26c3 Berlin

Thursday, December 31, 2009 

26c3 was a blast, as was Berlin. It’s a good conference in the olde school hacker style: mostly younger people, mostly wearing black. There weren’t a lot of women, but Carolyn, Isabella, and Meredith tried to even out the ratio a bit.

Some of the best lectures included one by some German engineers working on the lunar x-prize. They had their prototype rover with them and gave a great talk about the various challenges.

Another great one was Dan Kaminski’s talk on PKI. I don’t agree with the premise that SSL should be a reliable method for identifying the owners of websites as people just can’t tell the difference between bankofamerica.com and bancomerica.com and so it doesn’t make anyone safer if the bankofamerica site is super green if bancomerica.com is also super green, and so the complexities of getting an accepted certificate simply reduce the use of secure connections and the overall security of the internet. But he had some pretty great attacks on the security of SSL that causes problems no matter what.

We enjoyed fuzzing the phone as well. It was a very entertaining talk on attacking phones with crafted SMSes. The method of creating the attacks was very clever – rooting the phone, redirecting the radio to a wifi link to a CPU so they could try zillions of SMS and see what would happen. In the process they discovered they could remotely root the communications manager (which runs as root). And %n to specific windows phones and they’ll crash and fail to reboot until the SMS is cleared out of the inbox.

Berlin is a great city and it was fun working in the shadow of the TV tower.

We made reservations for lunch but we could tell it wasn’t going to be a great day. In the end it was a very intimate lunch with pretty clouds pressing against the glass.

The fog lifted but was replaced by snow, which is a lot of fun in a city when you don’t have to drive.

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Posted at 11:42:34 UTC

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