulnerability (format string vulns are the most common) has to be exploited which will provide the attacker with a snapshot of memory, which can be analyzed to find the requisite information to proceed with the attack.</p>
<p><strong>4) What would you tell somebody in infosec who&#8217;s having trouble grasping how ASLR works and how it is bypassed? (For example, what niches in security really need to &#8220;get it&#8221;? What other things could they study up on first to grasp it better?)</strong></p>
<p>Honestly, unless you are an exploit developer, an application developer, or into operating systems memory design, a gist should be all you need to know. If you are a developer, there&#8217;s usually a compiler option somewhere which you&#8217;d need to enable to make sure that your program is covered. It is also worth noting that generally 64-bit programs have better ASLR because they can have more randomness in their address space.</p>
<p><strong>5) What about somebody who has a solid grasp on the basics and wants to delve deeper? (Any self-study suggestions? Are there any open source projects that could benefit from their help?)</strong></p>
<p>This topic rapidly reaches into the computer science scholarly paper area (Googling ASLR bypass pdfs will find you a lot of stuff). Also, look through Blackhat / DEF CON / other security conference archives, as many people will present their research. If you want to delve deeper, look into how the Linux kernel implements it, read through the kernel developer mailing lists, etc&#8230; lots of info available.</p>
<h2>Perspective 2: Mohamed</h2>
<p><strong>1) Thank you for joining us! Would you mind telling us a little about yourself, and your expertise related to ASLR / ASLR bypassing?</strong></p>
<p>Hi Lesley! My name is Mohamed, I&#8217;m a software engineer who has a lot of passion towards security. Some may know me from my blog (abatchy.com) where I write about various security concepts/challenges.</p>
<p>I currently work as an engineer on the Windows Security team where we design/implement security features and do other cool stuff.</p>
<p><strong>2) ASLR bypasses are common in security news, but a lot of infosec folks don&#8217;t fully understand what ASLR does, and why bypassing it is a goal for attackers. Can you please give us a &#8220;500-words-or-less&#8221; explanation of the concepts? (Assume an audience with solid IT fundamentals)</strong></p>
<p>Address space layout randomization (ASLR) is a security mitigation that aims to prevent an attacker from creating a reliable exploit. Its first implementation was over a decade and it became a stable in modern operating systems.</p>
<p>What it does is simple, the address space of a process is randomized on rerun/reboot depending on the implementation, this can be applied to the base address of the executable and libraries it loads as well as other data structures like the stack and the heap among other internal structures as well as the kernel (KASLR).</p>
<p>Executables are expected to be position-independent. In Windows, linking must be done with /DYNAMICBASE flag, while Linux requires -fPIE as a flag for gcc/ld.</p>
<p>How does that help? Well, exploits rely on knowledge about the address space to be able to manipulate the execution flow (I control EIP, where do I go next?) and with this information taken away, attackers can no longer depend on predictable addresses. When combined with other fundamental mitigations like DEP (Data Execution Prevention), exploiting memory corruption bugs becomes much harder.</p>
<p>Before we discuss the common bypassing techniques, it&#8217;s important to stress on that bypassing ASLR doesn&#8217;t directly enable code execution or pose a risk by itself as this is only a part of the exploit chain and you still need to trigger a vulnerability that results in code execution. Yet, finding an ASLR bypass mean that broken exploits can utilize that bypass again.</p>
<p>There are a few ways to bypass ASLR, some of these techniques are less likely to be applicable in modern OS/software than others:</p>
<ol>
<li> Information Disclosure: Most commonly used method to bypass ASLR nowadays, the attacker aims to “trick” the application into leaking an address.<br />
<blockquote>
<p>Example: CVE-2012-0769</p>
</blockquote>
</li>
<li> Abusing non-ASLR modules: The presence of a single non-ASLR module means an attacker has a reliable place to jump to. Nowadays, this is becoming less common.<br />
<blockquote>
<p>Example: CVE-2013-3893, CVE-2013-5057</p>
</blockquote>
</li>
<li> Partial overwrite: Instead of overwriting EIP, overwrite the lower bytes only. This way you don&#8217;t have to deal with the higher bytes affected by ASLR.<br />
<blockquote>
<p>Example: CVE-2007-0038</p>
</blockquote>
</li>
<li>Brute-forcing: Keep trying out different addresses. This assumes that the target won&#8217;t crash, and the virtual memory area is small (ASLR on 64-bit &gt; ASLR on 32-bit).<br />
<blockquote>
<p>Example: CVE-2003-0201</p>
</blockquote>
</li>
<li>Implementation flaws: Weak entropy, unexpected regression, logical mistakes or others. Lots of great research on this topic.<br />
<blockquote>
<p>Example: CVE-2015-1593, offset2lib</p>
</blockquote>
<p>In real world, attackers will need to bypass more than just ASLR.</li>
</ol>
<p><strong>3) What are two or three essential concepts for us to grasp about ASLR and the various bypass techniques available?</strong></p>
<ol>
<li>For ASLR to be efficient, all memory regions within a process (at least the executable ones) must be randomized, otherwise attackers have a reliable location to jump to. It&#8217;s possible that not all objects are randomized with the same entropy (randomization), in a way the object with the lowest entropy is the weakest link.</li>
<li>Bypassing ASLR doesn&#8217;t mean attackers can execute code. You still need an actual vulnerability that allows hijacking the execution flow.</li>
<li>Some bypasses aim to reduce the effective entropy</li>
</ol>
<p><strong>4) What would you tell somebody in infosec who&#8217;s having trouble grasping how ASLR works and how it is bypassed? (For example, what niches in security really need to &#8220;get it&#8221;? What other things could they study up on first to grasp it better?)</strong></p>
<ol>
<li>Understand the memory layout of a process for both Linux/Windows, see how they change on rerun/reboot.</li>
<li>Write a simple C++ program that prints the address of local variables/heap allocations with and without ASLR. Fire up a debugger and check the process layout of various segments.</li>
<li>Research past ASLR vulnerabilities and how they were used to bypass it and recreate them if possible.</li>
</ol>
<p><strong>5) What about somebody who has a solid grasp on the basics and wants to delve deeper? (Any self-study suggestions? Are there any open source projects that could benefit from their help?)</strong></p>
<ol>
<li>Understand the implementation differences for ASLR in Windows and Linux.</li>
<li>Familiarize yourself with other mitigations like DEP, stack cookies (Windows/Linux), AAAS, KSPP (Linux), policy-based mitigations like ACG/CIG (Windows). This list is in no way comprehensive but serves as a good start.</li>
<li>Solve exploitation challenges from CTFs, recreate public exploits that rely on bypassing ASLR.</li>
<li>Check PaX’s ASLR implementations.</li>
</ol>
<p>Recommended reads:</p>
<ol>
<li>Differences Between ASLR on Windows and Linux</li>
<li>On the effectiveness of DEP and ASLR</li>
<li>The info leak era on software exploitation</li>
<li>Exploiting Linux and PaX ASLR’s weaknesses on 32- and 64-bit systems</li>
</ol>
<p>For hands-on experience I recommend the following:</p>
<ol>
<li>RPISEC’s MBE course</li>
<li>https://exploit-exercises.com</li>
<li>CTFs</li>
</ol>
<h1>Blockchain (Tony Arcieri and Jesse Mundis)</h1>
<h2>Perspective One: Tony</h2>
<p><strong>1) Thanks for joining us. Would you mind telling us a little about your background, and your expertise with blockchain technology?</strong></p>
<p>I&#8217;m probably most known in the space for the blog post: &#8220;On the dangers of a <span class="il">blockchain</span> monoculture&#8220;, which covers both my (somewhat dated) views of blockchains and how alternative &#8220;next generation fintech&#8221; systems not based on blockchains might provide better alternatives. I spent the last year working for Chain.com, an enterprise blockchain company targeting cryptographic ledgers-as-a-service, which I recently left to pursue other interests.</p>
<p><strong>2) Would you please give us a 500-words-or-less explanation of what a blockchain is, and why the technology is important to us as security professionals? (Assume an audience with solid IT fundamentals)</strong></p>
<p>&#8220;Blockchain&#8221; is a buzzword which loosely refers to the immutable, append-only log of transactions used by Bitcoin, collectively agreed upon in a distributed manner using a novel consensus algorithm typically referred to as &#8220;Nakamoto consensus&#8221;. Other systems have adopted some of the ideas from Bitcoin, often changing them radically, but still referring to their design as a &#8220;blockchain&#8221;, furthering a lack of clarity around what the word actually refers to.</p>
<p>A &#8220;blockchain&#8221; is more or less analogous to a Merkle Tree with some questionable tweaks by Satoshi[2], which authenticates a batch of transactions which consist of input and output cryptographic authorization programs that lock/unlock stored values/assets using digital signature keys.</p>
<p>Bitcoin in particular uses a proof-of-work function to implement a sort of by-lottery distributed leader election algorithm. Being a buzzword, it&#8217;s unclear whether the use of a proof-of-work function is a requirement of a blockchain (the Bitcoin paper refers to the idea of a blockchain as a &#8220;proof-of-work chain&#8221;, for example), but in colloquial usage several other systems claiming to be based on a &#8220;blockchain&#8221; have adopted alternative authorization mechanisms, namely ones based around digital signatures rather than a proof-of-work function.</p>
<p>As a bit of trivia: the term &#8220;blockchain&#8221; does not appear in the original Bitcoin whitepaper. It appears to be a term originally used by Hal Finney prior to Bitcoin which Satoshi adopted from Hal.</p>
<p>[2]:<em> It really appears like Satoshi didn&#8217;t understand Merkle Trees very well: </em><em>https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin/blob/master/src/consensus/merkle.cpp#L9</em></p>
<p><strong>3) What are a couple really critical concepts we should understand with regards to how blockchain technology functions?</strong></p>
<p>Perhaps the most notable aspect of Bitcoin&#8217;s blockchain is its use of authorization programs as part of the &#8220;Nakamoto consensus&#8221; process: every transaction in Bitcoin involves two programs: an input program which has locked funds which will only unlock them if the authorization program&#8217;s requirements are met, and an output program which specifies how funds should be locked after being unlocked. Every validating node in the system executes every program to determine whether or not actions affecting the global state of the system are authorized.</p>
<p>This idea has been referred to as &#8220;smart contracts&#8221;, which get comparatively little attention with Bitcoin (versus, say, Ethereum) due to its restrictive nature of its scripting language, but every Bitcoin transaction involves unlocking and re-locking of stored value using authorization programs. In other words, &#8220;smart contracts&#8221; aren&#8217;t optional but instead the core mechanism by which the system transfers value. If there is one thing I think is truly notable about Bitcoin, it&#8217;s that it was the first wide-scale deployment of a system based on distributed consensus by authorization programs. I would refer to this idea more generally as &#8220;distributed authorization programs&#8221;.</p>
<p>Bitcoin in particular uses something called the &#8220;unspent transaction output&#8221; (UTXO) model. In this model, the system tracks a set of unspent values which have been locked by authorization programs/&#8221;smart contracts&#8221;. UTXOs once created are immutable and can only move from an unspent to spent state, at which point they are removed from the set. This makes the Bitcoin blockchain a sort of immutable functional data structure, which is a clean and reliable programming model.</p>
<p>Ethereum has experimented in abandoning this nice clean side effect-free programming model for one which is mutable and stateful. This has enabled much more expressive smart contracts, but generally ended in disaster as far as mutability/side effects allowing for new classes of program bugs, to the tune of the Ethereum system losing the equivalent of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of value.</p>
<p><strong>4) What would you tell somebody in infosec who&#8217;s struggling to conceptualize how a blockchain works? (For example, does everybody in the field really need to &#8220;get it&#8221;? Why or why not? What other things could they study up on to grasp it better?)</strong></p>
<p>There are other systems which are a bit more straightforward which share some of the same design goals as Bitcoin, but with a much narrower focus, a more well-defined threat model, and both a cleaner and more rigorous cryptographic design. These are so-called &#8220;transparency log&#8221; systems originally developed at Google, namely Certificate Transparency (CT), General Transparency (GT) a.k.a. Trillian, Key Transparency (KT), and Binary Transparency. These systems all maintain a &#8220;blockchain&#8221;-like append-only cryptographically authenticated log, but one whose structure is a pure Merkle Tree free of the wacky gizmos and doodads that Satoshi tried to add. I personally find these systems much easier to understand and consider their cryptographic design far superior to and far more elegant than what has been used in any extant &#8220;blockchain&#8221;-based system, to the point I would recommend anyone who is interested in blockchains study them first and use them as the basis of their cryptographic designs.</p>
<div>Links to <span class="il">information</span> about the design of the &#8220;transparency log&#8221; systems I just mentioned:</div>
<div></div>
<div>Certificate Transparency: https://www.certificate-transparency.org/log-proofs-work</div>
<div>General Transparency (a.k.a. Trillian): https://github.com/google/trillian/blob/master/docs/VerifiableDataStructures.pdf</div>
<div>Key Transparency: <a href="https://github.com/google/keytransparency/blob/master/docs/overview.md" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">https://github.com/google/keytransparency/blob/master/docs/overview.md<br />
</a></div>
<p><strong>5) What about somebody who has a solid grasp on the basics and wants to delve deeper? (Any self-study suggestions? Are there any open source projects that could benefit from their help?)</strong></p>
<div class="gmail_extra">Here are some links to specific bits and pieces of Bitcoin I think are worth studying:</div>
<div class="gmail_extra"></div>
<div class="gmail_extra">&#8211; <span class="il">Blockchain</span> Structure: http://chimera.labs.oreilly.com/books/1234000001802/ch07.html</div>
<div class="gmail_extra">
<div>&#8211; Bitcoin Transactions (a.k.a. UTXO model): http://chimera.labs.oreilly.com/books/1234000001802/ch05.html</div>
<div>
<div>&#8211; Bitcoin Script: https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Script</div>
</div>
<div class="yj6qo ajU">
<div id=":14v" class="ajR" role="button"><img class="ajT" src="https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gif" /></div>
</div>
</div>
<h2>Perspective Two: Jesse</h2>
<p><strong>1) Let&#8217;s start with the easy one. Would you please tell us a little about your background, and your expertise with blockchain technology?</strong></p>
<p>I&#8217;m a C / Unix Senior Software Developer with a CISSP, who has worked with encryption and payment technologies throughout my career. I have a recently published paper on the possible implications of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) on blockchain-based businesses, and have a pending patent application involving cryptographic keying material and cryptocurrencies. As an Info Sec professional, I enjoy the chance to share some knowledge with folks who wish to learn more about the field.</p>
<p><strong>2) Would you please give us a 500-words-or-less explanation of what a blockchain is, and why the technology is important to us as security professionals? (Assume an audience with solid IT fundamentals)</strong></p>
<p>A blockchain is fundamentally a ledger of transactions, with each &#8220;block&#8221; or set of transactions hashed in such a way as to link it to the previous block, forming a &#8220;chain.&#8221; There are many blockchains, with varying implementations and design goals, but at their core, they all provide for continuity and integrity of an ever-growing ledger of transactions. They provide an unalterable(*) record of events, in a distributed fashion, verifiable by any participant, and can be an important tool for providing &#8220;Integrity&#8221; in the CIA triad. The Bitcoin blockchain is the most famous, providing a basis for the BTC currency, so I will use it as a blockchain example. However, please understand that blockchain transactions don&#8217;t have to be financial in nature &#8211; they could be hashes of timestamped signed documents, or just about anything else you might want to keep an unalterable, witnessed record of.</p>
<p><em>(*) &#8220;unalterable&#8221; &#8211; In this case means that the network integrity as a whole is only secured by substantial ongoing compute power in a proof-of-work blockchain. Without that, you lose the core assurance the technology is trying to provide.</em></p>
<p>In the proof-of-work bitcoin blockchain, transactions are effectively of the form &#8220;At time Z, wallet number X paid wallet number Y the sum of N bitcoins.&#8221; Imagine many of these messages being dumped on a common message bus worldwide. &#8220;Miners&#8221; (who should more descriptively be thought of as &#8220;notaries&#8221;) collect up a &#8220;block&#8221; of these transactions, and along with the digital hash of the previous block in the chain, begin searching for a nonce value, which when added to their block, will make the hash of their block have a required number of leading zeros to be considered successful. The winning miner announces this block with their nonce to the world. All other miners confirm the block is valid, throw their in-progress block away, and begin working on a new block, which must now contain the winning block&#8217;s hash, thus adding an other link to the chain.</p>
<p>Checking the hash of a block is trivial, but finding the right nonce to create a valid hash takes time inversely proportional to the miner&#8217;s computing power. Once the chain has a sufficiently large number of blocks, each chaining back to the previous block, it becomes impractical to refute, change, or delete any records deep enough in the chain, without re-doing all the computational work which follows. An attacker would require a substantial percentage of the entire computational capacity of the network to do this.</p>
<p>In summary, a &#8220;block&#8221; is a set or group of transactions or entries plus a nonce, and the &#8220;chain&#8221; is formed by including the hash of the previous block as part of the next block. The weight of all future computations to find nonces for future blocks collectively secure the integrity of all the previous records in the chain.</p>
<p><strong>3) What are a couple really critical concepts we should understand with regards to how blockchain technology functions?</strong></p>
<p>&#8220;Blockchain&#8221; is not magical security pixie dust, and many new startup businesses pitching blockchain haven&#8217;t thought it through. As mentioned above, proof-of-work blockchains need a lot of compute power to secure them. Bitcoin is a fascinating social hack, in that by making the transactions about a new currency, the algorithm was designed to incentivize participants to donate compute power to secure the network in return for being paid fees in the new currency. On the other hand, private blockchains, kept within a single company may be no more secure against tampering than other existing record keeping mechanisms. That is not to say blockchains are useless outside of cryptocurrencies. The blockchain is applicable to &#8220;The Byzantine Generals Problem&#8221; [1] in that it can create a distributed, trusted, ledger of agreement, between parties who don&#8217;t necessarily trust each other. I fully expect the basics of blockchain technology to soon be taught in CS classes, right alongside data structures and algorithms.</p>
<p>[1] https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/publication/byzantine-generals-problem/</p>
<p><strong>4) What would you tell somebody in infosec who&#8217;s struggling to conceptualize how a blockchain works? (For example, does everybody in the field really need to &#8220;get it&#8221;? Why or why not? What other things could they study up on to grasp it better?)</strong></p>
<p>Keep it simple. A block is just a set of entries, and the next block is chained back to the previous block via inclusion of the previous block&#8217;s hash. The hash on each individual block is the integrity check for that block, and by including it in the next block, you get an inheritance of integrity. A change in any earlier block would be detected by the mismatched hash, and replacing it with a new hash would invalidate all the later blocks. Hashing is computationally easy, but finding a new nonce to make the altered hash valid in a proof-of-work scheme requires redoing all the work for all the blocks after the change. That&#8217;s really all you need to keep in mind.</p>
<p>Everyone in the security field does not need to understand blockchain to any deep level. You should have a basic understanding, like I&#8217;ve sketched out above, to understand if blockchain makes sense for your given use case. Again, using the more famous Bitcoin blockchain as an example, I&#8217;d strongly recommend everyone read the original 2008 Satoshi white paper initially describing Bitcoin[2]. It&#8217;s only eight pages, light on math, and very readable. It encapsulates many of the ideas all blockchains share, but I have to say again that while Bitcoin is implemented on the original blockchain, it is far from the only way to &#8220;do blockchains&#8221; today.</p>
<p>[2] https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf</p>
<p><strong>5) What about somebody who has a solid grasp on the basics and wants to delve deeper? (Any self-study suggestions? Are there any open source projects that could benefit from their help?)</strong></p>
<p>Blockchain startups, projects, and new cryptocurrencies are all hot. Ethereum is getting a lot of press due to its &#8220;smart contracts&#8221; which provide compute actions executed on their blockchain. There are over ten thousand hits on github for &#8220;blockchain&#8221; right now, and over one hundred and fifty for books and videos at Safari Online. The challenge really is to narrow down your interest. What do you want to do with blockchain technology? That should guide your next steps. Just to throw out some ideas, how about finding a more power efficient way to do proof-of-work? Currently the Bitcoin network as a whole is estimated to be running at about 12 petaHashes per second, and consuming 30 TerraWatt-Hours per year. This is environmentally unsustainable. Or, examine some of the proof-of-stake alt-coins. Figure out what kinds of problems can we solve with this nifty, distributed, trust-out-of-trustlessness tool.</p>
<p>In my opinion, blockchain technologies really are a tool searching for the right problem. An alt-currency was an interesting first experiment, which may or may not stand the test of time. Smart contracts don&#8217;t seem ready for production business use to me just yet, but what do I know &#8211; Ethereum has a 45 billion dollar market cap, second only to Bitcoin right now. I personally don&#8217;t see how inventory tracking within an enterprise is really done better with a private blockchain than traditional methods, but I do see how one might be of use for recording land title deed transfers in a government setting. All of these, and many more activities are having blockchain technologies slapped on to them, to see what works. My advice is to find something which excites you, and try it.</p>
<p>The distributed, immutable ledger a blockchain provides feels like it is an important new thing to me for our industry. Maybe one of you will figure out what it&#8217;s really good for.</p>
<h1>DNSSEC (Paul Ebersman)</h1>
<p><strong>1) Nice to meet you, Paul. Could you please tell us a little </strong><strong>about yourself, and a bit about your work with DNSSEC?</strong></p>
<p>I&#8217;ve been supporting internet connected servers since 1984, large scale DNS since 1990. I&#8217;ve been involved with the IETF development of DNS/DNSSEC standards and the DNS-OARC organization. For 3+ years, I was the DNS/DNSSEC SME for Comcast, one of the largest users of DNSSEC signing and validation.</p>
<p><strong>2) Would you please give us a brief explanation of what DNSSEC is, and why it&#8217;s important?</strong></p>
<p>The DNS is used to convert human friendly strings, like http://www.example.com into the IP address or other information a computer or phone needs to connect a user to the desired service.</p>
<p>But if a malicious person can forge the DNS answer your device gets and give you the IP address of a &#8220;bad&#8221; machine instead of the server you think you&#8217;re connecting to, they can steal login information, infect your device with malware, etc.</p>
<p>DNSSEC is a technology that lets the owner of a domain, such as example.com, put cryptographic signatures on DNS records. If the user then uses a DNS resolver that does DNSSEC validation, the resolver can verify that the DNS answer it passes to the end user really is exactly what the domain owner signed, i.e. that the IP address for http://www.example.com is the IP address the example.com owner wanted you to connect to.</p>
<p>That validation means that the user will know that this answer is correct, or that someone has modified the answer and that it shouldn&#8217;t be trusted.</p>
<p><strong>3) What are a couple really critical concepts we should understand with regards to how DNSSEC functions?</strong></p>
<p>DNSSEC means that a 3rd party can&#8217;t modify DNS answers without it being detected.</p>
<p>However, this protection is only in place if the domain owner &#8220;signs&#8221; the zone data and if the user is using a DNS resolver that is doing DNSSSEC validation.</p>
<p><strong>4) What would you tell somebody in infosec who&#8217;s struggling to conceptualize how DNSSEC works?</strong></p>
<p>DNSSEC is end to end data integrity only. It does raise the bar on how hard it is to hijack the DNS zone, modify data in that zone or modify the answer in transit.</p>
<p>But it just means you know you got whatever the zone owner put into the zone and signed. There are some caveats:</p>
<p>&#8211; It does not mean that the data is &#8220;safe&#8221;, just unmodified in transit.<br />
&#8211; This is data integrity, not encryption. Anyone in the data path can<br />
see both the DNS query and response, who asked and who answered.<br />
&#8211; It doesn&#8217;t guarantee delivery of the answer. If the zone data is DNSSEC signed and the user uses a DNSSEC validating resolver and the data doesn&#8217;t validate,the user gets no answer to the DNS query at all, making this a potential denial of service attack.</p>
<p>Because it does work for end to end data integrity, DNSSEC is being used to distribute certificates suitable for email/web (DANE) and to hold public keys for various PKI (PGP keys). Use of DNSSEC along with TLS/HTTPS greatly increases the security and privacy of internet use, since you don&#8217;t connect to a server unless DNSSEC validation for your answer succeeds.</p>
<p><strong>5) What about somebody who has a solid grasp on the basics and wants to delve deeper?</strong></p>
<p>Start with the documentation for your DNS authoritative server for information on signing your zones. Similarly, read the documentation for your recursive resolver and enable DNSSEC validation on your recursive resolver (or use a public validating resolver, such as 8.8.8.8 or 9.9.9.9).</p>
<p>Here are some good online resources:</p>
<p>For debugging DNSSEC problems or seeing if a zone is correctly signed: https:/www.dnsviz.com</p>
<p>For articles on DNSSEC: https://www.internetsociety.org/deploy360/dnssec/</p>
<h1>PKI (Tarah M. Wheeler and Mohammed Aldoub)</h1>
<h2>Perspective One: Tarah</h2>
<p><em>(Tarah Wheeler, principal security researcher at Red Queen Technologies, New America Cybersecurity Policy Fellow, author Women In Tech. Find her at <a href="https://twitter.com/tarah">@tarah</a> on Twitter.)</em></p>
<p><strong>1) Hi, Tarah! Why don&#8217;t we start off with you telling us a little about your background, and your expertise with PKI.</strong></p>
<p>My tech journey started in academia, where I spent my time writing math in Java. As I transitioned more and more to tech, I ended up as the de facto PKI manager for several projects. I handled certificate management while I was at Microsoft Game Studios working on Lips for Xbox and Halo for Xbox, and debugged the cert management process internally for two teams I worked on. On my own projects and for two startups, I used a 2009 Thawte initiative that provided certificates free to open source projects, and then rolled my own local CA out of that experience. I managed certs from Entrust for one startup. I handled part of certificate management at Silent Circle, the company founded by Phil Zimmermann and Jon Callas, the creators of PGP. I was Principal Security Advocate at Symantec, and Senior Director of Engineering in Website Security—the certificate authority that owns familiar words like VeriSign, Thawte, GeoTrust, and others. I was one of the Symantec representatives to the CA/B (Certification Authority/Browser) Forum, the international body that hosts fora on standards for  certificates, adjudicates reliability/trustworthiness of certificate authorities, and provides a discussion ground for the appropriate issuance and implementation of certificates in browsers. Now, I use LetsEncrypt and Comodo certs for two WordPress servers. I have a varied and colorful, and fortunately broad experience with cert management, and it helped me get a perspective on the field and on good vs. bad policy.</p>
<p><strong>2) Would you please give your best, &#8220;500 words or less&#8221; explanation of what PKIs are and what they&#8217;re used for today (assume an audience with solid IT fundamentals)?</strong></p>
<p>PKI or public key infrastructure is about how two entities learn to trust each other in order to exchange messages securely. You may already know that Kerberos and the KDC (Key Distribution Center) work on a shared-secrets principle, where users can go to a central authority and get authorization to communicate and act in a given network. PKI is a more complex system that understands lots of different networks which may or may not share a common trust authority. In PKI, you’re negotiating trust with a root which then tells you all the other entities that you can trust by default. The central idea of public key infrastructure is that some keys you already trust can delegate their trust (and hence yours) to other keys you don’t yet know. Think of it as a very warm introduction by a friend to someone you don’t yet know!</p>
<p>There are five parts of certificate or web PKI.</p>
<ol>
<li><b>Certificate authorities</b>, the granting bodies for public/private keys, are in practice a form of verification to grease those wheels when there’s no other method of demonstrating that you are who you say you are…a function of identity. Yeah, I know I said that two entities can trust each other without a common authority, but humans aren’t good at that kind of trust without someone vouching for them. So, we have CAs.</li>
<li><b>Registration authorities</b> have what is essentially a license to issue certificates based on being trusted by the CA, and dependent upon their ability to validate organizational identity in a trustworthy way. Certificate authorities may perform their own registration, or they might outsource it. CAs issue certificates, and RAs verify the information provided in those certificates.</li>
<li><b>Certificate databases</b> store requests for certificates as opposed to the certificates themselves.</li>
<li><b>Certificate stores</b> hold the actual certificates. I wasn’t in charge of naming these bloody things or I’d have switched this one with certificate databases because it’s not intuitive.</li>
<li><b>Key archival servers</b> are a possible backup to the certificate database in case of some kind of disaster. This is optional and not used by all CAs.</li>
</ol>
<p>Keys work like this: a pair of keys is generated from some kind of cryptographic algorithm. One common algorithm is the RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman) algorithm, and ECDSA (Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm) is coming into more common use. Think of those as wildly complicated algebraic equations that spit out an ‘x’ string and a ‘y’ string at the end that are interrelated. You can give the ‘x’ to anyone anywhere, and they can encrypt any message, ‘m’ with that x. Now, while they know the original message, <i>only you can unencrypt the message</i> using your ‘y’ key. That’s why you can send the ‘x’ key to anyone who wants to talk to you, but you should protect the secrecy of your ‘y’ key with your teeth and nails.</p>
<p>The two major uses for PKI are for email and web traffic. On a very high level, remember that traffic over the Internet is just a series of packets—little chunks of bits and bytes. While we think of email messages and web requests as philosophically distinct, at the heart, they’re just packets with different port addresses. We define the difference between messages and web requests arbitrarily, but the bits and bytes are transmitted in an identical fashion. So, encrypting those packets is conceptually the same in PKI as well.</p>
<p>If you want to secure email back and forth between two people, the two most common forms of PKI are PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) and S/MIME (Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions). PGP is the first commonly used form of email encryption. Created by Phil Zimmermann and Jon Callas in the early 1990s, PGP is notoriously both secure and difficult to configure for actual human usage, but remains the standard for hyper-secure communication such as with journalists or in government usage. S/MIME is the outsourced version of PKI that your email provider almost certainly uses (once they’ve machine-read your email for whatever commercial/advertising purposes they have) to transmit your email to another person over open Internet traffic. While S/MIME is something most users don’t have to think about, you’ll want to think about whether you trust both your email provider and the provider of the person you’re sending your email to.</p>
<p>The other major use for PKI is a web server authenticating and encrypting communications back and forth between a client—an SSL/TLS certificate that’s installed and working when you see “https” instead of “http” at the beginning of a URL. Most of the time, when we’re talking about PKI in a policy sense or in industry, this is what we mean. Certificate authorities such as DigiCert, Comodo, LetsEncrypt, and others will create those paired keys for websites to use to both verify that they are who they say they are, and to encrypt traffic between a client who’s then been assured that they’re talking to the correct web server and not a visually similar fake site created by an attacker.</p>
<p>This is the major way that we who create the Internet protect people’s personal information in transit from a client to a server.</p>
<p><i>Quick tangent: I’m casually using the terms “identification” and “authentication,” and to make sure we’re on the same page: identification is making sure someone is who they say they are. Authentication is making sure they’re allowed to do what they say they’re allowed to do. If I’m a night-time security guard, I can demand ID and verify the identity of anybody with their driver’s license, but that doesn’t tell me if they’re allowed to be in the building they’re </i><i>in. The most famous example in literature of authentication without identification is the carte blanche letter Cardinal de Richelieu wrote for Madame de Winter in “The Three Musketeers,” saying that “By </i><i>My Hand</i><i>, and for the good of the State, the </i><i>bearer has done</i><i> what </i><i>has</i><i> been </i><i>done</i><i>.” Notably, D’Artagnan got away with literal murder by being authenticated without proof of identification when he present</i><i>ed this letter to Louis XIII at the end of the novel. Also: yes, this is a spoiler, but Alexandre Dumas wrote it in 1844. You’ve had 174 years to read it, so I’m calling it fair game. </i></p>
<p>There are a few other uses for PKI, including encrypting documents in XML and some Internet Of Things applications (but far, far fewer IoT products are using PKI well than should be, if I can mount my saponified standing cube for a brief moment).</p>
<p>Why do we use PKI and why do information security experts continue to push people and businesses to use encryption everywhere? It’s because encryption is the key (pun absolutely intended) to increasing the expense in terms of time for people who have no business watching your traffic to watch your traffic. Simple tools like Wireshark can sniff and read your mail and web traffic in open wireless access points without it.</p>
<p><strong>3) What are a couple really critical concepts we as infosec people should understand with regards to how a modern PKI functions?</strong></p>
<p>The difference between identity and security/encryption. We as security people understand the difference, but most of the time, the way we explain it to people is to say “are you at PayPal? See the big green bar? That’s how you know you’re at PayPal” as opposed to “whatever the site is that you’re at, your comms are encrypted on the way to them and back.</p>
<p>There’s a bit of a polite war on between people who think that CAs should help to verify identity and those who think it is solely a function of encryption/security. Extended validation (“EV certs”) certificates show up as those green bars in many desktop browsers, and are often used to show that a company is who they say they are, not just whether your traffic back and forth is safe.</p>
<p>Whether they *should* be used to identify websites and companies is a topic still up for debate and there are excellent arguments on both sides. An extended validation certificate can prove there’s a real company registered with the correct company name to own that site, but in rare cases, it may still not be the company you’re looking for. However, in practice and especially for nontechnical people, identifying the site is still a step up from being phished and is often the shortcut explanation we give our families at holidays when asked how to avoid bad links and giving out credit card info to the wrong site.</p>
<p><strong>4) What would you tell somebody in infosec who&#8217;s struggling to conceptualize how PKI works? (For example, does everybody in the field really need to &#8220;get it&#8221;? Why or why not? What other things could they study up on to grasp it better?)</strong></p>
<p>PKI has become an appliance with service providers and a functional oligopoly of certificate authorities that play well with the major browsers. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s simply how this technology evolved into its current form of staid usefulness and occasional security hiccups. In reality, most people would do better knowing how best to implement PKI, since vulnerabilities are in general about the endpoints of encryption, not in the encryption itself. For instance: don’t leave <em>777</em> perms on the directory with your private keys. If your security is compromised, it’s likely not because someone cracked your key encryption—they just snagged the files from a directory they shouldn’t have been allowed in. Most PKI security issues are actually sysadmin issues. A new 384-bit ECDSA key isn’t going to be cracked by the NSA brute forcing it. It’ll be stolen from a thumb drive at a coffee shop. PKI security is the same as all other kinds of security; if you don’t track your assets and keep them updated, you’ve got Schroedinger’s Vulnerability on your hands.</p>
<p>PKI isn’t the lowest-hanging fruit on the security tree, but having gaping network/system security holes is like leaving a convenient orchard ladder lying about.</p>
<p><strong>5) What about somebody who has a solid grasp on the basics and wants to delve deeper? (Any self-study suggestions? Are there any open source projects that could benefit from their help?)</strong></p>
<p>Roll your own certs and create your own CA. Do it for the practice. I was on Ubuntu years ago when I was rolling my own, and I used the excellent help docs. One best security practice is to regularly generate and use new keys, instead of keeping the same key for years and years, for the same reasons that changing your password regularly for high-security sites is a good idea—and that’s true whether you’re creating your own certs and local CA or if you’re simply purchasing a certificate from a CA. As with so much else, rolling your own crypto means that YMMV, so if you’re thinking of doing so formally and for a company or project that holds critical or personal information, get a pro to assess it. Think of this like a hobbyist building cars or airplanes at home. Most may be fine with riding in their own homebrewed contraptions, but wouldn’t put a child in it. If you don’t have the time to be a PKI professional, don’t keep other people’s data safe with your home-brewed certificate authority.</p>
<p>Most of the time, security issues aren’t with the encryption itself, but with how it’s been implemented and what happens on the endpoints—not with the math, but with the people. Focus on keeping your keys safe, your networks segmented, and your passwords unique, and you’ll be ok!</p>
<p><em>*I would like to thank <a href="https://twitter.com/sleevi_">Ryan Sleevi</a> for feedback, and especially for providing the Kerberos/PKI analogy for comparison. All errors are mine.</em></p>
<h2>Perspective Two: Mohammed</h2>
<p><strong>1) Thank you sharing your knowledge! When you reached out to me, you noted you had quite a unique perspective on PKI. Would you mind telling us a little about your background, and your expertise on the subject?</strong></p>
<p>In my first information security job in the government of Kuwait, we had the opportunity to work on the country&#8217;s national PKI and Authentication project in its infancy, basically from the start, and together in a small team (5 at the time) we set out on a journey of ultra-accelerated and solid education, training and development for the country&#8217;s custom in-house solutions. Deciding that development of internal capability is far more useful, compliant with national security, and of course more fun, we began to develop our own tools and libraries for PKI, authentication, smartcards, and related technology. We produced our first version deployed to the public in 2010, much sooner than most (if not all) countries in the region, so it was for us a &#8220;throw them in the sea to learn swimming&#8221; type of experience. Developing certificate pinning in 2010 in C++ is not fun, but if there is one thing I learned, it&#8217;s this: chase the cutting edge, challenge yourself, and don&#8217;t belittle yourself or your background.</p>
<p><strong>2) Would you please give your best, &#8220;500 words or less&#8221; explanation of what PKIs are and what they&#8217;re used for today (assume an audience with solid IT fundamentals)?</strong></p>
<p>PKI (Public Key Infrastructure – ignore the name, it&#8217;s counterintuitive) is basically the set of technologies and standards/procedures that help you manage and utilize real-world cryptography.</p>
<p>PKI basically is a (major) field of applied cryptography.</p>
<p>If you ever took a cryptography course, while not being a total math nerd, and found out there&#8217;s lots of theory and math gibberish, then I can totally understand and sympathize. I personally believe math is one of the worst ways to get introduced to cryptography (just like grammar is a really bad way to start learning a new language). Cryptography should first be taught in an applied crypto fashion, then as one understands the main concepts and fundamentals, math can be slowly introduced when needed (You probably don&#8217;t need to understand Chinese Remainder Theorem to be able to use RSA!).</p>
<p>Ever visited an HTTPS website and wondered how you connected securely without having any shared keys to that website? That&#8217;s because of PKI.</p>
<p>Without asymmetric encryption, it would be impossible to create global-scale encrypted communication standards like SSL without presharing your keys with everyone in the world, and without PKI, managing global-scale asymmetric encryption deployments would be impossible at both the technical and management level.</p>
