Sunday, November 16, 2008

Blogging from DeepSec 2008 in Vienna

I am already back stateside from DeepSec and I am now flying to CSI 35th in DC; finally I had time to prepare my DeepSec blog post.

First, I enjoyed DeepSec conference and I am grateful for the invitation to speak there. I love European conferences – and not only for having infinitely (with that being an under-statement of the year) superior coffee during breaks :-) In particular, I liked the audience for my presentation (slides ARE posted here) and I think the audience liked my material and myself too :-)

What also impressed me a lot was Ivan Krstić speech, which was the second day keynote. He started by simply stating that ‘security industry has failed’ and that ‘a desktop is lost.’ His proof was in typical numbers like “75% of corporate systems are infected with at least 1 malware piece per system”, “1 million of malware types” and “25,000 unique malware samples a day seen.” However, he then broadened the subject and talked about how not only “a trusted desktop” is gone, but the entire world of “trust everything [on a system], all the time” is gone (his ideas were similar to what I planned to present in my HITB 2008 presentation about “the 0wned world”)

I also like how he positioned all those “security user prompts” (in Vista and even before) as a proof that security technologies have failed and now we have to rely on the user to make security decisions (which will obviously fail as well since users are now fully conditioned to “see a chunk of technical mumbo-jumbo, then click OK”)

It was also interesting how he connected a lot of security failures to his “#1 reason: all programs run with all privileges of the user that runs them.” In fact, he illustrated it by reminding the audience that “everybody runs untrusted code every day today [web browser + Javascript, etc] while nobody did this 30 years ago.” He also beat up blackisting as an approach to security (but then again, everybody does it today :-)) - what was interesting that he opined that “we will spend the next 10 years proving that whitelisting will fail just as we spent previous 10 years proving that blacklisting fail.” His main point was that global “onslaught” of whitelisting and code signing will kill all sorts of useful things AND provide little security.

He then called for everybody to think about solving the hard, possibly non-sexy problems. This is the part where I could have used more details :-)

So, a fun speech (even though my telling of it is a bit jumbled… check out his slides whenever they are posted) – and a fun conference overall. Worth a 12 hour flight :-)

UPDATE: my slides are posted here.

Dr Anton Chuvakin