electronic brain surgery since 2001

25C3 Roundup

The last four days I attended the 25th Chaos Communication Congress here in Berlin. It's a hacker conference with a broad spectrum of talks.

Even though it was much to crowded and getting on of the seats was an adventure every time, I had much fun and saw a lot of interesting stuff.

What I have seen and my impressions are briefly presented below. If something sounds interesting to you, be sure to check out the conference video recordings.

Happy New Year, everybody.

Day One

Access to four days of fun

Datenpannen Forderungen nach dem Jahr der Datenverbrechen

A quick summary over all the scandals where user data was lost by officials or companies the last year and what should change to avoid it in the future. Interesting fact: nearly all changing rooms of Berlin's swimming baths are under video surveillance.

The Trust Situation Why the idea of data protection slowly turns out to be defective

Interesting facts how behaviour and society changes due to permanent surveillance.

Solar-powering your Geek Gear Alternative and mobile power for all your little toys

The guy showed his solution using a 4 part foldable solar panel and gave some ideas what to power with it. Interesting but still too much to carry around with not enough efficiency for my taste.

About Cyborgs and Gargoyles State of the Art in Wearable Computing

Much too university focused talk about wearable computers. The title promised more than the talk could deliver. No cyborgs here.

Terrorist All-Stars Some cases of terrorism around the world that are not terrorist at all

A disturbing talk by Anne Roth about how terrorism laws around the world are used against political activists, scientists and “normal” people. Scary stuff. Interesting fact: USA considers so called “eco-terrorism” as the number one terrorism threat inside the country. That's right, not Muslim bombs but released animals and destroyed gene food fields is what they fear.

Chip Reverse Engineering

Now this was a really interesting talk. They explained how they extract proprietary encryption methods from chips by grinding and photographing their layers. Interesting fact: they use the Hugin panorama tool suite for stichting their images and face recognition software to identify the logic gates.

Hacking the iPhone Pwning Apple's Mobile Internet Device

A bit of inside knowledge how the iPhone was broken by the guys who did it. Interesting fact: about 800 pwnage tool installations inside the Apple IP range.

Locating Mobile Phones using SS7

Interesting talk on how to locate GSM phones on a city level resolution using specially certain features of the SS7 protocol used by the telcos.

Why were we so vulnerable to the DNS vulnerability?

Wonderful talk by Dan Kaminsky about the surrounding of his DNS bug and how he worked with vendors to get it fixed before releasing the details. Interesting fact: he explained how his online vulnerability checker for the bug works by using multiple HTTP redirects.

Day 2

Embracing Post-Privacy Optimism towards a future where there is “Nothing to hide”

Plomlompom tried to spread some optimism about how total surveillance could be a good thing when it is evenly spread. His main thesis: more data more trust. When surveillance is total, eg. not only the state watching its citizens but also the citizens watching the state (and each others), this kind of transparency could improve things instead of worsen it. A bit far fetched, but an interesting thought play.

Full-Disk-Encryption Crash-Course Everything to hide

A broad overview over available full disk encryption software. Not enough hands-on info for my taste.

Flying for free Exploiting the weather with unpowered aircraft

Excellent talk about “hacking the sky” using glider planes, the state of the used software (impressive) and a bit about how the whole thing works.

Vulnerability discovery in encrypted closed source PHP applications

Interesting info how to analyze crypted (not obfuscated!) PHP apps by intercepting PHP opcode calls.

TCP Denial of Service Vulnerabilities Accepting the Partial Disclosure Challenge

There are multiple security problems in the TCP protocol that are not addressed in the current TCP stacks, mainly DOS and Congestion attacks. The talk explained a few and asked for joining the “Spec Hacking”. Interesting and a bit scary.

Scalable Swarm Robotics Formica: a cheap, open research platform

This talk presented a set of very cheap robots that can interact with each other. 25 robots are just about 15€ of material. Unfortunately no kits are sold yet. Interesting fact: the bots can share new firmware to each other via infrared.

Rapid Prototype Your Life The time is now to make anything you can imagine

Very entertaining presentation on various ways to digitally design real things and produce them right away. Now I want a laser cutter.

We like Porn

The Infinite Library Storage and Access of Pornographic Information

Hilarious talk about how to store your porn. Rose explained how many people use neatly categorized folders to store their porn collection. Favorite quote in the Q&A session later:
Q: While YouPorn was blocked, where did Germans get their porn?
A: Folders!.

Fnord News Show Wir helfen Euch, die Fnords zu sehen

Really funny. Hard to explain, just watch the video.

Soviet Unterzoegersdorf A Nation In Transit

The art group monochrome presented their 2nd computer game. Funny, but the end was a bit of a pain and took too long.

Day 3

I wasn't feeling too well on this day so I left early.

Running your own GSM network

How to be your own GSM mobile phone provider using hardware for about 600€ and open source software. Interesting fact: HAR2009 will probably have it's own GSM net using this.

Repurposing the TI EZ430U with msp430static, solder, and syringe

Reprogramming some inexpensive micro controller by reverse engineering its firmware. Being no electronics guy I did not understand half of the talk.

Neusprech im Überwachungsstaat Politikersprache zwischen Orwell und Online

Excellent analysis how Orwell's newspeak is already used by politicians.

Analyzing RFID Security

A bit of background info how the Myfare hack could work and what to avoid when designing RFID systems.

Crowded to the max

Security and anonymity vulnerabilities in Tor Past, present, and future

Interesting to see the flaws of Tor being pointed out by its lead developer himself. Interesting Fact: Tor is the only project financed by the Department of Defence and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

OnionCat – A Tor-based Anonymous VPN Building an anonymous Internet within the Internet

A software providing Tor as a network interface similar to what OpenVPN does. Interesting solution.

Day 4

Lightning Talks

Several short talks. Most interesting was the “consumer-b-gone” talk about hacking the anti-theft system of super market shopping carts.

Not Soy Fast Genetically Modified, Resource Greedy, and coming to a Supermarket Near You

How genetically modified soy is everywhere. Not very surprising to me, but a bit scary non the less.

Wikileaks Wikileaks vs. the World

More or less an introduction what Wikileaks is, what criteria they apply to publicize material and what challenges they face. While interesting, the presentation could have used a better talker IMHO.

MD5 considered harmful today

MD5 considered harmful today Creating a rogue CA Certificate

The talk everybody was waiting for. The guys presented a practical implementation of a hack that was theoretically known since 2007. In short they where able to forge SSL certificates based on a MD5 collision attack. About 30% of all SSL certificates could be vulnerable to a man-in-the-middle attack now. Interesting fact: Microsoft had to sign a NDA before getting informations from the researchers.

Security Nightmares 2009 Oder: worüber wir nächstes Jahr lachen werden

A funny prediction of what will go wrong in the next year of IT. They also presented a new hack, the “Curse of Silence”. A specially crafted SMS can disable SMS receiving on virtually any Nokia phone. Of 4 GSM providers in Germany only one has fixed the problem so far. Nokia users should upgrade their phone software as soon as upgrades are available.

Closing Ceremony

Interesting facts about the congress. About 4300 attendees, with 5000+ MAC addresses. WiFi worked amazingly well but on the limits of the technical specification.

25c3, event, congress, hacking
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