<p>So where is PKI in our world? Everywhere!</p>
<p>If you connected to HTTPS websites: PKI</p>
<p>Used Windows Update: PKI</p>
<p>Ran an application from a verified publisher: PKI</p>
<p>Email security? PKI</p>
<p>Connected through RDP or SSH? PKI</p>
<p>PKI encompasses technologies related to digital certificates, keys, encryption, signing, verification and procedures related to enrollment, registration, validation and other requirements that these technologies depend on.</p>
<p>Think of Let&#8217;s Encrypt. It&#8217;s now a Certificate Authority (entity that gives you certificates to put on your site and enable https/ssl/tls). To give you a certificate, they have certain procedures to check your identity and right to have a certificate issued to your domain name. This way anybody in the world can securely connect to your website without having to trust you personally through this delegated chain of trust.</p>
<p>For Let&#8217;s Encrypt to be trusted globally, proper application of PKI must be done, and must be verified by 3rd parties. If this trust is violated or abused through improper practices, compromise or negligence, you lose total or partial trust globally. DigitNotar went out of business after state actors compromised its CA and issued fake certificates to global websites, allowing them to have semi-automatic exploitation of wide scale communications. Symantec used improper certificate issuance practices and is now scheduled for full distrust in browser on September 2018 (They have already sold their PKI business to DigiCert).</p>
<p>The same idea applies to almost every popular software we run: It&#8217;s signed by trusted publishers to verify ownership. Software updates are, too.</p>
<p>Without PKI, you can&#8217;t boot your device with even a hint of security.</p>
<p>Fun exercise: Go check your device&#8217;s list of trusted Root Certificate authorities (Root CA: All powerful entities having -at least theoretical- power to compromise most of your communications and systems if their power is abused and targeted against you). You&#8217;d be surprised to find entries for so many foreign government CAs (sometimes even China) already trusted by your device!</p>
<p><strong>3) What are a couple really critical concepts we as infosec people should understand with regards to how a modern PKI functions?</strong></p>
<p>There are many concepts to understand in PKI, but I&#8217;ll list the ones I think are most important based on the mistakes I&#8217;ve seen in the wild:</p>
<p>&#8211; Learn the importance of securing and non-sharing of private keys (real world blunders: Superfish adware, VMWare VDP and Rapid7 Nexpose appliances ) https://blog.rapid7.com/2017/05/17/rapid7-nexpose-virtual-appliance-duplicate-ssh-host-key-cve-2017-5242/</p>
<p>&#8211; Know the secure and insecure protocol/algorithm configurations (real world blunders: Rapid7 CVE-2017-5243 SSH weak configs, Flame malware, FREAK vulnerability (using weak RSA_EXPORT configs) – Even NSA.GOV website was vulnerable! https://blog.cryptographyengineering.com/2015/03/03/attack-of-week-freak-or-factoring-nsa</p>
<p>&#8211; Don’t charge the bull; dance around it. Most PKI implementations can be attacked/bypassed not by trying to break the math involved but by abusing wrongly put trust, wide-open policies, bad management and wrong assumptions. Real world blunder: GoDaddy issued wrong certificates because they implemented a bad challenge-response method that was bypassed by 404 pages that reflected the requsted URL – so GoDaddy tool thought the server error was a valid response to their random code challenge: https://www.infoworld.com/article/3157535/security/godaddy-revokes-nearly-9000-ssl-certificates-issued-without-proper-validation.html</p>
<p><strong>4) What would you tell somebody in infosec who&#8217;s struggling to conceptualize how PKI works? (For example, does everybody in the field really need to &#8220;get it&#8221;? Why or why not? What other things could they study up on to grasp it better?)</strong></p>
<p>Learn it in an applied fashion. No math. Take a look at your own setup. Check out the Digital Signature tab in any signed EXE that you have on your system. Open wireshark and checkout the SSL handshake, or wait till an OCSP request/response is made and check how it looks in wireshark. Get familiar a bit with PKI tools such as openssl.<br />
Or write a small program that connects over SSL to some SSL port, then write a small program that listens on an SSL interface. Use ready-made libraries at first.</p>
<p><strong>5) What about somebody who has a solid grasp on the basics and wants to delve deeper? (Any self-study suggestions? Are there any open source projects that could benefit from their help?)</strong></p>
<p>Check out the following topics/ideas:</p>
<p>&#8211; Certificate Transparency.</p>
<p>&#8211; OCSP stapling.</p>
<p>&#8211; Code signing.</p>
<p>&#8211; Checkout The Update Framework (https://theupdateframework.github.io/ ), to learn how to implement secure software updates.</p>
<p>&#8211; Implementing client certificates for server-to-server communications.</p>
<p>&#8211; Hardware security modules (HSMs). YubiHSM is an affordable such piece of hardware.</p>
<p>I believe understanding PKI is growing more important as we start automating more and more of our tools and workflows, and that using tools (such as certbot) is not a valid excuse to not learn the fundamentals.</p>
<h1>Frida (Dawn Isabel and Jahmel [Jay] Harris)</h1>
<h2>Perspective One: Dawn</h2>
<div><strong>1) Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Dawn. Would you mind telling us a little about yourself, and your expertise with <span class="il">Frida</span>?</strong></div>
<div></div>
<div>
<p class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-p1">Thanks for the opportunity!<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>I’ve been in <span class="il">information</span> <span class="il">security</span> for around 12 years, and before that worked as a web application developer.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>I currently work as a consultant, primarily testing web and mobile application <span class="il">security</span>.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>I’ve been using <span class="il">Frida</span> for a little over a year, and most of my experience with it is on mobile platforms.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>I regularly write scripts for <span class="il">Frida</span> to automate testing tasks and to teach others about iOS internals.</p>
<p class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-p1"><strong>2) Assume we work in <span class="il">infosec</span>, but have never used <span class="il">Frida</span>. How would you briefly explain the framework to us? Why is it useful for <span class="il">security</span> professionals? (Assume an audience with solid IT fundamentals)</strong></p>
<p class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-p1">At a high level, <span class="il">Frida</span> is a framework that enables you to inject your own code (JavaScript) into an application at runtime.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>One of the simplest use cases for this is tracing or debugging &#8211; if you’ve ever sprinkled “print” statements in a program to debug it, you’ll immediately appreciate using <span class="il">Frida</span> to inject logging into an application to see when and how functions and methods are called!<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span><span class="il">Security</span> professionals will also use <span class="il">Frida</span> to bypass <span class="il">security</span> controls in an application &#8211; for instance, to make an iOS application think that a device is not jailbroken, or to force an application to accept an invalid SSL certificate.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>On “jailed” platforms like stock iOS, <span class="il">Frida</span> provides <span class="il">security</span> professionals with a window into the application’s inner workings &#8211; you can interact with everything the application can, including the filesystem and memory.</p>
<p class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-p1"><strong>3) What are a couple important things to know about <span class="il">Frida</span> before we start using it?</strong></p>
<p>I think the first thing to understand is that <span class="il">Frida</span> is ultimately a framework for building tools.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Although it comes with several useful command-line tools for exploring applications (the <span class="il">Frida</span> command-line interface (CLI) and <span class="il">frida</span>-trace are both invaluable!), it isn’t a scanner or set-and-forget tool that will output a list of vulnerabilities.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>If you are looking for a flexible, open-ended framework that will facilitate your runtime exploration, <span class="il">Frida</span> might be for you!<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span></p>
<p>The second thing to keep in mind is that <span class="il">Frida</span> is much more useful if you approach it with a specific goal, especially when you are starting out.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>For instance, a good initial goal might be “figure out how the application interacts with the network”.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>To use <span class="il">Frida</span> to accomplish that goal, you would first need to do a little research around determining what libraries, classes, functions, and methods are involved in network communications in the application.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Once you have a list of those targets, you can use one of <span class="il">Frida</span>’s tools (such as <span class="il">frida</span>-trace) to get an idea of how they are invoked.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Because <span class="il">Frida</span> is so flexible, the specifics of how you use it will vary greatly on the particular problem you are trying to solve.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Sometimes you’ll be able to rely on the provided command-line tools, and sometimes you’ll need to write your own scripts using <span class="il">Frida</span> as a library.</p>
</div>
<div></div>
<div><strong>4) What would you tell somebody in <span class="il">infosec</span> who&#8217;s having trouble using <span class="il">Frida</span>? (For example, what niches in <span class="il">security</span> really need to &#8220;get it&#8221;? What other things could they study up on first to grasp it better?)</strong></div>
<div></div>
<div>
<p class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-p1">When I first started using <span class="il">Frida</span>, I tried to jump right in writing scripts from scratch without having a clear idea of what I was trying to accomplish.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Figuring out all the moving parts at once ended up slowing me down, and felt overwhelming!<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Based on those experiences, I usually recommend that people who are new to <span class="il">Frida</span> get started by using <span class="il">frida</span>-trace.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>The neat thing about <span class="il">frida</span>-trace is that it will generate stubs called “handlers” that print a simple log message when the functions and methods you specify are invoked.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>These handlers are injected into the target process by <span class="il">frida</span>-trace, which also handles details like receiving and formatting the log messages.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Editing the handlers is a great way to learn about <span class="il">Frida</span>’s JavaScript API (<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-s1">https://www.<span class="il">frida</span>.re/docs/javascript-api/</span>) and gain visibility into specific areas of an application.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>There is a nice walkthrough of the process of editing a handler script in the post “Hacking Android Apps With <span class="il">Frida</span> I” (<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-s1">https://www.codemetrix.net/hacking-android-apps-with-<span class="il">frida</span>-1/</span>).</p>
<p>Once you are comfortable editing the handler code, experiment with creating your own self-contained script that can be loaded into a process using the <span class="il">Frida</span> CLI.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Start by loading some examples that are compatible with your platform, and then try using those as a template to write your own.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>There are many example scripts you can try on <span class="il">Frida</span> Codeshare (<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-s1">https://codeshare.<span class="il">frida</span>.re/</span>) &#8211; copy the code to a file so you can easily edit it, and load it into the <span class="il">Frida</span> CLI using the &#8220;-l&#8221; flag.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Initially, aim to gain proficiency using <span class="il">Frida</span> to invoke native methods in the application.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Then practice using the Interceptor to attach to and replace functions.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Incidentally, if you started out by using <span class="il">frida</span>-trace then using the Interceptor will be very familiar &#8211; just compare the contents of a handler script to the Interceptor.attach() example shown at <span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-s1">https://www.<span class="il">frida</span>.re/docs/javascript-api/#interceptor</span>!</p>
<p>I don’t think you need to have a deep understanding of <span class="il">Frida</span>’s internals to use it, but it is definitely helpful to understand the architecture at a high level.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span><span class="il">Frida</span>’s “Hacking” page has a nice diagram that lays out the different components (<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-s1">https://www.<span class="il">frida</span>.re/docs/hacking/</span>).<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>You’ll also want to know enough JavaScript that you don’t spend a lot of time struggling with syntax and basic programming primitives.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>If you’ve never written in a scripting language, running through some JavaScript tutorials will make it easier to use <span class="il">Frida</span> with the provided command-line tools.</p>
<p class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-p1"><strong>5) What about somebody who has a solid grasp on the basics and wants to delve deeper? (Any self-study suggestions? Are there any open source projects that could benefit from their help?)</strong></p>
<p>If you want to dive deeper, there are several directions you can go!<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>Since <span class="il">Frida</span> is an open-source project, there are many ways to contribute depending on your interests.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>There are also a lot of great tools built with <span class="il">Frida</span>, many of which take contributions.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>For any level of interest, I suggest checking out <span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-s1">https://github.com/dweinstein/awesome-<span class="il">frida</span></span> as a starting point.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>You’ll find <span class="il">blog</span> posts and demos showing some concrete examples of <span class="il">Frida</span>’s functionality, as well as links to some of the projects that use it.</p>
<p>If you want to contribute to <span class="il">Frida</span>, or build more complex tools that leverage it, I’d recommend gaining a greater understanding of how it works.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>One good starting point is “Getting fun with <span class="il">Frida</span>” (<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-s1">https://www.coresecurity.com/system/files/publications/2016/10/Getting%20fun%20with%20Frida-Ekoparty-21-10-2016.pdf</span>), which discusses concepts in Dynamic Binary Instrumentation (DBI) and discusses prior work.<span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-Apple-converted-space">  </span>The 2015 presentation “The Engineering Behind the Reverse Engineering” (slides and video at <span class="m_-2627257930501413658gmail-s1">https://www.<span class="il">frida</span>.re/docs/presentations/</span>) is even more in-depth, and a good follow-up once you grasp the high-level concepts.</p>
</div>
<h2>Perspective Two: Jay</h2>
<p><strong>1) Hi Jay! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Would you please tell us a little about yourself, and your expertise with <span class="il">Frida</span>?</strong></p>
<p>My name is Jahmel Harris but some people know me as Jay. I&#8217;m a freelance pentester in the UK (digitalinterruption.com) and run Manchester Grey Hats (<a href="https://twitter.com/mcrgreyhats" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">https://twitter.com/mcrgreyhats</a>) &#8211; a group where we put on free workshops, ctfs etc to help teach practical cyber <span class="il">security</span> skills to our members. We live stream so no need to be in the UK to attend! Also, feel free to join our Slack (invite link on Twitter).</p>
<p>I started using Frida when performing mobile application testing and found it worked much better than Xposed which I was using at the time. Although XPosed and Frida allows us to do similar things, Frida allows us to do it in a faster and more iterative way. A simple task could take several hours in Xposed can be done in minutes in Frida. More recently, i&#8217;ve been using Frida in bug bounties as many mobile apps go unlooked at due to some (fairly easy to bypass) client side security controls.</p>
<p><strong>2) Assume we work in infosec but have never used Frida. How would you briefly explain the framework to us? Why is it useful for security professionals? (Assume an audience with solid IT fundamentals)</strong></p>
<p>Frida allows us to inject JavaScript into a running application. Why is this useful? Well, it means we have the ability to change the behaviour of applications at runtime. By changing the behaviour of the application, we can add logging which can help us understand the flow, remove security controls or even dump secrets and keys. I find frida helps take testing one step further, especially where mobile apps are concerned. We can test assumptions easier, and change parts of the code without changing the signature. The other advantage is that as it becomes more difficult to jailbreak some devices, Frida can still allow us to perform a thorough test.</p>
<p><strong>3) What are a couple important things to know about Frida before we start using it?</strong></p>
<p>Frida is a great framework but there are some things I remind people:</p>
<ol>
<li>It is not very mature so you *will* discover bugs. Ole André V. Ravnås (the creator of Frida) is very friendly though and helps where he can so don&#8217;t be afraid to reach out to him.</li>
<li>It&#8217;s not only for mobile application testing. For some reason I tend to only see Frida being used for Android and iOS application testing. It supports Windows and Linux so can be used for instrumenting Desktop applications too!</li>
<li>Frida is bundled with a few tools such as frida-trace. This is where I start when trying to RE an application. Frida-trace will log functions that are called as well as generate the JavaScript handlers. This makes it super easy to start guessing interesting function names and tracing on them. As an example, if we&#8217;re looking at an IRC client, we can put traces on *send* or *irc* and we&#8217;re likely to get something interesting. Using Frida it&#8217;s then easy to start changing parameters to these functions or even change the behaviour of them *all at runtime without restarting the application!*</li>
</ol>
<p><strong>4) What would you tell somebody in infosec who&#8217;s having trouble using Frida? (For example, what niches in security really need to &#8220;get it&#8221;? What other things could they study up on first to grasp it better?)</strong></p>
<p>Frida can really help mobile application testers go beyond the basics of app tests. Frida is also invaluable as it allows us perform a lot of useful tests from non rooted and non jailbroken devices which is something we struggle with with each new release of iOS. It&#8217;s important to understand though that Frida isn&#8217;t an exploitation framework. We still need to know what we&#8217;re looking for in an application or the controls we&#8217;re trying to disable. As an example, when doing a mobile application test, I might discover the application uses Certificate Pinning. To bypass this using Frida I will need to reverse the application, figure out the Certificate Pinning logic before writing a Frida hook to bypass it which of course requires some basic coding knowledge.<br />
<strong><br />
5) What about somebody who has a solid grasp on the basics and wants to delve deeper? (Any self-study suggestions? Are there any open source projects that could benefit from their help?)<br />
</strong><br />
As Frida is a framework and not an application per se, anyone using Frida that wants to help should work on more high level tooling using Frida. For example, more general purpose Certificate Pinning bypassing tools or fuzzing tools. The code for Frida is very well written so it&#8217;s easy to understand how Frida works and to contribute with bug fixes. As you find bugs or missing functionality in Frida, raise bug reports as it&#8217;s likely the same issue will be faced by many people.</p>
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<p>So, you&#8217;ve finally landed that infosec job of your dreams! The clouds have parted and angels have descended from the sky singing Aphex Twin.</p>
<p>Congratulations, I believed in you all along.</p>
<p>One small problem: <strong>they say you&#8217;re going to have to travel</strong>. Maybe to a customer site. Maybe to training. It doesn&#8217;t matter. You&#8217;re an introvert and haven&#8217;t traveled much, and you&#8217;re starting to panic.</p>
<p>Don&#8217;t worry &#8211; I&#8217;m here for you, friend! Let&#8217;s go over some basic travel tips for introverted infosec people.</p>
<hr />
<h2>Learn How and What to Pack</h2>
<p>There are hundreds of great blogs on packing for travel you can seek out, so I&#8217;ll keep these tips fairly brief:</p>
<ul>
<li>A decent suitcase is a really important investment. Cheap suitcases without proper roller wheels are frustrating to lug across airports and will break at incredibly inopportune times. I recommend that every traveler have one decent quality carry-on suitcase and one decent quality backpack or shoulder bag with a laptop pouch, at a minimum. The last thing you need is a strap, zipper, or wheel snapping in the middle of the airport. I see no particular advantage to either soft-side or hard-side bags &#8211; the most important things to me in a carry-on are a lightweight, sturdy bag that will fit in regional jet overhead bins even when full.</li>
<li>Learn to neatly and tightly fold or roll your clothes. Clean ones, <em>and</em> dirty ones upon your return. Packing cubes are a huge help by this. I personally like these ones. Some people prefer compression bags, but I&#8217;ve found them a lot more frustrating to use on the return trip, and they don&#8217;t last as long.</li>
<li>Choose clothes that don&#8217;t easily wrinkle, and stick to a common color scheme. The more pieces of clothing you can mix, match, reuse for a couple days, and layer, the easier your life will be on your trip.</li>
<li>Shoes and boots are some of the bulkiest and heaviest things you can pack, so choose a versatile pair of dress shoes and bring as few pairs as possible.</li>
<li>Pack a small towel.</li>
<li>When flying, always pack essential travel-size toiletries and one change of clothes (underwear and socks at a minimum) in your carry-on bag. Luggage does get lost, and flights get delayed (sometimes overnight).</li>
<li>On the same note, always have medication, contact lenses, underwear, and socks for one more day than you plan to travel.</li>
<li>Always carry a travel-size Ibuprofen, Benadryl, and antacid. Those are a few small things you do not want to have to take a walk for in a strange city when you really need them.</li>
<li>Consider your personal daily usage of toiletry items. A million bloggers will tell you a million different things about how much soap to pack. For the most part, travel-size items will last you 3-4 days. For longer trips, you&#8217;ll probably need more. However, if you have long hair like I do, you might need more than a 3oz / 100ml bottle of conditioner for even a three day trip. This is something you&#8217;ll learn with practice.</li>
<li>If you run out of your travel-size toiletry items, buying toiletries at your destination is usually by far the most economical option, particularly when flying. There are convenience stories or pharmacies almost anywhere. However, expensive cosmetics or skincare products are definitely an exception and may motivate you to pay $25 each way to check a suitcase. Your call.</li>
<li>One final note about toiletries and flying &#8211; learn what the TSA and similar international agencies consider a &#8220;liquid&#8221; and a &#8220;gel&#8221;. There are lots of alternative toiletries like face wipes and solid deodorants that are not controlled by liquid restrictions that can give you a bit more wiggle room.</li>
<li>Have two phone chargers &#8211; one in your suitcase or car, and one in your carry-on or laptop bag.</li>
<li>If traveling to a different country, ensure you have the correct power adapters or plugs for your electronics. Bring a power converter if necessary, but they&#8217;re bulky and becoming irrelevant. <em>Most</em> laptops and phones made in the last 10 years can handle either 110v or 220v AC, so all you&#8217;ll need to replace is the plug, not the power brick. Check yours and make sure.<br />
TIP: MacBook wall plugs side off the power brick and are trivial to swap at will!</li>
<li>Plan for a catastrophic laptop crash, with either a USB drive or a recovery partition.</li>
</ul>
<h2>Have a Passport</h2>
<p>They last a decade and aren&#8217;t super-expensive, but they take quite a while to arrive unless you pay for them to be expedited. Every infosec person should have one for last minute work or conference travel. Pat notes that it&#8217;s a great idea to pay for a passport card as well, as secondary emergency ID, and for the smaller form factor.</p>
<h2>Learn How To Fly</h2>
<p>It&#8217;s okay if you&#8217;ve never flown on a plane before. Lots of great infosec people hadn&#8217;t before they got their first job.</p>
<p>Read up a bit on air travel regulations before getting on your first flight. Prepare to go through airport security. For instance, read up on liquid and gel restrictions, and keep this bag easily retrievable in your carry on. Be prepared to take your laptop out quickly in the security line. In most places, security also requires removing belts, jewelry, wallets, and shoes, then placing them in a bin.</p>
<p><em>US Residents</em> &#8211; ensure your State ID or Driver&#8217;s License is still adequate to use at the airport. Some states&#8217; will not be soon, and you may need to purchase an enhanced ID or use a federal ID card such as a passport or military ID card.</p>
<p>Domestically, check into your flight at least an hour prior to boarding time (not departure time) &#8211; longer if you intend to check a bag. (If you&#8217;re running late, checking in on your phone can sometimes get you on the plane after check-in closes at the airport.) International travel has a significantly longer lead time &#8211; check the airport&#8217;s website for details.</p>
<p>Check the gate on your boarding pass and find and verify it has not changed before going off for a washroom break or a coffee. Airports all over the world are full of signs and maps to help you. Make sure you&#8217;re back at the gate before boarding time. (Once again, this is not the same as departure time.)</p>
<p>Most economy-class domestic flights in the US no longer serve any meal, and some may not even serve drinks. Others offer packaged food at a pretty exorbitant cost. I recommend you grab a sandwich and a drink in the airport after you find your gate. In my experience, most other countries&#8217; carriers still serve a light snack &#8211; your ticket will usually indicate this. International flights will usually serve at least one meal, but you might not get any choice of what it is (allergen free, vegetarian, etc).</p>
<p>A bit about boarding groups &#8211; you and I will probably never be in the oft fabled Boarding Group 1. That tends to be pay-to-play, or extremely frequent travelers, or business class. If you&#8217;re in a higher boarding group (3-5 on most airlines), the overhead bins may fill up, and you&#8217;ll be required to check your carry-on bag for free at the gate. Ensure your important documents, electronics, and medications are transferred to your person if this is required.</p>
<p>On the plane, follow all posted safety instructions and stay seated with your seatbelt fastened unless you go to the lavatory. Be polite to the crew and don&#8217;t be afraid to ask questions.</p>
<p>What I normally have on my person or under the seat (not in the overhead bin) on your average flight:</p>
<ul>
<li>Phone in airplane mode</li>
<li>Headphones (most commercial aircraft now support standard ones)</li>
<li>Wallet</li>
<li>Earplugs</li>
<li>Sandwich (on domestic flights)</li>
<li>Water bottle</li>
<li>Book</li>
<li>Travel neck pillow</li>
<li>Pen (especially if I have to fill out international customs forms)</li>
<li>Melatonin (on international flights) &#8211; (please note different sleep aids are OTC-authorized in different countries; plan accordingly).</li>
<li>Vicks Vapor Inhaler or equivalent (no, it&#8217;s not a vape &#8211; it helps with the dry air.)</li>
</ul>
<p>Congratulations, you&#8217;re now an airport pro.</p>
<h2>Safety and Security</h2>
<p>Once again, we&#8217;ve reached a topic on which there have been many great blogs and articles already written (I particularly love Stephen Northcutt&#8216;s &#8211; he&#8217;s definitely had some adventures!)</p>
<p>A few small fundamentals:</p>
<ul>
<li>Be aware of the threats you will face as an individual and as an information security employee of your company in the place you&#8217;re going, before you arrive.</li>
<li>Consider bringing loaner / disposable electronic devices. At the very least, update and encrypt your devices. (They should be already, but this becomes absolutely critical during travel.)</li>
<li>Do not carry large sums of cash on your person, and don&#8217;t carry all your money in one place. Consider a discreet money belt or anti-theft bag.</li>
<li>Ensure the locks, peephole, phone, and safe in your hotel room work properly and ask to change rooms immediately if they do not.</li>
<li>Never let a stranger into your hotel room.</li>
<li>Pay attention to your surroundings. It&#8217;s very easy in a strange city to get distracted by the sights or your map. Tourist areas all over the world often have heavy pickpocket activity and crazy traffic.</li>
<li>Consider sightseeing with a buddy, but don&#8217;t let eating or sightseeing alone stop you from getting out. (Just make sure somebody knows where you are.)</li>
<li>Don&#8217;t make yourself a target! Don&#8217;t wear clothing that identifies your point of origin or that you are a tourist (language, flags, distinct regional clothing styles, etc). Dress like a local whenever possible. Keep the camera in the bag until you&#8217;re ready to use it.</li>
<li>Addendum, AMERICANS: Yes, us! We stand out. We tend to be significantly louder and less professionally dressed than locals, especially in Europe. Please, just don&#8217;t.</li>
<li>If you&#8217;re leaving your country, understand what access foreign internet service providers and customs agents may have to your personal and work devices.</li>
<li>Evaluate your personal threat model and make an informed risk decision about what devices and data to bring with you, and how you plan to connect to the internet and authenticate to your accounts while traveling (private VPN? Yubikey?)</li>
<li><a class="pretty-link js-user-profile-link" href="https://twitter.com/SecurityCatnip" rel="noopener"><span class="username u-dir" dir="ltr">@<b>SecurityCatnip</b></span></a> notes that when progressing through security, Immigration, or Customs, it&#8217;s never particularly wise to introduce yourself as as a &#8220;computer hacker&#8221;. &#8220;IT&#8221; or &#8220;computer security&#8221; is quite sufficient unless pressed for specifics. &#8220;Hacking&#8221; carries various legal and social connotations around the world.</li>
</ul>
<p>We as Information Security professionals tend to be highly and often reasonably paranoid about our personal security, so I will simply leave you with a reminder that <strong>everyone is in fact <em>not</em> out to get you, and while you should always make sensible and informed risk decisions about your security, you should also not let them entirely prevent you from exploring a new place.</strong></p>
<h2>Before You Leave Your Country</h2>
<p><em>For US Residents:</em></p>
<ul>
<li>Check the State Department Website for travel safety information on the country you will be visiting: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country.html</li>
<li>Check the CDC website for information on vaccinations you require prior to travel: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list/<br />
TIP: Doctor on Demand can provide you a cheap and easy vaccine referral via your phone or tablet when walk in clinic nurse practitioners cannot.</li>
<li>Consider enrolling in the US State Department STEP program.</li>
<li><a class="pretty-link js-user-profile-link" href="https://twitter.com/YouAre138" rel="noopener"><span class="username u-dir" dir="ltr">@<b>YouAre138</b></span></a> comments that the TSA PreCheck and Global Entry programs are a huge benefit for frequent air travelers, especially travelers in a professional group. Those programs do come with significant background checks and biometric disclosure, so while I personally find them extremely time-saving, you will need to make your own privacy decision.</li>
</ul>
<p><em>For Everyone:</em></p>
<ul>
<li>Contact your personal and/or work mobile phone provider for information on international voice and data plans for the duration of your travel. If you do not purchase international data service, disable cellular data for the duration of the trip or you may unwittingly face extremely steep fees. T-Mobile One is my favorite pick  for frequent international travelers from the US, as it provides free 2G data service in dozens of countries with no plan modification or additional fees. <a class="account-group js-account-group js-action-profile js-user-profile-link js-nav" href="https://twitter.com/securitykitten"><span class="username u-dir" dir="ltr">@<b>securitykitten</b></span></a> prefers GoogleFi for the faster global 3G speeds, but their plans contain a firm data cap and overage charges if you plan to tether. If your phone is unlocked, you can also consider buying a SIM card at your destination if you need to do a lot of local calling.</li>
<li>Consider purchasing a travel health insurance policy, particularly if you&#8217;re traveling somewhere without universal health coverage for non-residents, or if you might be participating in high risk activities. Do get your shots in advance.</li>
<li>Choose a chip-enabled credit card that is preferably not your primary bill auto-payment method to bring on your travel, and contact the provider in advance to inform them you will be traveling abroad. (<a class="account-group js-account-group js-action-profile js-user-profile-link js-nav" href="https://twitter.com/mopman"><span class="username u-dir" dir="ltr">@<b>mopman</b></span></a> adds an great reminder that some credit cards carry not insignificant international transaction fees &#8211; ensure you check this with your bank).</li>
<li>Read up a little on your destination. Understand the general geography, weather, economy, customs and courtesies (like tipping), criminal statistics, food and water safety, corruption, and political climate. Learn the current exchange rate to your country&#8217;s currency. Learning a couple phrases in the local language, (particularly courtesies and greetings), is usually appreciated by locals.</li>
<li>Make a copy of your important travel documents to lock in your room safe for the duration of your trip, in case of a lost or stolen wallet.</li>
</ul>
<h2>Have a Good Attitude</h2>
<p>So you&#8217;re going to training in Springfield, population 700, with nothing but cornfields for miles in every direction. Or maybe you&#8217;re going to a country you never wanted to visit and you don&#8217;t speak the language. Everything&#8217;s terrible, right?</p>
<p>Let me let you in on a secret: <span style="color:#993300"><strong>I have</strong></span> <strong><span style="color:#ff6600">never</span> <span style="color:#ffcc00">in my life</span> <span style="color:#339966">traveled anywhere</span> <span style="color:#0000ff">I didn&#8217;t like </span><span style="color:#993366">something about</span>!</strong> In the most remote, Midwestern town I&#8217;ve ever traveled to, I found an amazing Amish market with the best sandwich I&#8217;ve ever eaten! I had amazing traditional Central American chocolate and an incredible boat ride through the glaciers in Anchorage. I saw adorable meerkats at a private zoo in Germany.<strong> These are the things you will remember in 10 years. You will not remember the hotel room</strong> &#8211; they start to blend together.</p>
<p>It&#8217;s important to remember that people are complicated individuals with lives and hobbies, wherever you go. Life might be much faster paced or much slower paced than what you&#8217;re used to, but people still eat, have families, and find recreation. If you keep your spirits up and ask around, you&#8217;ll find something cool to do anywhere you&#8217;re sent.</p>
<h2>Packing the Game Console?</h2>
<p>I love gaming too, but try to leave the PS4 at home if at all possible on your first trip to a new place. Give the place a chance. If you still hate it after 3 days, I&#8217;ll give you a pass on watching cable and playing smartphone games.</p>
<h2>Plan Outside Business Hours</h2>
<p>Traveling for business is a very different experience than traveling for pleasure. Significantly &#8211; packing requirements will be different, and your schedule will be different. This shouldn&#8217;t be an excuse for you to stay in your hotel room. Particularly in large cities, there are plenty of sights to see after business hours. While museums may frequently be closed after 5PM, outdoor sights will likely remain open much later &#8211; and be less crowded! Many attractions and tour companies offer passes and tickets at discounted rates in the evenings. There are also musical and theatrical events, even on weeknights.</p>
<p>Tripadvisor and Viator are a great resource for finding interesting things to do prior to your travel. Keep in mind that lots of smaller attractions have active Facebook pages where you can seek additional information from locals or employees. I like to take some notes with operating hours, locations, and prices to bring with me.</p>
<h2>Ask a Local, and Keep an Open Mind</h2>
<p>Don&#8217;t be afraid to ask colleagues, employees, or the hotel concierge for recommendations of local stuff to do or places to eat. People usually love talking about their favorite things! Even if what they suggest isn&#8217;t normally your cup of tea, consider giving their recommendations a shot (with reasonable health, security, and safety considerations).</p>
<p>The absolute worst that is likely to happen in 99.5% of cases is you&#8217;ll be stuck ordering the plain tomato soup, or you&#8217;ll be bored and bemused for a few hours. Conversely, you might have a great time, and discover a new favorite food. Either way, you&#8217;ve had a new life experience and you&#8217;ve grown as an individual.</p>
<h2>Be The Travel Agent</h2>
<p>Traveling with a group can be tough &#8211; even deciding where to eat can take a while if everybody is polite and introverted. Don&#8217;t be afraid to make yourself the travel agent for a day. Once you&#8217;ve identified something cool to see or a great place to eat, do a little research and suggest it to your traveling companions, and you&#8217;ll probably be surprised how many people were just waiting for somebody else to take the initiative. If you can tell them how you&#8217;ll get there and what the entry fees and hours are, all the better!</p>
<h2>Have An Escape Plan</h2>
<p>It&#8217;s important for any introverted traveler to plan reliable places to recombobulate that frequently exist and are similar in any unfamiliar city. Two reasons:</p>
<p>1) When something goes wrong (hotel room not ready, plane delayed, etc), this will give you a place to spend an hour or two and rethink your plans, and</p>
<p>2) When you get fed up with being around the same coworkers or customers, it will  provide you something do to alone.</p>
<p>These places are unique to you and I can&#8217;t tell you exactly what yours are going to be. In general, they should:</p>
<ul>
<li>Be open across a broad range of hours.</li>
<li>Have a place to sit with free WiFi.</li>
<li>Be safely and easily accessible by ride-share, walking, or taxi &#8211; even if your phone&#8217;s dead.</li>
<li>Have reasonably clean public washrooms.</li>
<li>Be reasonably secure.</li>
<li>Allow you to stay for an hour or two.</li>
<li>Have friendly employees or patrons who can give you directions or assistance.</li>
<li>Provide you something to do, even if it&#8217;s just read a map without disruption.</li>
<li>Outlets are a plus.</li>
</ul>
<p>My personal choices are shopping malls and yoga studios. They exist pretty ubiquitously and it&#8217;s easy for a stranger to patronize them without a lot of discussion. They provide me with familiar surroundings and some peace and quiet to think about my next move. Any rideshare driver knows where one is. Some other suggestions that exist in nearly any medium to large town might be:</p>
<ul>
<li>Gyms with drop-in rates.</li>
<li>Libraries</li>
<li>Coffee shops</li>
</ul>
<p>Bars are great but I don&#8217;t recommend them for this purpose in specific.</p>
<p>Whatever you choose, make sure you have those factors in the back of your mind, and even consider looking up where your choices are on a map before you travel. You&#8217;ll have a fallback plan when something goes wrong (or you just need some time to yourself). Don&#8217;t spend all of your time there, but use them as needed to recharge.</p>
<h2>3-2-1</h2>
<p><em><strong>No amount of Vitamin C in a pouch alone will reliably keep you from getting sick!</strong></em> The facts are simple &#8211; you will likely be in a confined space with a few sick people during any flight, class, or conference. The #1 best way to prevent con plague is <strong>adequate sleep, healthy meals, and washing your hands </strong>regularly with soap and warm water. Bring hand sanitizer, but don&#8217;t rely on it exclusively. Try to drink plenty of water and juice to moderate coffee and alcohol.</p>
<h2>No Problem is Insurmountable</h2>
<p>Everybody makes mistakes while traveling. I&#8217;ve been in 7 countries this year and have a go bag, and I still occasionally forget to pack basic stuff. Things are going to go wrong. You&#8217;re going to forget something important like deodorant or medication, or it&#8217;s going to rain your entire trip, or your luggage is going to get lost. Maybe your wallet will get stolen or misplaced.</p>
<p>Do your best to plan sensibly, but realize plans will sometimes go awry. There are very few places you will travel for an information security job where even these problems will be insurmountable or deadly. There are convenience stores, pharmacies, and Western Unions all over the world. Clothes can be replaced. Replacement credit cards can be overnight-ed to your hotel. Toiletries can be replaced. Cables and adapters can be same day delivered by Amazon. Even money, passports, and mobile phones can be replaced within a day in most places. Consider it a learning experience.</p>
<p>The first thing you must do when something goes massively awry is take a deep breath and <em>think</em>. The second thing you should do is contact the authorities if a crime has been committed. This may be local police, or your country&#8217;s consulate, or both. Your employer&#8217;s loss prevention, physical security, or travel team will probably be able to assist you with next steps. Your hotel can also provide assistance in many situations you might feel are impossible crises.</p>
<p>You can do this! Keep calm and carry on!</p>
<p><script async src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></p>

