The Haj of Netsec Nerds Worldwide: Blackhat Las Vegas

I arrived yesterday, ready for Blackhat again. Since this time last year, I’ve attended Blackhat: DC, Blackhat: Abu Dhabi and Blackhat: Europe. And here I am again. Blackhat Las Vegas.

It’s bar none my favorite show of the year. This is the big show. The haj of netsec nerds worldwide. This is our mecca. This is Blackhat/Defcon. The anticipation began to creep up a few weeks back when I came to Las Vegas for Cisco Live, which too, was a great show. But it’s not like this. Cisco Live is a networking event supported by sponsors. Blackhat is about the nerds. It’s about we who live and breathe security. It’s about the blackhats and the whitehats. And a bit of grey in between. This is a show for nerds by nerds.

Setup happened today for the training which starts tomorrow. I’m excited. Tomorrow is BackTrack training and rumor has it, BackTrack5 is being released. That’s really exciting as Backtrack is the premier penn testing tool used worldwide by hackers and security engineers worldwide.

This may sound like a shock to you, but I’ve seldom used BackTrack. My personal style has involved online tools to mask my identity. Online tools to do hours and hours of recon to craft my attack long before the trigger is pulled. I’ve always had the impression that BackTrack was more or less a brute forcers dream. So, I’ve never taken the plunge. I’ve used Metasploit, and Wireshark and a host of other recon and/or attack tools, but never once have I used a suite such as BackTrack to take a run at a network, hack hosts or take down applications. It’s such a different animal to me.

There’s a difference between hackers and penetration testers. Much of it comes down to time, but time plays a big part. A Pennetration Testers job is based on an hourly rate or by a salary. But he can’t take 6 months to penn test a network. So generally Penn testers go in, run through their checklist of ports to probe, OS’s to fingerprint and SQL to inject. Or the salary employee will try to push through the task as fast as possible to finish as fast as possible.

But the reality is… that’s not how hackers do it. When you hack… time is on your side. Time is your friend. You have lots of it. You’re not in a rush. Low and slow is the saying, and its never been more true than it is now.

As time goes by, I find myself saying that phrase quite a bit more lately than previously. “Low and slow.” And I can’t help but feel like it comes down to one basic thing that’s prompting that.

There are several technologies on the market today which are ridiculously expensive, and I can’t help but feel like they are nothing more than Dumbo’s feather for Security Architects and CISOs who don’t know any better. It gives them a false sense of confidence, OR they lose complete confidence in security due to the constant number of false positives being received.

Tomorrow starts the BackTrack course I’m auditing. And I’m excited to get started.

I’ll post more on how it goes, my thoughts on the tool and the teaching.

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