Monday, August 03, 2009

BlackHat 2009 Day 2 – Fun Cloud Stuff

BlackHat 2009 is over, but sharing impressions from it is certainly not.

So, for the the remainder of day 1 went to “Weaponizing the Web” (which had good ideas on CSRF, see their tool here) and “Psychotronica” (which was great content totally killed by a sleep-inducing speaker – I left mid-talk. In fact, I am yawning even as I write about it…). And then I had a chance of seeing Linus get his pwnie

Then I started Day 2 at Jeremiah and Trey talk, which was a lot of fun. Moreover, it was so much fun as to reach 100% entertainment, which is another way of saying that it was not useful for any practical purpose (apart from entertainment purpose mentioned above, of course :-)). In brief, it covered a whole bunch of fun “non-hacking hacking“ cases (such as compromise of a system to issue licenses to do logging in Brazilian jungle, which supposedly netted somebody a cool $800m). They touched (but, sadly, didn’t analyze) a few things such as what is a better focus: “super hacker strategy” (vs advanced targeted attacker on key systems) vs basic baseline (vs opportunists strategy on all systems) [“both” is what they hinted at, of course]. BTW, their deck is posted here, check it out!

Next was my cloud talk #1, “Clobbering the Cloud.” (UPDATE: full slide deck here) A lot of fun and useful things were discussed – and some impressive cloud “0wnage” was shown too. It started from a useful reminder that the whole permission for “testing the cloud” (whether via scanning or manual pentesting) issue is not resolved. Moreover, PaaS/IaaS made it that much worse, since you might have a permission from the cloud application vendor, but not from Amazon and then end up blacklisted (“Never allowed to buy from Amazon again” :-)). In addition, even issues like “Which version of the application/OS/environment are you testing?” are frequent, since SaaS provider might update their application at any time.

They briefly touched on “cloud compliance”, focusing on transparency of the cloud. Somehow they had an impression that nobody is putting regulated data in the cloud…mmmm… right :-) The also mentioned the subpoena risks of having your data obtained by this or that government without you even knowing. Their point was that trust matters A LOT in the cloud, but at the same time the “verify” part of ‘trust but verify’ often fails.

Here is a set of fun things discussed:

  • Cool method for password brute-forcing with password reset links; after all, most if not cloud apps use some password recovery (email- or secret questions-based)
  • A very interesting sifto tool (SaaS nikto) written as a app, which then runs off a high-bandwidth link for free (the story also features a CAPTCHA with its text left in the same web page…)
  • Also, a bunch of good ways to steal cloud resources: Amazon cloud instance of Windows license stealing, paid application theft (via DevPay), etc.
  • Fun “cloud DoS” with exponential, virus-like growth of VM instances and users.
  • Impressive use of trojaned images combined with a tool to make them popular and have them show up at the top of the list. Instant mass cloud 0wnage!

Overall, amazing Amazon IaaS rampage! Also, they showed some fun Apple MobileMe 0wnage as well.

What are my thoughts on this?

First, I’d bet that offensive cloud use (either using stolen benign cloud resources or native “built for evil by evil” clouds :-)) will beat defensive cloud use (like Mark Curphey’s security data analysis ideas) by a long shot. Before we harness cloud resources for security (such as for analytics, etc – we do harness them for scanning already), somebody will turn it against us in a big way. But then again, botnet use for password cracking (which is more “distributed computing” than “cloud computing”) is already there so, “evil cloud” stuff is starting to be a reality…

Second, something made me think that, personally, I’d always keep an offline backup (for BOTH data and processing capability!) for anything I’d put in the cloud. Notice how it compares to the past paranoid mantra “don’t store anything truly private on an Internet-connected PC” – nowadays it is “don’t store it ON the Internet” :-( What’s next, don’t announce it on Twitter? :-)

Third, people talk a lot about software liability and how hard/controversial it is. I had this thought that maybe cloud computing will be where it will start?

Finally, how’s that for a paradox?

a) Many folks say that: “cloud security" (loosely defined here) can be and needs to be awesome.

b) Everybody agrees that: web app security is horrible and will be horrible for a long time.

c) Obviously: cloud computing today is mostly web apps.

Huh? Isn’t the whole cloud security fun (now I know why some folks are so excited about it)?

Next, I went to Kostya’s “Cloudburst” talk; I didn’t follow VMWare security closely enough, but seeing another reliable Guest->Host escape is pretty cool. Sadly, too many people chose this room to catch up on some much needed sleep after a rough night, it seems.

Finally, Bruce Schneier did a very fun talk (yes, really!), which deserves its own post tomorrow.

Possibly related posts:

Dr Anton Chuvakin