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                    [summary#] => 1
                    [summary] => So, you&#8217;ve finally landed that infosec job of your dreams! The clouds have parted and angels have descended from the sky singing Aphex Twin....
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<p>So, you&#8217;ve finally landed that infosec job of your dreams! The clouds have parted and angels have descended from the sky singing Aphex Twin.</p>
<p>Congratulations, I believed in you all along.</p>
<p>One small problem: <strong>they say you&#8217;re going to have to travel</strong>. Maybe to a customer site. Maybe to training. It doesn&#8217;t matter. You&#8217;re an introvert and haven&#8217;t traveled much, and you&#8217;re starting to panic.</p>
<p>Don&#8217;t worry &#8211; I&#8217;m here for you, friend! Let&#8217;s go over some basic travel tips for introverted infosec people.</p>
<hr />
<h2>Learn How and What to Pack</h2>
<p>There are hundreds of great blogs on packing for travel you can seek out, so I&#8217;ll keep these tips fairly brief:</p>
<ul>
<li>A decent suitcase is a really important investment. Cheap suitcases without proper roller wheels are frustrating to lug across airports and will break at incredibly inopportune times. I recommend that every traveler have one decent quality carry-on suitcase and one decent quality backpack or shoulder bag with a laptop pouch, at a minimum. The last thing you need is a strap, zipper, or wheel snapping in the middle of the airport. I see no particular advantage to either soft-side or hard-side bags &#8211; the most important things to me in a carry-on are a lightweight, sturdy bag that will fit in regional jet overhead bins even when full.</li>
<li>Learn to neatly and tightly fold or roll your clothes. Clean ones, <em>and</em> dirty ones upon your return. Packing cubes are a huge help by this. I personally like these ones. Some people prefer compression bags, but I&#8217;ve found them a lot more frustrating to use on the return trip, and they don&#8217;t last as long.</li>
<li>Choose clothes that don&#8217;t easily wrinkle, and stick to a common color scheme. The more pieces of clothing you can mix, match, reuse for a couple days, and layer, the easier your life will be on your trip.</li>
<li>Shoes and boots are some of the bulkiest and heaviest things you can pack, so choose a versatile pair of dress shoes and bring as few pairs as possible.</li>
<li>Pack a small towel.</li>
<li>When flying, always pack essential travel-size toiletries and one change of clothes (underwear and socks at a minimum) in your carry-on bag. Luggage does get lost, and flights get delayed (sometimes overnight).</li>
<li>On the same note, always have medication, contact lenses, underwear, and socks for one more day than you plan to travel.</li>
<li>Always carry a travel-size Ibuprofen, Benadryl, and antacid. Those are a few small things you do not want to have to take a walk for in a strange city when you really need them.</li>
<li>Consider your personal daily usage of toiletry items. A million bloggers will tell you a million different things about how much soap to pack. For the most part, travel-size items will last you 3-4 days. For longer trips, you&#8217;ll probably need more. However, if you have long hair like I do, you might need more than a 3oz / 100ml bottle of conditioner for even a three day trip. This is something you&#8217;ll learn with practice.</li>
<li>If you run out of your travel-size toiletry items, buying toiletries at your destination is usually by far the most economical option, particularly when flying. There are convenience stories or pharmacies almost anywhere. However, expensive cosmetics or skincare products are definitely an exception and may motivate you to pay $25 each way to check a suitcase. Your call.</li>
<li>One final note about toiletries and flying &#8211; learn what the TSA and similar international agencies consider a &#8220;liquid&#8221; and a &#8220;gel&#8221;. There are lots of alternative toiletries like face wipes and solid deodorants that are not controlled by liquid restrictions that can give you a bit more wiggle room.</li>
<li>Have two phone chargers &#8211; one in your suitcase or car, and one in your carry-on or laptop bag.</li>
<li>If traveling to a different country, ensure you have the correct power adapters or plugs for your electronics. Bring a power converter if necessary, but they&#8217;re bulky and becoming irrelevant. <em>Most</em> laptops and phones made in the last 10 years can handle either 110v or 220v AC, so all you&#8217;ll need to replace is the plug, not the power brick. Check yours and make sure.<br />
TIP: MacBook wall plugs side off the power brick and are trivial to swap at will!</li>
<li>Plan for a catastrophic laptop crash, with either a USB drive or a recovery partition.</li>
</ul>
<h2>Have a Passport</h2>
<p>They last a decade and aren&#8217;t super-expensive, but they take quite a while to arrive unless you pay for them to be expedited. Every infosec person should have one for last minute work or conference travel. Pat notes that it&#8217;s a great idea to pay for a passport card as well, as secondary emergency ID, and for the smaller form factor.</p>
<h2>Learn How To Fly</h2>
<p>It&#8217;s okay if you&#8217;ve never flown on a plane before. Lots of great infosec people hadn&#8217;t before they got their first job.</p>
<p>Read up a bit on air travel regulations before getting on your first flight. Prepare to go through airport security. For instance, read up on liquid and gel restrictions, and keep this bag easily retrievable in your carry on. Be prepared to take your laptop out quickly in the security line. In most places, security also requires removing belts, jewelry, wallets, and shoes, then placing them in a bin.</p>
<p><em>US Residents</em> &#8211; ensure your State ID or Driver&#8217;s License is still adequate to use at the airport. Some states&#8217; will not be soon, and you may need to purchase an enhanced ID or use a federal ID card such as a passport or military ID card.</p>
<p>Domestically, check into your flight at least an hour prior to boarding time (not departure time) &#8211; longer if you intend to check a bag. (If you&#8217;re running late, checking in on your phone can sometimes get you on the plane after check-in closes at the airport.) International travel has a significantly longer lead time &#8211; check the airport&#8217;s website for details.</p>
<p>Check the gate on your boarding pass and find and verify it has not changed before going off for a washroom break or a coffee. Airports all over the world are full of signs and maps to help you. Make sure you&#8217;re back at the gate before boarding time. (Once again, this is not the same as departure time.)</p>
<p>Most economy-class domestic flights in the US no longer serve any meal, and some may not even serve drinks. Others offer packaged food at a pretty exorbitant cost. I recommend you grab a sandwich and a drink in the airport after you find your gate. In my experience, most other countries&#8217; carriers still serve a light snack &#8211; your ticket will usually indicate this. International flights will usually serve at least one meal, but you might not get any choice of what it is (allergen free, vegetarian, etc).</p>
<p>A bit about boarding groups &#8211; you and I will probably never be in the oft fabled Boarding Group 1. That tends to be pay-to-play, or extremely frequent travelers, or business class. If you&#8217;re in a higher boarding group (3-5 on most airlines), the overhead bins may fill up, and you&#8217;ll be required to check your carry-on bag for free at the gate. Ensure your important documents, electronics, and medications are transferred to your person if this is required.</p>
<p>On the plane, follow all posted safety instructions and stay seated with your seatbelt fastened unless you go to the lavatory. Be polite to the crew and don&#8217;t be afraid to ask questions.</p>
<p>What I normally have on my person or under the seat (not in the overhead bin) on your average flight:</p>
<ul>
<li>Phone in airplane mode</li>
<li>Headphones (most commercial aircraft now support standard ones)</li>
<li>Wallet</li>
<li>Earplugs</li>
<li>Sandwich (on domestic flights)</li>
<li>Water bottle</li>
<li>Book</li>
<li>Travel neck pillow</li>
<li>Pen (especially if I have to fill out international customs forms)</li>
<li>Melatonin (on international flights) &#8211; (please note different sleep aids are OTC-authorized in different countries; plan accordingly).</li>
<li>Vicks Vapor Inhaler or equivalent (no, it&#8217;s not a vape &#8211; it helps with the dry air.)</li>
</ul>
<p>Congratulations, you&#8217;re now an airport pro.</p>
<h2>Safety and Security</h2>
<p>Once again, we&#8217;ve reached a topic on which there have been many great blogs and articles already written (I particularly love Stephen Northcutt&#8216;s &#8211; he&#8217;s definitely had some adventures!)</p>
<p>A few small fundamentals:</p>
<ul>
<li>Be aware of the threats you will face as an individual and as an information security employee of your company in the place you&#8217;re going, before you arrive.</li>
<li>Consider bringing loaner / disposable electronic devices. At the very least, update and encrypt your devices. (They should be already, but this becomes absolutely critical during travel.)</li>
<li>Do not carry large sums of cash on your person, and don&#8217;t carry all your money in one place. Consider a discreet money belt or anti-theft bag.</li>
<li>Ensure the locks, peephole, phone, and safe in your hotel room work properly and ask to change rooms immediately if they do not.</li>
<li>Never let a stranger into your hotel room.</li>
<li>Pay attention to your surroundings. It&#8217;s very easy in a strange city to get distracted by the sights or your map. Tourist areas all over the world often have heavy pickpocket activity and crazy traffic.</li>
<li>Consider sightseeing with a buddy, but don&#8217;t let eating or sightseeing alone stop you from getting out. (Just make sure somebody knows where you are.)</li>
<li>Don&#8217;t make yourself a target! Don&#8217;t wear clothing that identifies your point of origin or that you are a tourist (language, flags, distinct regional clothing styles, etc). Dress like a local whenever possible. Keep the camera in the bag until you&#8217;re ready to use it.</li>
<li>Addendum, AMERICANS: Yes, us! We stand out. We tend to be significantly louder and less professionally dressed than locals, especially in Europe. Please, just don&#8217;t.</li>
<li>If you&#8217;re leaving your country, understand what access foreign internet service providers and customs agents may have to your personal and work devices.</li>
<li>Evaluate your personal threat model and make an informed risk decision about what devices and data to bring with you, and how you plan to connect to the internet and authenticate to your accounts while traveling (private VPN? Yubikey?)</li>
<li><a class="pretty-link js-user-profile-link" href="https://twitter.com/SecurityCatnip" rel="noopener"><span class="username u-dir" dir="ltr">@<b>SecurityCatnip</b></span></a> notes that when progressing through security, Immigration, or Customs, it&#8217;s never particularly wise to introduce yourself as as a &#8220;computer hacker&#8221;. &#8220;IT&#8221; or &#8220;computer security&#8221; is quite sufficient unless pressed for specifics. &#8220;Hacking&#8221; carries various legal and social connotations around the world.</li>
</ul>
<p>We as Information Security professionals tend to be highly and often reasonably paranoid about our personal security, so I will simply leave you with a reminder that <strong>everyone is in fact <em>not</em> out to get you, and while you should always make sensible and informed risk decisions about your security, you should also not let them entirely prevent you from exploring a new place.</strong></p>
<h2>Before You Leave Your Country</h2>
<p><em>For US Residents:</em></p>
<ul>
<li>Check the State Department Website for travel safety information on the country you will be visiting: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country.html</li>
<li>Check the CDC website for information on vaccinations you require prior to travel: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list/<br />
TIP: Doctor on Demand can provide you a cheap and easy vaccine referral via your phone or tablet when walk in clinic nurse practitioners cannot.</li>
<li>Consider enrolling in the US State Department STEP program.</li>
<li><a class="pretty-link js-user-profile-link" href="https://twitter.com/YouAre138" rel="noopener"><span class="username u-dir" dir="ltr">@<b>YouAre138</b></span></a> comments that the TSA PreCheck and Global Entry programs are a huge benefit for frequent air travelers, especially travelers in a professional group. Those programs do come with significant background checks and biometric disclosure, so while I personally find them extremely time-saving, you will need to make your own privacy decision.</li>
</ul>
<p><em>For Everyone:</em></p>
<ul>
<li>Contact your personal and/or work mobile phone provider for information on international voice and data plans for the duration of your travel. If you do not purchase international data service, disable cellular data for the duration of the trip or you may unwittingly face extremely steep fees. T-Mobile One is my favorite pick  for frequent international travelers from the US, as it provides free 2G data service in dozens of countries with no plan modification or additional fees. <a class="account-group js-account-group js-action-profile js-user-profile-link js-nav" href="https://twitter.com/securitykitten"><span class="username u-dir" dir="ltr">@<b>securitykitten</b></span></a> prefers GoogleFi for the faster global 3G speeds, but their plans contain a firm data cap and overage charges if you plan to tether. If your phone is unlocked, you can also consider buying a SIM card at your destination if you need to do a lot of local calling.</li>
<li>Consider purchasing a travel health insurance policy, particularly if you&#8217;re traveling somewhere without universal health coverage for non-residents, or if you might be participating in high risk activities. Do get your shots in advance.</li>
<li>Choose a chip-enabled credit card that is preferably not your primary bill auto-payment method to bring on your travel, and contact the provider in advance to inform them you will be traveling abroad. (<a class="account-group js-account-group js-action-profile js-user-profile-link js-nav" href="https://twitter.com/mopman"><span class="username u-dir" dir="ltr">@<b>mopman</b></span></a> adds an great reminder that some credit cards carry not insignificant international transaction fees &#8211; ensure you check this with your bank).</li>
<li>Read up a little on your destination. Understand the general geography, weather, economy, customs and courtesies (like tipping), criminal statistics, food and water safety, corruption, and political climate. Learn the current exchange rate to your country&#8217;s currency. Learning a couple phrases in the local language, (particularly courtesies and greetings), is usually appreciated by locals.</li>
<li>Make a copy of your important travel documents to lock in your room safe for the duration of your trip, in case of a lost or stolen wallet.</li>
</ul>
<h2>Have a Good Attitude</h2>
<p>So you&#8217;re going to training in Springfield, population 700, with nothing but cornfields for miles in every direction. Or maybe you&#8217;re going to a country you never wanted to visit and you don&#8217;t speak the language. Everything&#8217;s terrible, right?</p>
<p>Let me let you in on a secret: <span style="color:#993300"><strong>I have</strong></span> <strong><span style="color:#ff6600">never</span> <span style="color:#ffcc00">in my life</span> <span style="color:#339966">traveled anywhere</span> <span style="color:#0000ff">I didn&#8217;t like </span><span style="color:#993366">something about</span>!</strong> In the most remote, Midwestern town I&#8217;ve ever traveled to, I found an amazing Amish market with the best sandwich I&#8217;ve ever eaten! I had amazing traditional Central American chocolate and an incredible boat ride through the glaciers in Anchorage. I saw adorable meerkats at a private zoo in Germany.<strong> These are the things you will remember in 10 years. You will not remember the hotel room</strong> &#8211; they start to blend together.</p>
<p>It&#8217;s important to remember that people are complicated individuals with lives and hobbies, wherever you go. Life might be much faster paced or much slower paced than what you&#8217;re used to, but people still eat, have families, and find recreation. If you keep your spirits up and ask around, you&#8217;ll find something cool to do anywhere you&#8217;re sent.</p>
<h2>Packing the Game Console?</h2>
<p>I love gaming too, but try to leave the PS4 at home if at all possible on your first trip to a new place. Give the place a chance. If you still hate it after 3 days, I&#8217;ll give you a pass on watching cable and playing smartphone games.</p>
<h2>Plan Outside Business Hours</h2>
<p>Traveling for business is a very different experience than traveling for pleasure. Significantly &#8211; packing requirements will be different, and your schedule will be different. This shouldn&#8217;t be an excuse for you to stay in your hotel room. Particularly in large cities, there are plenty of sights to see after business hours. While museums may frequently be closed after 5PM, outdoor sights will likely remain open much later &#8211; and be less crowded! Many attractions and tour companies offer passes and tickets at discounted rates in the evenings. There are also musical and theatrical events, even on weeknights.</p>
<p>Tripadvisor and Viator are a great resource for finding interesting things to do prior to your travel. Keep in mind that lots of smaller attractions have active Facebook pages where you can seek additional information from locals or employees. I like to take some notes with operating hours, locations, and prices to bring with me.</p>
<h2>Ask a Local, and Keep an Open Mind</h2>
<p>Don&#8217;t be afraid to ask colleagues, employees, or the hotel concierge for recommendations of local stuff to do or places to eat. People usually love talking about their favorite things! Even if what they suggest isn&#8217;t normally your cup of tea, consider giving their recommendations a shot (with reasonable health, security, and safety considerations).</p>
<p>The absolute worst that is likely to happen in 99.5% of cases is you&#8217;ll be stuck ordering the plain tomato soup, or you&#8217;ll be bored and bemused for a few hours. Conversely, you might have a great time, and discover a new favorite food. Either way, you&#8217;ve had a new life experience and you&#8217;ve grown as an individual.</p>
<h2>Be The Travel Agent</h2>
<p>Traveling with a group can be tough &#8211; even deciding where to eat can take a while if everybody is polite and introverted. Don&#8217;t be afraid to make yourself the travel agent for a day. Once you&#8217;ve identified something cool to see or a great place to eat, do a little research and suggest it to your traveling companions, and you&#8217;ll probably be surprised how many people were just waiting for somebody else to take the initiative. If you can tell them how you&#8217;ll get there and what the entry fees and hours are, all the better!</p>
<h2>Have An Escape Plan</h2>
<p>It&#8217;s important for any introverted traveler to plan reliable places to recombobulate that frequently exist and are similar in any unfamiliar city. Two reasons:</p>
<p>1) When something goes wrong (hotel room not ready, plane delayed, etc), this will give you a place to spend an hour or two and rethink your plans, and</p>
<p>2) When you get fed up with being around the same coworkers or customers, it will  provide you something do to alone.</p>
<p>These places are unique to you and I can&#8217;t tell you exactly what yours are going to be. In general, they should:</p>
<ul>
<li>Be open across a broad range of hours.</li>
<li>Have a place to sit with free WiFi.</li>
<li>Be safely and easily accessible by ride-share, walking, or taxi &#8211; even if your phone&#8217;s dead.</li>
<li>Have reasonably clean public washrooms.</li>
<li>Be reasonably secure.</li>
<li>Allow you to stay for an hour or two.</li>
<li>Have friendly employees or patrons who can give you directions or assistance.</li>
<li>Provide you something to do, even if it&#8217;s just read a map without disruption.</li>
<li>Outlets are a plus.</li>
</ul>
<p>My personal choices are shopping malls and yoga studios. They exist pretty ubiquitously and it&#8217;s easy for a stranger to patronize them without a lot of discussion. They provide me with familiar surroundings and some peace and quiet to think about my next move. Any rideshare driver knows where one is. Some other suggestions that exist in nearly any medium to large town might be:</p>
<ul>
<li>Gyms with drop-in rates.</li>
<li>Libraries</li>
<li>Coffee shops</li>
</ul>
<p>Bars are great but I don&#8217;t recommend them for this purpose in specific.</p>
<p>Whatever you choose, make sure you have those factors in the back of your mind, and even consider looking up where your choices are on a map before you travel. You&#8217;ll have a fallback plan when something goes wrong (or you just need some time to yourself). Don&#8217;t spend all of your time there, but use them as needed to recharge.</p>
<h2>3-2-1</h2>
<p><em><strong>No amount of Vitamin C in a pouch alone will reliably keep you from getting sick!</strong></em> The facts are simple &#8211; you will likely be in a confined space with a few sick people during any flight, class, or conference. The #1 best way to prevent con plague is <strong>adequate sleep, healthy meals, and washing your hands </strong>regularly with soap and warm water. Bring hand sanitizer, but don&#8217;t rely on it exclusively. Try to drink plenty of water and juice to moderate coffee and alcohol.</p>
<h2>No Problem is Insurmountable</h2>
<p>Everybody makes mistakes while traveling. I&#8217;ve been in 7 countries this year and have a go bag, and I still occasionally forget to pack basic stuff. Things are going to go wrong. You&#8217;re going to forget something important like deodorant or medication, or it&#8217;s going to rain your entire trip, or your luggage is going to get lost. Maybe your wallet will get stolen or misplaced.</p>
<p>Do your best to plan sensibly, but realize plans will sometimes go awry. There are very few places you will travel for an information security job where even these problems will be insurmountable or deadly. There are convenience stores, pharmacies, and Western Unions all over the world. Clothes can be replaced. Replacement credit cards can be overnight-ed to your hotel. Toiletries can be replaced. Cables and adapters can be same day delivered by Amazon. Even money, passports, and mobile phones can be replaced within a day in most places. Consider it a learning experience.</p>
<p>The first thing you must do when something goes massively awry is take a deep breath and <em>think</em>. The second thing you should do is contact the authorities if a crime has been committed. This may be local police, or your country&#8217;s consulate, or both. Your employer&#8217;s loss prevention, physical security, or travel team will probably be able to assist you with next steps. Your hotel can also provide assistance in many situations you might feel are impossible crises.</p>
<p>You can do this! Keep calm and carry on!</p>
<p><script async src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></p>

                    [category@term] => Hacking
                    [category#2@term] => hacking
                    [category#3@term] => security
                    [category#4@term] => Smart gadgets
                    [category#5@term] => technology
                    [date_timestamp] => 1573720000
                )

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                    [title#] => 1
                    [title] => Tips to Build an Outstanding Web Developer Portfolio
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                    [link] => http://hackstub.org/tips-to-build-an-outstanding-web-developer-portfolio/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tips-to-build-an-outstanding-web-developer-portfolio
                    [pubdate#] => 1
                    [pubdate] => Tue, 05 Nov 2019 06:49:38 +0000
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                            [subject#4] => portfolio
                            [subject#5] => website
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                    [category#] => 5
                    [category] => web development
                    [category#2] => clients
                    [category#3] => homepage
                    [category#4] => portfolio
                    [category#5] => website
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                    [description] => Coding a website for yourself is a whole lot different than creating one for a client. Plus, when this site acts as a representation...
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                            [encoded] => <p style="text-align: justify;">Coding a website for yourself is a whole lot different than creating one for a client. Plus, when this site acts as a representation of your work and everything you’re capable of, it’s tough to know how to make a portfolio that walks that fine line between being impressive and intuitive.</p>
<figure id="attachment_51" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-51" style="width: 600px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-51 size-full" src="http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/website-design.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="350" srcset="http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/website-design.jpg 600w, http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/website-design-300x175.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-51" class="wp-caption-text">Website Design</figcaption></figure>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Here are eight key tips to keep in mind when creating a web development portfolio for yourself.</p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;"><strong>1. Keep it simple.</strong></h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This is your chance to show that you really know your stuff—that absolutely anything that client requests, you’re capable of pulling it off.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">For that reason, it’s easy to fall into the trap of cramming your portfolio full with every available bell and whistle.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>But, ultimately, it’s far better to keep things on the simple side.</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Why? Well, you want your work to take center stage—and, that’s going to be tough if that prospective client can’t wade his or her way through all of those custom features you’ve added.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">You can still create a beautiful and impressive website without making it cluttered and complicated.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Resist the temptation to do things just because you can, and instead focus on the things that actually add value to your website. That’ll help you skip the unnecessary features and add-ons and instead keep the most important thing in the spotlight: your work.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Check out this beautifully simple web developer portfolio website created by Taylor Ho:</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">
<h3 style="text-align: justify;"><strong>2. Always remember user experience.</strong></h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">When developing websites for clients, there’s one thing that you always keep at the front of your mind: user experience.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">You want the site to be easy to read, use, and navigate. This <strong>same rule holds true when creating your own portfolio.</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">A lot of this has to do with your actual portfolio design—such as always making sure that text colors pop against the background shade or making calls to action stand out, for example.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">However, you should also make sure that you design your portfolio with a variety of devices in mind. That way, you can rest assured that your portfolio looks equally beautiful—whether it’s being viewed on a phone or a desktop.</p>
<blockquote><p>Want to know what many reviewers’ favorite thing to do with your portfolio is? We love opening your website and then immediately adjusting the browser window width back and forth,” shares James Rauhut in a post for FreeCodeCamp, “This tells us whether you give consideration to the plethora of devices your site could be browsed on.</p></blockquote>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Always keeping the experience of your user in mind not only makes your portfolio that much more impressive, but it also demonstrates that you emphasize that ever-important characteristic when coding other websites—which is something your prospective clients are going to look for.</p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;"><strong>3. Take advantage of your homepage.</strong></h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">You only get one chance to make a first impression, and this is exactly why the homepage of your web developer portfolio carries so much weight.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Believe it or not, people are going to form an impression of your website after only 50 milliseconds (yes, that’s a real measure of time!). So, your homepage needs to immediately make the following clear:</p>
<ul style="text-align: justify;">
<li>Who you are</li>
<li>What you do</li>
</ul>
<p style="text-align: justify;">When it comes to using images on your homepage, in that same Shopify blog post, Nick Babich suggests using a photo of yourself in order to add some personality to your site. Plus, it reminds people that they’re hiring an actual human—and not just a faceless developer behind a computer screen.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Just check out this online portfolio example to see how clear Sadok Cervantes is about who he is and what he does on his homepage:</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">
<h3 style="text-align: justify;"><strong>4. Don’t skip the details.</strong></h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The very purpose of your web developer portfolio is to showcase your work. For that reason, you figure that all people need to see is the final product.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">But, if you truly want to make an impression, don’t hesitate to dive deeper than that.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Talk about the process you went through to create that site or touch on the specific technologies and techniques you used. Mention any roadblocks or challenges you faced in creating that final product, as well as how you overcame them.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">And, if it isn’t proprietary, showcase the actual code.</p>
<blockquote><p>Without any opportunity to inspect your code, you’re making the reviewer’s job tougher,” says James Rauhut of the portfolios he’s reviewed, “We’ll struggle to know whether it’s worth our time to move you on to the next step in a recruiting process.</p></blockquote>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Think of it like needing to show your work in your high school math class. Yes, getting the right answer is one thing. But, people want to peek behind-the-scenes and see how you got there.</p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;"><strong>5. Be selective.</strong></h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">You’re proud of all of your work—and, that’s great. But, unfortunately, people are only going to spend 10-15 seconds reviewing your portfolio.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><em>Ouch, right?</em></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">But, that’s actually further incentive to make sure that you’re <strong>sharing your very best stuff</strong>—rather than every web development project dating back to 2008.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><em>So, how exactly can you determine what websites you should be highlighting in your portfolio?</em></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">When considering a specific project, ask yourself the following questions:</p>
<ul style="text-align: justify;">
<li>What specifically makes me proud of this web development project?</li>
<li>How does this project differ from the ones already showcased in my portfolio?</li>
<li>Am I willing to replace an existing portfolio piece with this one?</li>
</ul>
<p style="text-align: justify;">That sort of self-reflection will help you separate the wheat from the chaff and land on only the projects that are most deserving of a coveted place in your portfolio.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><b>PRO TIP:</b><strong> Set a regular reminder to review your own portfolio and make any necessary updates.</strong> As you know, the craft of web development is constantly changing. So, it’s a good idea to check and see if there are any better, more recent projects that should replace some older ones within your portfolio.</p>

                        )

                    [summary#] => 1
                    [summary] => Coding a website for yourself is a whole lot different than creating one for a client. Plus, when this site acts as a representation...
                    [atom_content#] => 1
                    [atom_content] => <p style="text-align: justify;">Coding a website for yourself is a whole lot different than creating one for a client. Plus, when this site acts as a representation of your work and everything you’re capable of, it’s tough to know how to make a portfolio that walks that fine line between being impressive and intuitive.</p>
<figure id="attachment_51" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-51" style="width: 600px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="wp-image-51 size-full" src="http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/website-design.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="350" srcset="http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/website-design.jpg 600w, http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/website-design-300x175.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-51" class="wp-caption-text">Website Design</figcaption></figure>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Here are eight key tips to keep in mind when creating a web development portfolio for yourself.</p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;"><strong>1. Keep it simple.</strong></h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This is your chance to show that you really know your stuff—that absolutely anything that client requests, you’re capable of pulling it off.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">For that reason, it’s easy to fall into the trap of cramming your portfolio full with every available bell and whistle.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>But, ultimately, it’s far better to keep things on the simple side.</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Why? Well, you want your work to take center stage—and, that’s going to be tough if that prospective client can’t wade his or her way through all of those custom features you’ve added.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">You can still create a beautiful and impressive website without making it cluttered and complicated.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Resist the temptation to do things just because you can, and instead focus on the things that actually add value to your website. That’ll help you skip the unnecessary features and add-ons and instead keep the most important thing in the spotlight: your work.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Check out this beautifully simple web developer portfolio website created by Taylor Ho:</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">
<h3 style="text-align: justify;"><strong>2. Always remember user experience.</strong></h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">When developing websites for clients, there’s one thing that you always keep at the front of your mind: user experience.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">You want the site to be easy to read, use, and navigate. This <strong>same rule holds true when creating your own portfolio.</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">A lot of this has to do with your actual portfolio design—such as always making sure that text colors pop against the background shade or making calls to action stand out, for example.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">However, you should also make sure that you design your portfolio with a variety of devices in mind. That way, you can rest assured that your portfolio looks equally beautiful—whether it’s being viewed on a phone or a desktop.</p>
<blockquote><p>Want to know what many reviewers’ favorite thing to do with your portfolio is? We love opening your website and then immediately adjusting the browser window width back and forth,” shares James Rauhut in a post for FreeCodeCamp, “This tells us whether you give consideration to the plethora of devices your site could be browsed on.</p></blockquote>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Always keeping the experience of your user in mind not only makes your portfolio that much more impressive, but it also demonstrates that you emphasize that ever-important characteristic when coding other websites—which is something your prospective clients are going to look for.</p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;"><strong>3. Take advantage of your homepage.</strong></h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">You only get one chance to make a first impression, and this is exactly why the homepage of your web developer portfolio carries so much weight.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Believe it or not, people are going to form an impression of your website after only 50 milliseconds (yes, that’s a real measure of time!). So, your homepage needs to immediately make the following clear:</p>
<ul style="text-align: justify;">
<li>Who you are</li>
<li>What you do</li>
</ul>
<p style="text-align: justify;">When it comes to using images on your homepage, in that same Shopify blog post, Nick Babich suggests using a photo of yourself in order to add some personality to your site. Plus, it reminds people that they’re hiring an actual human—and not just a faceless developer behind a computer screen.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Just check out this online portfolio example to see how clear Sadok Cervantes is about who he is and what he does on his homepage:</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">
<h3 style="text-align: justify;"><strong>4. Don’t skip the details.</strong></h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The very purpose of your web developer portfolio is to showcase your work. For that reason, you figure that all people need to see is the final product.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">But, if you truly want to make an impression, don’t hesitate to dive deeper than that.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Talk about the process you went through to create that site or touch on the specific technologies and techniques you used. Mention any roadblocks or challenges you faced in creating that final product, as well as how you overcame them.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">And, if it isn’t proprietary, showcase the actual code.</p>
<blockquote><p>Without any opportunity to inspect your code, you’re making the reviewer’s job tougher,” says James Rauhut of the portfolios he’s reviewed, “We’ll struggle to know whether it’s worth our time to move you on to the next step in a recruiting process.</p></blockquote>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Think of it like needing to show your work in your high school math class. Yes, getting the right answer is one thing. But, people want to peek behind-the-scenes and see how you got there.</p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;"><strong>5. Be selective.</strong></h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">You’re proud of all of your work—and, that’s great. But, unfortunately, people are only going to spend 10-15 seconds reviewing your portfolio.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><em>Ouch, right?</em></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">But, that’s actually further incentive to make sure that you’re <strong>sharing your very best stuff</strong>—rather than every web development project dating back to 2008.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><em>So, how exactly can you determine what websites you should be highlighting in your portfolio?</em></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">When considering a specific project, ask yourself the following questions:</p>
<ul style="text-align: justify;">
<li>What specifically makes me proud of this web development project?</li>
<li>How does this project differ from the ones already showcased in my portfolio?</li>
<li>Am I willing to replace an existing portfolio piece with this one?</li>
</ul>
<p style="text-align: justify;">That sort of self-reflection will help you separate the wheat from the chaff and land on only the projects that are most deserving of a coveted place in your portfolio.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><b>PRO TIP:</b><strong> Set a regular reminder to review your own portfolio and make any necessary updates.</strong> As you know, the craft of web development is constantly changing. So, it’s a good idea to check and see if there are any better, more recent projects that should replace some older ones within your portfolio.</p>

                    [category@term] => web development
                    [category#2@term] => clients
                    [category#3@term] => homepage
                    [category#4@term] => portfolio
                    [category#5@term] => website
                    [date_timestamp] => 1572936578
                )

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                (
                    [title#] => 1
                    [title] => Best Growth Hacking Tips
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                    [link] => http://hackstub.org/best-growth-hacking-tips/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=best-growth-hacking-tips
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                    [pubdate] => Sat, 02 Nov 2019 06:49:08 +0000
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                            [creator] => Gayatri
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                            [subject] => Hacking
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                        )

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                    [description] => When many business owners start planning for growth, they think: we need a marketing department. But nontraditional companies like Facebook have actually forgone a marketing department...
                    [content] => Array
                        (
                            [encoded#] => 1
                            [encoded] => <p style="text-align: justify;">When many business owners start planning for growth, they think: <i>we need a marketing department</i>.</p>
<p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-45 size-full" src="http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/1_y7axfakhUZM_QAC50hj_ZA.jpeg" alt="" width="1563" height="670" srcset="http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/1_y7axfakhUZM_QAC50hj_ZA.jpeg 1563w, http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/1_y7axfakhUZM_QAC50hj_ZA-300x129.jpeg 300w, http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/1_y7axfakhUZM_QAC50hj_ZA-768x329.jpeg 768w, http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/1_y7axfakhUZM_QAC50hj_ZA-1024x439.jpeg 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 1563px) 100vw, 1563px" /></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">But nontraditional companies like Facebook have actually forgone a marketing department in favor of a <b>growth department.</b> Growth hacking has helped startups achieve massive growth — and established brands and the bootstrapped alike can learn from their successes.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">That&#8217;s why we interviewed the growth hacker marketing expert himself on this week’s episode of the Marketing Cloudcast — the marketing podcast from Salesforce. Ryan Holiday (@ryanholiday) apprenticed under Robert Greene, author of <i>The 48 Laws of Power</i>, and served as director of marketing for American Apparel. He&#8217;s founder of Brass Check and has advised clients like Google, TASER, and Complex.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Ryan is also author of the #1 Amazon bestseller <i>Growth Hacker Marketing: </i><i>A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising</i>, as well as other books.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In other words, he&#8217;s a super smart guy. And even if you&#8217;re at a Fortune 100 company and not looking for funding, Ryan&#8217;s insights on marketing, product, and customer experience are still extremely important to hear.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">If you’re not yet a subscriber, check out the Marketing Cloudcast on iTunes, Google Play Music, or Stitcher.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Take a listen here:</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from this podcast about what your company can learn from the most growth-hacking startups.</p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;">1. Favor product and audience knowledge over traditional marketing skills.</h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Ryan defines growth hacking as &#8220;a mix of traditional marketing, direct marketing, and business and product development—all in one.” Because startups don’t have the budget to hire PR and marketing firms, they have to do all of these things in house.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">“This generation of startups that have blown up are companies that did all of their marketing themselves, and the people who did it had little to no marketing background,” says Ryan. Startups don’t have the luxury of thinking about the same things traditional marketers do or spending those types of budgets. It&#8217;s not about traditional marketing skills. It&#8217;s about people who know your product and audience better than anyone else.</p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;">2. Focus first on acquiring customers. Then make the product addictive.</h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">“Focus on acquiring users, first and foremost, because that’s what a startup needs to get investors. It’s about trackable and scalable growth. It’s all a startup can and should focus on,” says Ryan.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Instead of putting all of your energy into traditional marketing avenues that a Fortune 500 company would invest in, like pitching media and running ads, use that money and time to add value to your product.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In the early days of a growing business, Ryan says, “The best thing a company can do is make their product more addictive and add social sharing or virality into the experience.”</p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;">3. Be like Facebook: Evolve.</h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">As Ryan explains, startups that have successfully used growth hacking “provide lessons and case studies that bigger companies should look at.” He contrasts Twitter and Facebook.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Twitter has struggled to onboard new users, in large part because of the product&#8217;s lack of evolution. Ryan pointed out, “600-700 million people have signed up for Twitter, but they only have 300 million users. The Twitter I signed up for in 2007 is the same Twitter I use in 2016.”</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Whereas, with Facebook, the product is totally different from when it launched on college campuses in 2004. “[Facebook is] multiple apps — they’ve created a series of additional addictive features,” he explains.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">“It’s all about getting and keeping customers. If they’re coming in the front door and leaving through the back door, that’s bad marketing. That’s bad growth strategy,” says Ryan.</p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;">4. Avoid the divisions between product and marketing that stall growth.</h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">“The divide that ‘over here we make stuff&#8217; and &#8216;over here, when you’re done making it, we promote it’ — that’s a very destructive attitude,” Ryan says. Every product decision has marketing implications. “Marketers need to bring real expertise, knowledge, facts, and data to the table so that they can help product managers make those decisions,” says Ryan.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">By working together, companies can create products that fulfill a very real and compelling need. “When you really nail the product, the marketing is easy. It’s just about getting the word out,” says Ryan.</p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;">5. Don&#8217;t do it all. Do one thing well.</h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">If a company helps customers do something better, the brand and community come together easily. To make this happen, companies need to be intentional and deliberate. Ryan urges marketers to ask, “If we had to choose one platform where all our customers are, what would that be?” Focus on that one platform and “hit it out of the park there,” says Ryan.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Instead of trying to do it all, it’s better to do one thing exceptionally well. “When you’re constrained by time and resources, figure out what will be the most effective and start there,” he suggests.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">And that’s just scratching the surface of our conversation with Ryan Holiday. Get the complete scoop on growth hacking in this episode of the Marketing Cloudcast.</p>

                        )

                    [summary#] => 1
                    [summary] => When many business owners start planning for growth, they think: we need a marketing department. But nontraditional companies like Facebook have actually forgone a marketing department...
                    [atom_content#] => 1
                    [atom_content] => <p style="text-align: justify;">When many business owners start planning for growth, they think: <i>we need a marketing department</i>.</p>
<p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-45 size-full" src="http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/1_y7axfakhUZM_QAC50hj_ZA.jpeg" alt="" width="1563" height="670" srcset="http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/1_y7axfakhUZM_QAC50hj_ZA.jpeg 1563w, http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/1_y7axfakhUZM_QAC50hj_ZA-300x129.jpeg 300w, http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/1_y7axfakhUZM_QAC50hj_ZA-768x329.jpeg 768w, http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/1_y7axfakhUZM_QAC50hj_ZA-1024x439.jpeg 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 1563px) 100vw, 1563px" /></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">But nontraditional companies like Facebook have actually forgone a marketing department in favor of a <b>growth department.</b> Growth hacking has helped startups achieve massive growth — and established brands and the bootstrapped alike can learn from their successes.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">That&#8217;s why we interviewed the growth hacker marketing expert himself on this week’s episode of the Marketing Cloudcast — the marketing podcast from Salesforce. Ryan Holiday (@ryanholiday) apprenticed under Robert Greene, author of <i>The 48 Laws of Power</i>, and served as director of marketing for American Apparel. He&#8217;s founder of Brass Check and has advised clients like Google, TASER, and Complex.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Ryan is also author of the #1 Amazon bestseller <i>Growth Hacker Marketing: </i><i>A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising</i>, as well as other books.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In other words, he&#8217;s a super smart guy. And even if you&#8217;re at a Fortune 100 company and not looking for funding, Ryan&#8217;s insights on marketing, product, and customer experience are still extremely important to hear.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">If you’re not yet a subscriber, check out the Marketing Cloudcast on iTunes, Google Play Music, or Stitcher.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Take a listen here:</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from this podcast about what your company can learn from the most growth-hacking startups.</p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;">1. Favor product and audience knowledge over traditional marketing skills.</h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Ryan defines growth hacking as &#8220;a mix of traditional marketing, direct marketing, and business and product development—all in one.” Because startups don’t have the budget to hire PR and marketing firms, they have to do all of these things in house.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">“This generation of startups that have blown up are companies that did all of their marketing themselves, and the people who did it had little to no marketing background,” says Ryan. Startups don’t have the luxury of thinking about the same things traditional marketers do or spending those types of budgets. It&#8217;s not about traditional marketing skills. It&#8217;s about people who know your product and audience better than anyone else.</p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;">2. Focus first on acquiring customers. Then make the product addictive.</h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">“Focus on acquiring users, first and foremost, because that’s what a startup needs to get investors. It’s about trackable and scalable growth. It’s all a startup can and should focus on,” says Ryan.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Instead of putting all of your energy into traditional marketing avenues that a Fortune 500 company would invest in, like pitching media and running ads, use that money and time to add value to your product.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In the early days of a growing business, Ryan says, “The best thing a company can do is make their product more addictive and add social sharing or virality into the experience.”</p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;">3. Be like Facebook: Evolve.</h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">As Ryan explains, startups that have successfully used growth hacking “provide lessons and case studies that bigger companies should look at.” He contrasts Twitter and Facebook.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Twitter has struggled to onboard new users, in large part because of the product&#8217;s lack of evolution. Ryan pointed out, “600-700 million people have signed up for Twitter, but they only have 300 million users. The Twitter I signed up for in 2007 is the same Twitter I use in 2016.”</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Whereas, with Facebook, the product is totally different from when it launched on college campuses in 2004. “[Facebook is] multiple apps — they’ve created a series of additional addictive features,” he explains.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">“It’s all about getting and keeping customers. If they’re coming in the front door and leaving through the back door, that’s bad marketing. That’s bad growth strategy,” says Ryan.</p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;">4. Avoid the divisions between product and marketing that stall growth.</h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">“The divide that ‘over here we make stuff&#8217; and &#8216;over here, when you’re done making it, we promote it’ — that’s a very destructive attitude,” Ryan says. Every product decision has marketing implications. “Marketers need to bring real expertise, knowledge, facts, and data to the table so that they can help product managers make those decisions,” says Ryan.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">By working together, companies can create products that fulfill a very real and compelling need. “When you really nail the product, the marketing is easy. It’s just about getting the word out,” says Ryan.</p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;">5. Don&#8217;t do it all. Do one thing well.</h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">If a company helps customers do something better, the brand and community come together easily. To make this happen, companies need to be intentional and deliberate. Ryan urges marketers to ask, “If we had to choose one platform where all our customers are, what would that be?” Focus on that one platform and “hit it out of the park there,” says Ryan.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Instead of trying to do it all, it’s better to do one thing exceptionally well. “When you’re constrained by time and resources, figure out what will be the most effective and start there,” he suggests.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">And that’s just scratching the surface of our conversation with Ryan Holiday. Get the complete scoop on growth hacking in this episode of the Marketing Cloudcast.</p>

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                    [title] => The Infosec of Ready Player One – A Review
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                    [description] => A Ready Player One major motion picture directed by Steven Spielberg is scheduled for release in March 2018, resulting in a recent resurgence of...
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                            [encoded] => <p></p>
<p>A <em>Ready Player One</em> major motion picture directed by Steven Spielberg is scheduled for release in March 2018, resulting in a recent resurgence of popularity of the Ernest Cline cyberpunk novel which serves as its inspiration. So, this seems like as good a time as any for me to briefly revisit the 2011 novel and discuss my personal thoughts on the good, bad, and ugly of its information security content.</p>
<p>Despite an all-star crew (based a bit on extensive online <del>commentary </del>nerd rage from people who read early leaked scripts, but mostly based on the bombastic and wildly diverging contents of the trailer itself), I don&#8217;t have particularly high hopes for the movie to express the novel&#8217;s techno-philosophical depth in only a couple hours. Nonetheless, I hope to revisit it with the brilliantly apropos MayaofSansar of Linden Labs after release.</p>
<div class="jetpack-video-wrapper"></div>
<p>Firstly, let me make it abundantly clear that <strong>this blog is up to the elbows full of Ready Player One spoilers</strong>. If you haven&#8217;t read the book and have any desire at all to have the book&#8217;s twists and puzzles be a surprise, stop reading here. Really! I highly recommend you pick up a copy of the book. While I have a couple nits to pick with Cline&#8217;s character development and my personal interpretation of the plot, it is an iconic cyberpunk novel filled with unfortunately plausible social and technological predictions. It also contains references to pretty much every geek fandom and iconic classic game, ever, in it. Cool beans? Go forth to to Amazon.com and seek victory!</p>
<p> </p>
<p style="text-align:center">Okay. Now that they&#8217;re gone, fellow Gunters &#8211; let&#8217;s proceed!</p>
<p> </p>
<h2>IOI&#8217;s Infosec Sucks</h2>
<p>Let&#8217;s first discuss Parzival/Wade&#8217;s daring intrusion into the malevolent IOI mega-corporation&#8217;s network. As you probably recall, Wade has a limited period of days to abruptly become an (indentured) employee of IOI so he can access their corporate intranet from a terminal inside their offices. Once inside, he uses a series of black market exploits (which he purchases in advance from disgruntled employees) to escalate privileges and access his target sensitive Sixer team servers.</p>
<p><strong>What I found believable:</strong></p>
<p>From the perspective of an author in 2011, insider threats were a pretty timely topic. Wade isn&#8217;t the only insider that factors into his successful exfiltration of sensitive data. He purchases sensitive IOI network data and system exploits from the black market before he enters the facility &#8211; ostensibly from (reasonably) disgruntled network technicians. None of this is particularly implausible.</p>
<p>We see few specifics of the exploits and back doors that Wade uses in his espionage, but most of his physical and digital measures are &#8220;living off the land&#8221;-style abuse of sanctioned network and business operations. No malware is involved. This is generally a smart intrusion tactic.</p>
<p><strong>What I found less believable:</strong></p>
<p>1)<strong> The entire McGuffin of IOI&#8217;s network being effectively airgapped.</strong> Obviously, it provides pivotal drama to see Wade trapped inside a hostile, dystopian corporation conducting espionage. Nonetheless, we see evidence throughout the book that it&#8217;s simply not possible that IOI&#8217;s office systems are even close to disconnected from the internet / OASIS. Aside from fundamental business operations that go along with running a telecommunications company, we see the Sixers regularly logging into the OASIS. We also see Wade take constant external support chats in his assumed employee identity.</p>
<p>Cline falls back to the unfortunately ubiquitous cyberpunk trope of impenetrable firewalls. In reality, firewalls were already a legacy defense when the book was written in 2011 and today they&#8217;re evaded through phishing, malvertising, watering holes, and poor engineering far more often than they are directly exploited.</p>
<p>Wade could potentially have avoided his torturous week of indenturement with a well placed phish or some social engineering. That wouldn&#8217;t have made a great story, though. <img src="https://s0.wp.com/wp-content/mu-plugins/wpcom-smileys/twemoji/2/72x72/1f642.png" alt="&#x1f642;" class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em;max-height: 1em" /></p>
<p>2) <strong>IOI&#8217;s network security really sucks, even by 2011 standards.</strong> Certainly, Wade&#8217;s tactics would work in plenty of environments today, but it&#8217;s far less believable that they all work for a week without any detection at a massively powerful global technology corporation storing ultra-sensitive, incriminating data.</p>
<p>Let&#8217;s think about all the times Wade&#8217;s activity <em>should</em> have been detected by a competent security monitoring team:</p>
<ul>
<li>When he logged into his in-use sleeping quarters computer as a maintenance tech in the middle of the night, with no associated trouble ticket or physical entry.</li>
<li>When a privileged account was used from a sleeping quarters computer, regardless of the quality of privilege escalation Wade used to obtain access.</li>
<li>When he created new, highly privileged accounts on the IOI network.</li>
<li>When he accessed &#8220;crown jewel&#8221; ultra-sensitive Sixer servers from previously unknown administrative account, via a sleeping quarters computer.</li>
<li>When he inserted a removable drive without a known maintenance hardware ID into his sleeping quarters computer.</li>
<li>When he conducted a phenomenally massive transfer of sensitive files to a external drive across the network (it&#8217;s later equated to the size of the Library of Congress).</li>
<li>When he issues a network command for his ankle bracelet to release at night, in a sleeping unit, with no human or secondary check required.</li>
</ul>
<p><strong>We can actually learn a lot of solid infosec lessons from Wade&#8217;s intrusion</strong> and it&#8217;s consequently one of my favorite parts of the book. However, the premise that these well known attack vectors of 2017 are still not monitored in the most powerful corporation in the world in a technologically advanced 2044 is pretty unbearably dystopian for me. Raise a cheer, pessimistic friends!</p>
<h2>Holy Crap! Encryption Backdoors!</h2>
<p>Throughout the novel, GSS is presented as a relative bastion of corporate good in opposition to IOI&#8217;s faceless corporate greed. Indeed, for much of the novel, co-founder Ogden Morrow acts as a secret guardian for the Five. Morrow finally reveals himself when Art3mis, Parzival, and Aech, and Shoto are in dire straits on the run from IOI hired guns &#8211; by materializing as the Great Wizard Og inside Aech&#8217;s super-ultra-mega secret <em>encrypted</em> chatroom(!) While there&#8217;s some minor protest from the protagonists at this, it&#8217;s mostly glazed over in the book as administrative access exclusive to the GSS founders&#8217; accounts, therefore not a concern.</p>
<p><em>That&#8217;s not how any of this works.</em></p>
<p>If the Og and Anorak (and ultimately Parzival) avatars have exclusive access to privately encrypted chat rooms in the OASIS, that means that there is a functioning crypto backdoor for the OASIS chatroom software. Given IOI&#8217;s cutthroat study and exploitation of OASIS software and staff, a backdoor for the server&#8217;s encryption and the associated cryptographic weakness would have been a juicy target for Sorrento and his IOI superiors, putting all Gunters at risk. To top that off, Morrow maintained his backdoor access even after leaving GSS &#8211; a weakness GSS&#8217;s security team might not even be aware of.</p>
<h2>Wade&#8217;s Anti-Forensics</h2>
<p>Zeroizing <em>and</em> melting drives. Not bad, kid.</p>
<h2>Finding the Five</h2>
<p>At the climax of the novel, Sorrento and his IOI Sixer team track down the Five in real life, to bribe, kidnap, and eventually attempt to kill them as they become increasingly successful in the Hunt for Halliday&#8217;s Egg. Let&#8217;s spend a little time considering the implications of how each of the Five is located:</p>
<p>&#8211; <strong>Parzival</strong> is found because he makes a minor OPSEC mistake long before the contest begins (and he doesn&#8217;t draw this connection until it&#8217;s far too late). His private school transcripts, including his full home address, were linked to his OASIS account. IOI simply bribes a school adminstrator for the information after a rival student leaks the fact he&#8217;s in high school on a public message board. Of course, Wade improves his personal security substantially after this, creating and adopting a fake real-life identity.<br />
&#8211; <strong>Art3mis</strong>, <strong>Shoto</strong>, and <strong>Daito</strong> are presumably found and profiled a little later through a combination of similar OPSEC failures and their use of IOI subsidiary networks to connect to the OASIS. Services like anonymous VPNs don&#8217;t seem to exist in Cline&#8217;s 2044.  We might presume that Daito is the first one of them found as IOI operatives successfully murder him in his home during a critical battle.<br />
&#8211; <strong>Aech</strong> is the only one of the Five that IOI never successfully gains surveillance on. Helen&#8217;s unintentionally brilliant OPSEC includes her consistently faking her real name, race, and gender since childhood, even on school registration and among friends. She also lives in an RV and stays mobile, traveling from city to city. IOI is able to detect her logins on subsidiary wireless access points, but she moves too unpredictably for them to locate.</p>
<p>Once again, we have a portion of Ready Player One where Cline gives us quite a lot of food for thought about privacy and identity online in 2017 and beyond. The issue of internet service providers collecting browsing and location data and associating it us is an extremely relevant one today as debates over digital privacy and net neutrality rage globally. The potential abuse of internet activity data by advertising companies or by rogue employees certainly creates another incentive for privacy measures beyond simple TLS.</p>
<p>In addition, considering our OPSEC as our online personas, and the potential for those personas to be matched to our real life identities through legal or illegal means, is always timely.</p>
<h2>The Stunning Lack of Reversing and Exploitation</h2>
<p>There have been countless in-game and out-of-game MMORPG competitions in today&#8217;s world, with some substantial and coveted prizes and bounties at stake. However, nothing has ever come close in magnitude to the hunt for Halliday&#8217;s Egg. Competitive intelligence is real, and it&#8217;s not implausible that IOI would hire an entire staff and devote immense resources to winning the billions of dollars on the line.</p>
<p>What struck me as immersion-breaking unbelievable, throughout the book, was how little system exploitation was done in the course of the hunt. Decades of MMORPGs have built a multimillion dollar exploit, bot, and farming industry. There are minor mentions in the novel about GSS&#8217; measures to ban cheating players and the pretty dire real-world consequences of a lifetime ban on citizens. However, with the utterly insane money at stake in the Hunt and the extreme measures that IOI is willing to go to to win, my tactics would have been quite different as a vile and unscrupulous Sorrento. I would have hired an army of reverse engineers to analyze the OASIS code, resources, and databases, searching for unusual locations and items by keyword and statistical anomalies &#8211; aided by paid spies at GSS with access to the back-end servers. It&#8217;s really pretty difficult to hide an implemented item, character, or environmental elements inside the resources and indexes of a modern game. Simply locating instances of Anorak&#8217;s avatar and voice samples would have been invaluable to narrowing the search.</p>
<p>Essentially the only consistent exploitation we see in the game even by the most desperate characters is IOI hacking their local biometric authentication hardware as a means to share biometrically locked characters. The Sixers mostly play by a twisted interpretation of in-game rules.</p>
<p>Since the Sixers are still certainly breaking the EULA of the OASIS, this can&#8217;t simply be written off as them wishing to avoid nullification of a victory for cheating. They seem to skip a rather trivial corporate espionage step with their extensive resources, proceeding directly to kidnapping and murder in the real world.</p>
<h2>We&#8217;re STILL Using Unique One Word Handles in 2040??</h2>
<p>No, no we are not. Not unless everybody wants to be named like randomly generated passwords or Sixer IDs.</p>
<p><img data-attachment-id="3061" data-permalink="https://tisiphone.net/2017/11/06/the-infosec-of-ready-player-one-a-review/four_lights/#main" data-orig-file="https://hacks4pancakes.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/four_lights.jpg" data-orig-size="481,439" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;" data-image-title="Four_Lights" data-image-description="" data-medium-file="https://hacks4pancakes.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/four_lights.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://hacks4pancakes.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/four_lights.jpg?w=481" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-3061" src="https://hacks4pancakes.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/four_lights.jpg?w=730" alt="Four_Lights" /></p>
<hr />
<p>This was infosec-specific commentary in which I didn&#8217;t delve into the abundant online gaming implications of the OASIS multi-world system or the extreme complexity of quest and skill-level balancing between technological, magical, and physical skills. (Or the horrifying implications of professional avatar permadeath.) I&#8217;ll leave that blog for my gaming industry pals. I&#8217;d love to hear your thoughts and interpretations of Ready Player One and cybersecurity in the comments. Until next time!</p>
<p><img data-attachment-id="3121" data-permalink="https://tisiphone.net/2017/11/06/the-infosec-of-ready-player-one-a-review/rp1-2/#main" data-orig-file="https://hacks4pancakes.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/rp1.png" data-orig-size="1121,789" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;" data-image-title="rp1" data-image-description="" data-medium-file="https://hacks4pancakes.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/rp1.png?w=300" data-large-file="https://hacks4pancakes.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/rp1.png?w=730" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-3121" src="https://hacks4pancakes.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/rp1.png?w=730" alt="rp1" /></p>

                        )

                    [summary#] => 1
                    [summary] => A Ready Player One major motion picture directed by Steven Spielberg is scheduled for release in March 2018, resulting in a recent resurgence of...
                    [atom_content#] => 1
                    [atom_content] => <p></p>
<p>A <em>Ready Player One</em> major motion picture directed by Steven Spielberg is scheduled for release in March 2018, resulting in a recent resurgence of popularity of the Ernest Cline cyberpunk novel which serves as its inspiration. So, this seems like as good a time as any for me to briefly revisit the 2011 novel and discuss my personal thoughts on the good, bad, and ugly of its information security content.</p>
<p>Despite an all-star crew (based a bit on extensive online <del>commentary </del>nerd rage from people who read early leaked scripts, but mostly based on the bombastic and wildly diverging contents of the trailer itself), I don&#8217;t have particularly high hopes for the movie to express the novel&#8217;s techno-philosophical depth in only a couple hours. Nonetheless, I hope to revisit it with the brilliantly apropos MayaofSansar of Linden Labs after release.</p>
<div class="jetpack-video-wrapper"></div>
<p>Firstly, let me make it abundantly clear that <strong>this blog is up to the elbows full of Ready Player One spoilers</strong>. If you haven&#8217;t read the book and have any desire at all to have the book&#8217;s twists and puzzles be a surprise, stop reading here. Really! I highly recommend you pick up a copy of the book. While I have a couple nits to pick with Cline&#8217;s character development and my personal interpretation of the plot, it is an iconic cyberpunk novel filled with unfortunately plausible social and technological predictions. It also contains references to pretty much every geek fandom and iconic classic game, ever, in it. Cool beans? Go forth to to Amazon.com and seek victory!</p>
<p> </p>
<p style="text-align:center">Okay. Now that they&#8217;re gone, fellow Gunters &#8211; let&#8217;s proceed!</p>
<p> </p>
<h2>IOI&#8217;s Infosec Sucks</h2>
<p>Let&#8217;s first discuss Parzival/Wade&#8217;s daring intrusion into the malevolent IOI mega-corporation&#8217;s network. As you probably recall, Wade has a limited period of days to abruptly become an (indentured) employee of IOI so he can access their corporate intranet from a terminal inside their offices. Once inside, he uses a series of black market exploits (which he purchases in advance from disgruntled employees) to escalate privileges and access his target sensitive Sixer team servers.</p>
<p><strong>What I found believable:</strong></p>
<p>From the perspective of an author in 2011, insider threats were a pretty timely topic. Wade isn&#8217;t the only insider that factors into his successful exfiltration of sensitive data. He purchases sensitive IOI network data and system exploits from the black market before he enters the facility &#8211; ostensibly from (reasonably) disgruntled network technicians. None of this is particularly implausible.</p>
<p>We see few specifics of the exploits and back doors that Wade uses in his espionage, but most of his physical and digital measures are &#8220;living off the land&#8221;-style abuse of sanctioned network and business operations. No malware is involved. This is generally a smart intrusion tactic.</p>
<p><strong>What I found less believable:</strong></p>
<p>1)<strong> The entire McGuffin of IOI&#8217;s network being effectively airgapped.</strong> Obviously, it provides pivotal drama to see Wade trapped inside a hostile, dystopian corporation conducting espionage. Nonetheless, we see evidence throughout the book that it&#8217;s simply not possible that IOI&#8217;s office systems are even close to disconnected from the internet / OASIS. Aside from fundamental business operations that go along with running a telecommunications company, we see the Sixers regularly logging into the OASIS. We also see Wade take constant external support chats in his assumed employee identity.</p>
<p>Cline falls back to the unfortunately ubiquitous cyberpunk trope of impenetrable firewalls. In reality, firewalls were already a legacy defense when the book was written in 2011 and today they&#8217;re evaded through phishing, malvertising, watering holes, and poor engineering far more often than they are directly exploited.</p>
<p>Wade could potentially have avoided his torturous week of indenturement with a well placed phish or some social engineering. That wouldn&#8217;t have made a great story, though. <img src="https://s0.wp.com/wp-content/mu-plugins/wpcom-smileys/twemoji/2/72x72/1f642.png" alt="&#x1f642;" class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em;max-height: 1em" /></p>
<p>2) <strong>IOI&#8217;s network security really sucks, even by 2011 standards.</strong> Certainly, Wade&#8217;s tactics would work in plenty of environments today, but it&#8217;s far less believable that they all work for a week without any detection at a massively powerful global technology corporation storing ultra-sensitive, incriminating data.</p>
<p>Let&#8217;s think about all the times Wade&#8217;s activity <em>should</em> have been detected by a competent security monitoring team:</p>
<ul>
<li>When he logged into his in-use sleeping quarters computer as a maintenance tech in the middle of the night, with no associated trouble ticket or physical entry.</li>
<li>When a privileged account was used from a sleeping quarters computer, regardless of the quality of privilege escalation Wade used to obtain access.</li>
<li>When he created new, highly privileged accounts on the IOI network.</li>
<li>When he accessed &#8220;crown jewel&#8221; ultra-sensitive Sixer servers from previously unknown administrative account, via a sleeping quarters computer.</li>
<li>When he inserted a removable drive without a known maintenance hardware ID into his sleeping quarters computer.</li>
<li>When he conducted a phenomenally massive transfer of sensitive files to a external drive across the network (it&#8217;s later equated to the size of the Library of Congress).</li>
<li>When he issues a network command for his ankle bracelet to release at night, in a sleeping unit, with no human or secondary check required.</li>
</ul>
<p><strong>We can actually learn a lot of solid infosec lessons from Wade&#8217;s intrusion</strong> and it&#8217;s consequently one of my favorite parts of the book. However, the premise that these well known attack vectors of 2017 are still not monitored in the most powerful corporation in the world in a technologically advanced 2044 is pretty unbearably dystopian for me. Raise a cheer, pessimistic friends!</p>
<h2>Holy Crap! Encryption Backdoors!</h2>
<p>Throughout the novel, GSS is presented as a relative bastion of corporate good in opposition to IOI&#8217;s faceless corporate greed. Indeed, for much of the novel, co-founder Ogden Morrow acts as a secret guardian for the Five. Morrow finally reveals himself when Art3mis, Parzival, and Aech, and Shoto are in dire straits on the run from IOI hired guns &#8211; by materializing as the Great Wizard Og inside Aech&#8217;s super-ultra-mega secret <em>encrypted</em> chatroom(!) While there&#8217;s some minor protest from the protagonists at this, it&#8217;s mostly glazed over in the book as administrative access exclusive to the GSS founders&#8217; accounts, therefore not a concern.</p>
<p><em>That&#8217;s not how any of this works.</em></p>
<p>If the Og and Anorak (and ultimately Parzival) avatars have exclusive access to privately encrypted chat rooms in the OASIS, that means that there is a functioning crypto backdoor for the OASIS chatroom software. Given IOI&#8217;s cutthroat study and exploitation of OASIS software and staff, a backdoor for the server&#8217;s encryption and the associated cryptographic weakness would have been a juicy target for Sorrento and his IOI superiors, putting all Gunters at risk. To top that off, Morrow maintained his backdoor access even after leaving GSS &#8211; a weakness GSS&#8217;s security team might not even be aware of.</p>
<h2>Wade&#8217;s Anti-Forensics</h2>
<p>Zeroizing <em>and</em> melting drives. Not bad, kid.</p>
<h2>Finding the Five</h2>
<p>At the climax of the novel, Sorrento and his IOI Sixer team track down the Five in real life, to bribe, kidnap, and eventually attempt to kill them as they become increasingly successful in the Hunt for Halliday&#8217;s Egg. Let&#8217;s spend a little time considering the implications of how each of the Five is located:</p>
<p>&#8211; <strong>Parzival</strong> is found because he makes a minor OPSEC mistake long before the contest begins (and he doesn&#8217;t draw this connection until it&#8217;s far too late). His private school transcripts, including his full home address, were linked to his OASIS account. IOI simply bribes a school adminstrator for the information after a rival student leaks the fact he&#8217;s in high school on a public message board. Of course, Wade improves his personal security substantially after this, creating and adopting a fake real-life identity.<br />
&#8211; <strong>Art3mis</strong>, <strong>Shoto</strong>, and <strong>Daito</strong> are presumably found and profiled a little later through a combination of similar OPSEC failures and their use of IOI subsidiary networks to connect to the OASIS. Services like anonymous VPNs don&#8217;t seem to exist in Cline&#8217;s 2044.  We might presume that Daito is the first one of them found as IOI operatives successfully murder him in his home during a critical battle.<br />
&#8211; <strong>Aech</strong> is the only one of the Five that IOI never successfully gains surveillance on. Helen&#8217;s unintentionally brilliant OPSEC includes her consistently faking her real name, race, and gender since childhood, even on school registration and among friends. She also lives in an RV and stays mobile, traveling from city to city. IOI is able to detect her logins on subsidiary wireless access points, but she moves too unpredictably for them to locate.</p>
<p>Once again, we have a portion of Ready Player One where Cline gives us quite a lot of food for thought about privacy and identity online in 2017 and beyond. The issue of internet service providers collecting browsing and location data and associating it us is an extremely relevant one today as debates over digital privacy and net neutrality rage globally. The potential abuse of internet activity data by advertising companies or by rogue employees certainly creates another incentive for privacy measures beyond simple TLS.</p>
<p>In addition, considering our OPSEC as our online personas, and the potential for those personas to be matched to our real life identities through legal or illegal means, is always timely.</p>
<h2>The Stunning Lack of Reversing and Exploitation</h2>
<p>There have been countless in-game and out-of-game MMORPG competitions in today&#8217;s world, with some substantial and coveted prizes and bounties at stake. However, nothing has ever come close in magnitude to the hunt for Halliday&#8217;s Egg. Competitive intelligence is real, and it&#8217;s not implausible that IOI would hire an entire staff and devote immense resources to winning the billions of dollars on the line.</p>
<p>What struck me as immersion-breaking unbelievable, throughout the book, was how little system exploitation was done in the course of the hunt. Decades of MMORPGs have built a multimillion dollar exploit, bot, and farming industry. There are minor mentions in the novel about GSS&#8217; measures to ban cheating players and the pretty dire real-world consequences of a lifetime ban on citizens. However, with the utterly insane money at stake in the Hunt and the extreme measures that IOI is willing to go to to win, my tactics would have been quite different as a vile and unscrupulous Sorrento. I would have hired an army of reverse engineers to analyze the OASIS code, resources, and databases, searching for unusual locations and items by keyword and statistical anomalies &#8211; aided by paid spies at GSS with access to the back-end servers. It&#8217;s really pretty difficult to hide an implemented item, character, or environmental elements inside the resources and indexes of a modern game. Simply locating instances of Anorak&#8217;s avatar and voice samples would have been invaluable to narrowing the search.</p>
<p>Essentially the only consistent exploitation we see in the game even by the most desperate characters is IOI hacking their local biometric authentication hardware as a means to share biometrically locked characters. The Sixers mostly play by a twisted interpretation of in-game rules.</p>
<p>Since the Sixers are still certainly breaking the EULA of the OASIS, this can&#8217;t simply be written off as them wishing to avoid nullification of a victory for cheating. They seem to skip a rather trivial corporate espionage step with their extensive resources, proceeding directly to kidnapping and murder in the real world.</p>
<h2>We&#8217;re STILL Using Unique One Word Handles in 2040??</h2>
<p>No, no we are not. Not unless everybody wants to be named like randomly generated passwords or Sixer IDs.</p>
<p><img data-attachment-id="3061" data-permalink="https://tisiphone.net/2017/11/06/the-infosec-of-ready-player-one-a-review/four_lights/#main" data-orig-file="https://hacks4pancakes.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/four_lights.jpg" data-orig-size="481,439" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;" data-image-title="Four_Lights" data-image-description="" data-medium-file="https://hacks4pancakes.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/four_lights.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://hacks4pancakes.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/four_lights.jpg?w=481" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-3061" src="https://hacks4pancakes.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/four_lights.jpg?w=730" alt="Four_Lights" /></p>
<hr />
<p>This was infosec-specific commentary in which I didn&#8217;t delve into the abundant online gaming implications of the OASIS multi-world system or the extreme complexity of quest and skill-level balancing between technological, magical, and physical skills. (Or the horrifying implications of professional avatar permadeath.) I&#8217;ll leave that blog for my gaming industry pals. I&#8217;d love to hear your thoughts and interpretations of Ready Player One and cybersecurity in the comments. Until next time!</p>
<p><img data-attachment-id="3121" data-permalink="https://tisiphone.net/2017/11/06/the-infosec-of-ready-player-one-a-review/rp1-2/#main" data-orig-file="https://hacks4pancakes.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/rp1.png" data-orig-size="1121,789" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;" data-image-title="rp1" data-image-description="" data-medium-file="https://hacks4pancakes.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/rp1.png?w=300" data-large-file="https://hacks4pancakes.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/rp1.png?w=730" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-3121" src="https://hacks4pancakes.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/rp1.png?w=730" alt="rp1" /></p>

                    [category@term] => Hacking
                    [category#2@term] => hacking
                    [category#3@term] => security
                    [category#4@term] => Smart gadgets
                    [category#5@term] => technology
                    [date_timestamp] => 1572507599
                )

            [7] => Array
                (
                    [title#] => 1
                    [title] => Best Tracking Apps Android
                    [link#] => 1
                    [link] => http://hackstub.org/best-tracking-apps-android/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=best-tracking-apps-android
                    [pubdate#] => 1
                    [pubdate] => Thu, 31 Oct 2019 07:34:34 +0000
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                            [creator] => Gayatri
                            [subject#] => 5
                            [subject] => web development
                            [subject#2] => browser history
                            [subject#3] => call logs
                            [subject#4] => contacts
                            [subject#5] => text messages
                        )

                    [category#] => 5
                    [category] => web development
                    [category#2] => browser history
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                    [description] => Technology has made lives better in various areas. And various web-based applications are being developed to cater to the specific needs of the people...
                    [content] => Array
                        (
                            [encoded#] => 1
                            [encoded] => <p style="text-align: justify;">Technology has made lives better in various areas. And various web-based applications are being developed to cater to the specific needs of the people of our country. technology has also kept parents busy at work. To ensure children are safe when they are away from home or in a public space many Apps have been developed to cater to this need. The phone tracking apps have also been used by business owners who want to track their employees at work. Here are a few<strong> best tracking apps android</strong>.</p>
<p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-60 size-full" src="http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Top-10-Best-Tracking-Apps-for-Android-1280x720.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" srcset="http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Top-10-Best-Tracking-Apps-for-Android-1280x720.jpg 1280w, http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Top-10-Best-Tracking-Apps-for-Android-1280x720-300x169.jpg 300w, http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Top-10-Best-Tracking-Apps-for-Android-1280x720-768x432.jpg 768w, http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Top-10-Best-Tracking-Apps-for-Android-1280x720-1024x576.jpg 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 1280px) 100vw, 1280px" /></p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;">
1. Mobicip</h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This is one of the applications that has been developed to provide a safe environment for children as they browse the web. It provides efficient web filters and also blocks an unsafe domain, websites and apps. It also has a scheduling feature to limit Android phone usage. The easy, simple setup and the free version is an advantage. It lacks in providing customized monitoring and tracking features. The premium plan is available for $39.99 a year for five devices and $79.98 for 10 devices.</p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;">2. Highster Mobile Tracking</h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">It created quite a good popularity at its launch. Its unique selling features is what makes it face competition. It offers to track your text messages, call logs, contacts, browser history etc. It also efficiently monitors all social media platforms. You can also track your target devices live and the GPS location too. You can avail this tracking App at $70, a one time fee.</p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;">3. Spyzie</h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This tracking app is also one of the <strong>best tracking apps android</strong>. The best features are that it enables you to get the details of the target device to monitor remotely. You can also track their locations, text messages, call history, contacts, and social media apps. The screen capture feature, call recording features and keylogger features to make it the best option for a tracking app. You can avail this app for $89.88 a year and the premium will cost you $99.99 a year.</p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;">4. FamiSafe Android Tracking</h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The FamiSafe is one among the most reliable tracking apps. The advanced, real-time tracking features enable the users to effectively control children activities and that of adults too. It offers the real-time location of along with the history, sets a safe perimeter with the help of Geofencing. It can monitor and block all the applications on the android phone. You can easily filter the websites and the content. The screen time tracking feature also helps to minimise the phone use time. You can avail this App at $9.99 a month, quarterly for $19.99 and yearly for $59.99.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">
The above apps are just a few <strong>best tracking apps android</strong>. You can also try mSpy, Mobile Spy, Flexispy, Spyera and XNSPY etc. These Apps offer great comfort and security when you think the environment is unknown or new to you.</p>

                        )

                    [summary#] => 1
                    [summary] => Technology has made lives better in various areas. And various web-based applications are being developed to cater to the specific needs of the people...
                    [atom_content#] => 1
                    [atom_content] => <p style="text-align: justify;">Technology has made lives better in various areas. And various web-based applications are being developed to cater to the specific needs of the people of our country. technology has also kept parents busy at work. To ensure children are safe when they are away from home or in a public space many Apps have been developed to cater to this need. The phone tracking apps have also been used by business owners who want to track their employees at work. Here are a few<strong> best tracking apps android</strong>.</p>
<p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-60 size-full" src="http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Top-10-Best-Tracking-Apps-for-Android-1280x720.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" srcset="http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Top-10-Best-Tracking-Apps-for-Android-1280x720.jpg 1280w, http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Top-10-Best-Tracking-Apps-for-Android-1280x720-300x169.jpg 300w, http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Top-10-Best-Tracking-Apps-for-Android-1280x720-768x432.jpg 768w, http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Top-10-Best-Tracking-Apps-for-Android-1280x720-1024x576.jpg 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 1280px) 100vw, 1280px" /></p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;">
1. Mobicip</h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This is one of the applications that has been developed to provide a safe environment for children as they browse the web. It provides efficient web filters and also blocks an unsafe domain, websites and apps. It also has a scheduling feature to limit Android phone usage. The easy, simple setup and the free version is an advantage. It lacks in providing customized monitoring and tracking features. The premium plan is available for $39.99 a year for five devices and $79.98 for 10 devices.</p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;">2. Highster Mobile Tracking</h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">It created quite a good popularity at its launch. Its unique selling features is what makes it face competition. It offers to track your text messages, call logs, contacts, browser history etc. It also efficiently monitors all social media platforms. You can also track your target devices live and the GPS location too. You can avail this tracking App at $70, a one time fee.</p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;">3. Spyzie</h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This tracking app is also one of the <strong>best tracking apps android</strong>. The best features are that it enables you to get the details of the target device to monitor remotely. You can also track their locations, text messages, call history, contacts, and social media apps. The screen capture feature, call recording features and keylogger features to make it the best option for a tracking app. You can avail this app for $89.88 a year and the premium will cost you $99.99 a year.</p>
<h3 style="text-align: justify;">4. FamiSafe Android Tracking</h3>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The FamiSafe is one among the most reliable tracking apps. The advanced, real-time tracking features enable the users to effectively control children activities and that of adults too. It offers the real-time location of along with the history, sets a safe perimeter with the help of Geofencing. It can monitor and block all the applications on the android phone. You can easily filter the websites and the content. The screen time tracking feature also helps to minimise the phone use time. You can avail this App at $9.99 a month, quarterly for $19.99 and yearly for $59.99.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">
The above apps are just a few <strong>best tracking apps android</strong>. You can also try mSpy, Mobile Spy, Flexispy, Spyera and XNSPY etc. These Apps offer great comfort and security when you think the environment is unknown or new to you.</p>

                    [category@term] => web development
                    [category#2@term] => browser history
                    [category#3@term] => call logs
                    [category#4@term] => contacts
                    [category#5@term] => text messages
                    [date_timestamp] => 1572507274
                )

            [8] => Array
                (
                    [title#] => 1
                    [title] => TIPS TO CHOOSE THE BEST WEB DEVELOPMENT AGENCY
                    [link#] => 1
                    [link] => http://hackstub.org/tips-to-choose-the-best-web-development-agency/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tips-to-choose-the-best-web-development-agency
                    [pubdate#] => 1
                    [pubdate] => Thu, 19 Sep 2019 06:49:09 +0000
                    [dc] => Array
                        (
                            [creator#] => 1
                            [creator] => Gayatri
                            [subject#] => 4
                            [subject] => web development
                            [subject#2] => industry practices
                            [subject#3] => long term relations
                            [subject#4] => Portfolios
                        )

                    [category#] => 4
                    [category] => web development
                    [category#2] => industry practices
                    [category#3] => long term relations
                    [category#4] => Portfolios
                    [guid#] => 1
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                    [guid] => http://hackstub.org/?p=32
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                    [description] => while launching it online there is first need of the best web Development Company that offers the best design and development services that can...
                    [content] => Array
                        (
                            [encoded#] => 1
                            [encoded] => <p style="text-align: justify;">while launching it online there is first need of the best web Development Company that offers the best design and development services that can add advantage to your business.</p>
<p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-48 size-full" src="http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Tips-to-Choose-the-Best-E-commerce-Web-Design-Company.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="400" srcset="http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Tips-to-Choose-the-Best-E-commerce-Web-Design-Company.jpg 600w, http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Tips-to-Choose-the-Best-E-commerce-Web-Design-Company-300x200.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Website must be interactive and effective to knock the mind of visitors who tends to stay only for 52 seconds on particular site and you have only 4 seconds to put positive impression on their minds.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">So to eradicate the problem of bouncing back of the visitors you need the best and reputed web development company that can provide your effective web design to boost up traffic and retain it on your site.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">If you are seeking for higher ranks on Google page and want to spread your business online then be aware about some things while choosing web development company.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>How impressive is company’s own site</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">First thing to notice is the company’s own site of it seems impressive to you then only you should think for hiring it otherwise company that cannot deliver for itself how it can make impressive site for you?</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Strategies to fulfill your requirements</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">While conversing with the company you must deliver your requirements like</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">What is your business?</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Are you product seller or service provider?</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">What is your purpose for the creating website?</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">After it you must be aware that company has understand your requirements and what are their strategies for the generating the web plan and how they fulfill your all requirements</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Check for the authenticity</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">You must check the credentials of the company before joining hands with it as there are various companies that are fake and can mislead you.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">So you must check for the existence of this company with the help of internet by searching about its profile, mission and services.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>How it works?</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">You must be aware about working culture of the web development company that how they will serve you the best means you must ask for the team that is going to work on your project and duration for the project completion and even communication for the project completion between you and company.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>It’s core competency</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Competitive edges of any company can add advantage to its reputation and work so you should be aware about companies strengths and weakness like how professional they are, skills of developers and their digital marketing strategies for your business.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Check testimonials</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">You may check the testimonials of the past clients of company and can inquire for the work and services they usually offer As testimonials speak for the performance and services of agency.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Cost and quality of website</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">There are various web development agencies that claim for the best services in less cost but you must check for the ongoing cost of your project and quality that they provide.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">There must be cost advantage but without compromising for the quality of website design.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Portfolios of company</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">While choosing web development agency portfolios can be checked to know about its major projects and their effectiveness.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Does it works for long term relations?</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">While doing project good company works for the long term relations with its clients so is the company is offering values for its words and reliability then you have taken right decision otherwise some companies are there that make projects and run away.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Best industry practices</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Make sure that company is working with the best industry practices to fulfill the requirements of its clients so that you can get not only best but interactive design for your website.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">After checking these tips you can choose <strong>FLY MEDIA TECHNOLOGY LTD</strong> web Development Company based in India offering web design and development services having national and international clients.</p>

                        )

                    [summary#] => 1
                    [summary] => while launching it online there is first need of the best web Development Company that offers the best design and development services that can...
                    [atom_content#] => 1
                    [atom_content] => <p style="text-align: justify;">while launching it online there is first need of the best web Development Company that offers the best design and development services that can add advantage to your business.</p>
<p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-48 size-full" src="http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Tips-to-Choose-the-Best-E-commerce-Web-Design-Company.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="400" srcset="http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Tips-to-Choose-the-Best-E-commerce-Web-Design-Company.jpg 600w, http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Tips-to-Choose-the-Best-E-commerce-Web-Design-Company-300x200.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Website must be interactive and effective to knock the mind of visitors who tends to stay only for 52 seconds on particular site and you have only 4 seconds to put positive impression on their minds.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">So to eradicate the problem of bouncing back of the visitors you need the best and reputed web development company that can provide your effective web design to boost up traffic and retain it on your site.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">If you are seeking for higher ranks on Google page and want to spread your business online then be aware about some things while choosing web development company.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>How impressive is company’s own site</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">First thing to notice is the company’s own site of it seems impressive to you then only you should think for hiring it otherwise company that cannot deliver for itself how it can make impressive site for you?</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Strategies to fulfill your requirements</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">While conversing with the company you must deliver your requirements like</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">What is your business?</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Are you product seller or service provider?</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">What is your purpose for the creating website?</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">After it you must be aware that company has understand your requirements and what are their strategies for the generating the web plan and how they fulfill your all requirements</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Check for the authenticity</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">You must check the credentials of the company before joining hands with it as there are various companies that are fake and can mislead you.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">So you must check for the existence of this company with the help of internet by searching about its profile, mission and services.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>How it works?</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">You must be aware about working culture of the web development company that how they will serve you the best means you must ask for the team that is going to work on your project and duration for the project completion and even communication for the project completion between you and company.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>It’s core competency</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Competitive edges of any company can add advantage to its reputation and work so you should be aware about companies strengths and weakness like how professional they are, skills of developers and their digital marketing strategies for your business.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Check testimonials</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">You may check the testimonials of the past clients of company and can inquire for the work and services they usually offer As testimonials speak for the performance and services of agency.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Cost and quality of website</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">There are various web development agencies that claim for the best services in less cost but you must check for the ongoing cost of your project and quality that they provide.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">There must be cost advantage but without compromising for the quality of website design.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Portfolios of company</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">While choosing web development agency portfolios can be checked to know about its major projects and their effectiveness.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Does it works for long term relations?</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">While doing project good company works for the long term relations with its clients so is the company is offering values for its words and reliability then you have taken right decision otherwise some companies are there that make projects and run away.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Best industry practices</strong></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Make sure that company is working with the best industry practices to fulfill the requirements of its clients so that you can get not only best but interactive design for your website.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">After checking these tips you can choose <strong>FLY MEDIA TECHNOLOGY LTD</strong> web Development Company based in India offering web design and development services having national and international clients.</p>

                    [category@term] => web development
                    [category#2@term] => industry practices
                    [category#3@term] => long term relations
                    [category#4@term] => Portfolios
                    [date_timestamp] => 1568875749
                )

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                (
                    [title#] => 1
                    [title] => Tips to Harden Your Kiosk Security
                    [link#] => 1
                    [link] => http://hackstub.org/tips-to-harden-your-kiosk-security/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tips-to-harden-your-kiosk-security
                    [pubdate#] => 1
                    [pubdate] => Wed, 21 Aug 2019 06:49:06 +0000
                    [dc] => Array
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                            [creator] => Gayatri
                            [subject#] => 5
                            [subject] => Hacking
                            [subject#2] => cardholder
                            [subject#3] => hackers
                            [subject#4] => kiosk
                            [subject#5] => websites
                        )

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                    [description] => Many of these kiosk hardening techniques involves functional changes to your kiosk application, so you’ll need to get your developers involved. Prevent PIN theft...
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                        (
                            [encoded#] => 1
                            [encoded] => <p id="8a2b" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Many of these kiosk hardening techniques involves functional changes to your kiosk application, so you’ll need to get your developers involved.</p>
<p data-selectable-paragraph=""><img class="aligncenter wp-image-41 size-full" src="http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/micsoroft_windows_logo_on_a_security_shield_in_a_field_of_abstract_binary_data_by_arkadiusz_wargua_gettyimages-1126779135_2400x1600-100798021-large.jpg" alt="" width="1200" height="800" srcset="http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/micsoroft_windows_logo_on_a_security_shield_in_a_field_of_abstract_binary_data_by_arkadiusz_wargua_gettyimages-1126779135_2400x1600-100798021-large.jpg 1200w, http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/micsoroft_windows_logo_on_a_security_shield_in_a_field_of_abstract_binary_data_by_arkadiusz_wargua_gettyimages-1126779135_2400x1600-100798021-large-300x200.jpg 300w, http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/micsoroft_windows_logo_on_a_security_shield_in_a_field_of_abstract_binary_data_by_arkadiusz_wargua_gettyimages-1126779135_2400x1600-100798021-large-768x512.jpg 768w, http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/micsoroft_windows_logo_on_a_security_shield_in_a_field_of_abstract_binary_data_by_arkadiusz_wargua_gettyimages-1126779135_2400x1600-100798021-large-1024x683.jpg 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 1200px) 100vw, 1200px" /></p>
<h1 id="a7a9" class="gi gj dc bk bj gk gl gm gn go gp gq gr gs gt gu gv" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Prevent PIN theft</h1>
<p id="3e02" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm gw fo gx fq gy fs gz fu ha fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">It’s frighteningly easy to steal someone’s PIN number using an iPhone and a thermal camera.</p>
<p id="6473" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Flir makes one such thermal mobile camera that can be used to easily determine the PIN number someone entered.</p>
<p id="df3c" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">The following video demonstrates this technique and explains how metal PIN pads, like those commonly found on ATMs, can be used to prevent PIN theft.</p>
<h1 id="62f2" class="gi gj dc bk bj gk gl gm gn go gp gq gr gs gt gu gv" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Password protect the BIOS</h1>
<blockquote class="hc hd he">
<p id="c890" class="fj fk dc hf fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" data-selectable-paragraph="">The BIOS firmware comes pre-installed on a personal computer‘s system board, and it is the first software to run when powered on.</p>
<p id="8dc8" class="fj fk dc hf fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" data-selectable-paragraph="">Wikipedia</p>
</blockquote>
<p id="d6dc" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">The BIOS is the first screen that appears when your computer boots and determines the boot order, among other things. From a security standpoint this is of particular concern because we don’t want a hacker to be able to reconfigure the computer to boot from a USB drive, or other media, instead of the kiosk’s hard drive.</p>
<p id="befb" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Booting from another media would allow the attacker to run malware instead of the kiosk’s operating system. Fortunately, protecting the BIOS is simply a matter of configuring a password so the BIOS settings cannot be modified.</p>
<p id="09ed" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Here’s a tutorial video of how-to password protect your BIOS.</p>
<figure class="er es et eu ev eq" style="text-align: justify;">
<div class="fb r fc">
<div class="hb r"></div>
</div><figcaption class="bo du gc gd ge cn cl cm gf gg bj dt"><em class="gh">Tutorial video of how-to password protect your BIOS</em></figcaption></figure>
<h1 id="eed0" class="gi gj dc bk bj gk gl gm gn go gp gq gr gs gt gu gv" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Restrict keyboard input</h1>
<p id="de21" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm gw fo gx fq gy fs gz fu ha fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">The operating system has many keyboard shortcuts that will allow an attacker to exit out of your kiosk application and access the desktop.</p>
<p id="15eb" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">There are many such hotkeys (i.e. Ctrl-Alt-Del in Windows) and we want to restrict the keyboard input to prevent a hacker from exiting your kiosk application.</p>
<p id="cbe7" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Avoid the use of a physical keyboard when possible and instead opt for an onscreen keyboard with the system keys removed.</p>
<p id="7e0d" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">As an added layer of security, you can use a keyboard filter driver to filter out system hotkeys.</p>
<h1 id="9fab" class="gi gj dc bk bj gk gl gm gn go gp gq gr gs gt gu gv" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Prevent the mouse right-click</h1>
<p id="1076" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm gw fo gx fq gy fs gz fu ha fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Right clicking the mouse will prompt the user with a series of options. Some of which could be used to close or compromise your kiosk application. This is particularly true if your kiosk is running a web browser.</p>
<p id="c74b" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Limiting the user to only clicking the left mouse button will help mitigate this risk.</p>
<p id="b5ee" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">The easiest way to achieve this is by having your kiosk application filter or ignore the right mouse click.</p>
<h1 id="c655" class="gi gj dc bk bj gk gl gm gn go gp gq gr gs gt gu gv" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Block physical access to USB ports</h1>
<p id="8958" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm gw fo gx fq gy fs gz fu ha fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">By allowing a hacker access to the USB ports they can potentially load malware to hijack your kiosk.</p>
<p id="7d7b" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">The following video explains how BadUSB works and suggests some techniques for protecting your USB ports on a laptop.</p>
<p id="2aaa" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">For a kiosk, all the USB ports should be made inaccessible through the use of a secure kiosk or tablet enclosure. Many secure enclosure options are available for both tablets and kiosks.</p>
<h1 id="10dc" class="gi gj dc bk bj gk gl gm gn go gp gq gr gs gt gu gv" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Prevent access to the file system</h1>
<p id="f8dd" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm gw fo gx fq gy fs gz fu ha fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">It’s important to ensure that hackers cannot access the file system of your kiosk. There are multiple ways to get to the file system, particularly if your kiosk is running a web browser.</p>
<p id="0c69" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">One method is by simply entering the file path into the web browser address bar like shown below. I now have access to browse the file system and access potentially sensitive information.</p>
<figure class="er es et eu ev eq cl cm paragraph-image" style="text-align: justify;">
<div class="hh hi fc hj ak">
<div class="cl cm hg">
<div class="fb r fc fd">
<div class="hk r">
<div class="ew ex cp t u ey ak dv ez fa"></div>
<p><img class="kr ml cp t u ey ak fi" role="presentation" src="https://miro.medium.com/max/778/1*6BxxzeOFFtF5p0vtlK8ZNw.jpeg" width="778" height="566" /></div>
</div>
</div>
</div><figcaption class="bo du gc gd ge cn cl cm gf gg bj dt" data-selectable-paragraph=""><em class="gh">File system accessed through the address bar in Chrome</em></figcaption></figure>
<p id="259f" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Other opportunities to access the file system include, but are not limited to, the print dialog and right clicking the mouse.</p>
<p id="c896" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">You’ll also want to monitor for popup windows and automatically close any dialog boxes.</p>
<h1 id="a7a8" class="gi gj dc bk bj gk gl gm gn go gp gq gr gs gt gu gv" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Restrict access to external websites</h1>
<p id="d985" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm gw fo gx fq gy fs gz fu ha fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">If your kiosk is running a web browser then you’ll want to restrict the user to only viewing your website.</p>
<p id="f18e" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">The most straightforward way of accomplishing this is through the use of a whitelist.</p>
<p id="21e2" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">A whitelist list is an acceptable list of websites or web pages, depending on how granular you want to get, which the browser will allow to be displayed.</p>
<p id="43b0" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">If the user attempts to navigate to a page not in the whitelist then the page will not be displayed.</p>
<h1 id="208b" class="gi gj dc bk bj gk gl gm gn go gp gq gr gs gt gu gv" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Incorporate a watchdog</h1>
<figure class="er es et eu ev eq cl cm paragraph-image" style="text-align: justify;">
<div class="hh hi fc hj ak">
<div class="cl cm hl">
<div class="fb r fc fd">
<div class="hm r">
<div class="ew ex cp t u ey ak dv ez fa"></div>
<p><img class="kr ml cp t u ey ak fi" role="presentation" src="https://miro.medium.com/max/1024/1*8ofIwzOKao4-9ANhQjkUmg.jpeg" width="1024" height="684" /></div>
</div>
</div>
</div>
</figure>
<p id="7706" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">A watchdog refers to a service running in the background which ensures that your kiosk application is always running.</p>
<p id="d72a" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">If your kiosk application crashes, uses up too much memory, or stops behaving for any reason, the watchdog will restart it.</p>
<p id="3db2" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">In Windows the watchdog should be a Windows Service that automatically runs at startup. The watchdog will be implemented differently depending on your operating system, but the underlying objective is the same.</p>
<h1 id="ceed" class="gi gj dc bk bj gk gl gm gn go gp gq gr gs gt gu gv" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Wrapping Up</h1>
<p id="1272" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm gw fo gx fq gy fs gz fu ha fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Anytime you’re deploying a kiosk, protecting customer data should be a top concern.</p>
<p id="4283" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Payment kiosks in particular are attractive targets for hackers because cardholder data is easy to monetize. But payment kiosks aren’t the only kiosks at risk.</p>

                        )

                    [summary#] => 1
                    [summary] => Many of these kiosk hardening techniques involves functional changes to your kiosk application, so you’ll need to get your developers involved. Prevent PIN theft...
                    [atom_content#] => 1
                    [atom_content] => <p id="8a2b" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Many of these kiosk hardening techniques involves functional changes to your kiosk application, so you’ll need to get your developers involved.</p>
<p data-selectable-paragraph=""><img class="aligncenter wp-image-41 size-full" src="http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/micsoroft_windows_logo_on_a_security_shield_in_a_field_of_abstract_binary_data_by_arkadiusz_wargua_gettyimages-1126779135_2400x1600-100798021-large.jpg" alt="" width="1200" height="800" srcset="http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/micsoroft_windows_logo_on_a_security_shield_in_a_field_of_abstract_binary_data_by_arkadiusz_wargua_gettyimages-1126779135_2400x1600-100798021-large.jpg 1200w, http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/micsoroft_windows_logo_on_a_security_shield_in_a_field_of_abstract_binary_data_by_arkadiusz_wargua_gettyimages-1126779135_2400x1600-100798021-large-300x200.jpg 300w, http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/micsoroft_windows_logo_on_a_security_shield_in_a_field_of_abstract_binary_data_by_arkadiusz_wargua_gettyimages-1126779135_2400x1600-100798021-large-768x512.jpg 768w, http://hackstub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/micsoroft_windows_logo_on_a_security_shield_in_a_field_of_abstract_binary_data_by_arkadiusz_wargua_gettyimages-1126779135_2400x1600-100798021-large-1024x683.jpg 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 1200px) 100vw, 1200px" /></p>
<h1 id="a7a9" class="gi gj dc bk bj gk gl gm gn go gp gq gr gs gt gu gv" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Prevent PIN theft</h1>
<p id="3e02" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm gw fo gx fq gy fs gz fu ha fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">It’s frighteningly easy to steal someone’s PIN number using an iPhone and a thermal camera.</p>
<p id="6473" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Flir makes one such thermal mobile camera that can be used to easily determine the PIN number someone entered.</p>
<p id="df3c" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">The following video demonstrates this technique and explains how metal PIN pads, like those commonly found on ATMs, can be used to prevent PIN theft.</p>
<h1 id="62f2" class="gi gj dc bk bj gk gl gm gn go gp gq gr gs gt gu gv" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Password protect the BIOS</h1>
<blockquote class="hc hd he">
<p id="c890" class="fj fk dc hf fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" data-selectable-paragraph="">The BIOS firmware comes pre-installed on a personal computer‘s system board, and it is the first software to run when powered on.</p>
<p id="8dc8" class="fj fk dc hf fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" data-selectable-paragraph="">Wikipedia</p>
</blockquote>
<p id="d6dc" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">The BIOS is the first screen that appears when your computer boots and determines the boot order, among other things. From a security standpoint this is of particular concern because we don’t want a hacker to be able to reconfigure the computer to boot from a USB drive, or other media, instead of the kiosk’s hard drive.</p>
<p id="befb" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Booting from another media would allow the attacker to run malware instead of the kiosk’s operating system. Fortunately, protecting the BIOS is simply a matter of configuring a password so the BIOS settings cannot be modified.</p>
<p id="09ed" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Here’s a tutorial video of how-to password protect your BIOS.</p>
<figure class="er es et eu ev eq" style="text-align: justify;">
<div class="fb r fc">
<div class="hb r"></div>
</div><figcaption class="bo du gc gd ge cn cl cm gf gg bj dt"><em class="gh">Tutorial video of how-to password protect your BIOS</em></figcaption></figure>
<h1 id="eed0" class="gi gj dc bk bj gk gl gm gn go gp gq gr gs gt gu gv" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Restrict keyboard input</h1>
<p id="de21" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm gw fo gx fq gy fs gz fu ha fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">The operating system has many keyboard shortcuts that will allow an attacker to exit out of your kiosk application and access the desktop.</p>
<p id="15eb" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">There are many such hotkeys (i.e. Ctrl-Alt-Del in Windows) and we want to restrict the keyboard input to prevent a hacker from exiting your kiosk application.</p>
<p id="cbe7" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Avoid the use of a physical keyboard when possible and instead opt for an onscreen keyboard with the system keys removed.</p>
<p id="7e0d" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">As an added layer of security, you can use a keyboard filter driver to filter out system hotkeys.</p>
<h1 id="9fab" class="gi gj dc bk bj gk gl gm gn go gp gq gr gs gt gu gv" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Prevent the mouse right-click</h1>
<p id="1076" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm gw fo gx fq gy fs gz fu ha fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Right clicking the mouse will prompt the user with a series of options. Some of which could be used to close or compromise your kiosk application. This is particularly true if your kiosk is running a web browser.</p>
<p id="c74b" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Limiting the user to only clicking the left mouse button will help mitigate this risk.</p>
<p id="b5ee" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">The easiest way to achieve this is by having your kiosk application filter or ignore the right mouse click.</p>
<h1 id="c655" class="gi gj dc bk bj gk gl gm gn go gp gq gr gs gt gu gv" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Block physical access to USB ports</h1>
<p id="8958" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm gw fo gx fq gy fs gz fu ha fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">By allowing a hacker access to the USB ports they can potentially load malware to hijack your kiosk.</p>
<p id="7d7b" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">The following video explains how BadUSB works and suggests some techniques for protecting your USB ports on a laptop.</p>
<p id="2aaa" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">For a kiosk, all the USB ports should be made inaccessible through the use of a secure kiosk or tablet enclosure. Many secure enclosure options are available for both tablets and kiosks.</p>
<h1 id="10dc" class="gi gj dc bk bj gk gl gm gn go gp gq gr gs gt gu gv" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Prevent access to the file system</h1>
<p id="f8dd" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm gw fo gx fq gy fs gz fu ha fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">It’s important to ensure that hackers cannot access the file system of your kiosk. There are multiple ways to get to the file system, particularly if your kiosk is running a web browser.</p>
<p id="0c69" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">One method is by simply entering the file path into the web browser address bar like shown below. I now have access to browse the file system and access potentially sensitive information.</p>
<figure class="er es et eu ev eq cl cm paragraph-image" style="text-align: justify;">
<div class="hh hi fc hj ak">
<div class="cl cm hg">
<div class="fb r fc fd">
<div class="hk r">
<div class="ew ex cp t u ey ak dv ez fa"></div>
<p><img class="kr ml cp t u ey ak fi" role="presentation" src="https://miro.medium.com/max/778/1*6BxxzeOFFtF5p0vtlK8ZNw.jpeg" width="778" height="566" /></div>
</div>
</div>
</div><figcaption class="bo du gc gd ge cn cl cm gf gg bj dt" data-selectable-paragraph=""><em class="gh">File system accessed through the address bar in Chrome</em></figcaption></figure>
<p id="259f" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Other opportunities to access the file system include, but are not limited to, the print dialog and right clicking the mouse.</p>
<p id="c896" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">You’ll also want to monitor for popup windows and automatically close any dialog boxes.</p>
<h1 id="a7a8" class="gi gj dc bk bj gk gl gm gn go gp gq gr gs gt gu gv" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Restrict access to external websites</h1>
<p id="d985" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm gw fo gx fq gy fs gz fu ha fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">If your kiosk is running a web browser then you’ll want to restrict the user to only viewing your website.</p>
<p id="f18e" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">The most straightforward way of accomplishing this is through the use of a whitelist.</p>
<p id="21e2" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">A whitelist list is an acceptable list of websites or web pages, depending on how granular you want to get, which the browser will allow to be displayed.</p>
<p id="43b0" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">If the user attempts to navigate to a page not in the whitelist then the page will not be displayed.</p>
<h1 id="208b" class="gi gj dc bk bj gk gl gm gn go gp gq gr gs gt gu gv" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Incorporate a watchdog</h1>
<figure class="er es et eu ev eq cl cm paragraph-image" style="text-align: justify;">
<div class="hh hi fc hj ak">
<div class="cl cm hl">
<div class="fb r fc fd">
<div class="hm r">
<div class="ew ex cp t u ey ak dv ez fa"></div>
<p><img class="kr ml cp t u ey ak fi" role="presentation" src="https://miro.medium.com/max/1024/1*8ofIwzOKao4-9ANhQjkUmg.jpeg" width="1024" height="684" /></div>
</div>
</div>
</div>
</figure>
<p id="7706" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">A watchdog refers to a service running in the background which ensures that your kiosk application is always running.</p>
<p id="d72a" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">If your kiosk application crashes, uses up too much memory, or stops behaving for any reason, the watchdog will restart it.</p>
<p id="3db2" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">In Windows the watchdog should be a Windows Service that automatically runs at startup. The watchdog will be implemented differently depending on your operating system, but the underlying objective is the same.</p>
<h1 id="ceed" class="gi gj dc bk bj gk gl gm gn go gp gq gr gs gt gu gv" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Wrapping Up</h1>
<p id="1272" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm gw fo gx fq gy fs gz fu ha fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Anytime you’re deploying a kiosk, protecting customer data should be a top concern.</p>
<p id="4283" class="fj fk dc bk fl b fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw" style="text-align: justify;" data-selectable-paragraph="">Payment kiosks in particular are attractive targets for hackers because cardholder data is easy to monetize. But payment kiosks aren’t the only kiosks at risk.</p>

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