Alternate title: “Being a lamb around a pack of wolves” … A venue full of hackers that are eager to attack your systems…
On 3-4/05/2012 the third AthCon conference was held in Athens. AthCon is an international security conference whose motto is “The First HIGHLY TECHNICAL Security Conference in Greece”.
Even though I am not a security professional, my daily job title is “Systems and Services Engineer” which of course includes various aspects of security but I am certainly not a security researcher, I had decided months ago that I would be attending this year’s AthCon. Since I like messing a lot with IPv6 for the past 2-3 years, I decided that I could try and submit an introductory talk about IPv6 security issues. My talk was accepted, so I was not only attending AthCon this year but I was going to give a presentation as well.
My presentation – Are you ready for IPv6 insecurities ? was during the first day of the conference. I am always worried when I give presentations on IPv6 that the people attending have probably no clue about this ‘not-so-new’ protocol. Most people think that IPv6 is like IPv4 with bigger addresses and ‘:’ instead of ‘.’ to separate the address groups, which is of course a HUGE mistake/misunderstanding. I was hopeful that this wouldn’t be the case in AthCon, so when I started my presentation and I asked the crowd ‘how many of you know what SLAAC is ?’ and I only saw 3-4 hands raised I kinda froze, I was expecting at least a double digit…I was going to give a presentation on IPv6 security concepts to people that have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about. Being prepared for the fact that some people would need some ‘refreshing’ on their IPv6 knowledge, I had prepared around 20 introductory slides explaining some IPv6 concepts before I entered the security details, but I doubt these were enough for most people there. I am hopeful though that some of the attendees might be motivated to read more about the protocol since I think my security slides contained enough details, references and links to get people started. If someone needs more details feel free to contact me.
Enough with my presentation, what about other presentations ?
My personal view is that this year’s AthCon had some great talks, some that were ok and some that I didn’t like. I won’t mention which ones I didn’t like, but I noticed that a LOT of people were gossiping about these in the hallways. I will only mention here the ones that I really liked.
“Packing Heat!” by Dimitrios Glynos
A presentation that every pentester should download/watch somehow. Techniques about packing your executables to avoid detection by anti-virus programs, need I say more ? Great content and very well presented. Congrats Dimitris!
“PostScript: Danger Ahead” by Andrei Costin
How to use PostScript programming language to take advantage of Printers, OS, etc. Very interesting concepts were presented and also the examples/demos shown were pretty cool and easy to understand.
“Apple vs. Google Client Platforms” by Felix ‘FX’ Lindner
I guess mostly everyone reading this blog knows FX and what a great speaker he is. If you don’t then start watching his previous presentations and start reading about his work. His presentation at AthCon, apart from being the best one in terms of “presenting it”, was also extremely interesting. He connected the security concepts behind Apple’s iOS and Google’s Chromebook with their business tactics and policies. Just wait for AthCon to publish the videos and watch it. Probably the best talk at AthCon 2012.
“Advances in BeEF: RESTful API, WebSockets, XssRays enhancements” by Michele Orru
Jaw-dropping. That’s all I have to say about BeEF. Scary. Watch it to see what browsers and IDS have to face and defend against…not in the future but right now.
“Exploitation and state machines” by Halvar Flake
This presentation was about exploitation techniques and why automated exploitation engines don’t work that well. Even though reversing and exploitation is far from my interest topics I enjoyed the talk a lot. Very well structured and very clear points. Too bad this talk did not appear on the schedule and was there as “tbc”, I am sure many more people would come just to listen to this talk and speak to Halvar.
If I were to suggest a couple of things for next year…
a) Please put the CTF in separate slots within the day, not at the same time with the presentations. In a conference of 150-200 people (just guessing here) having 30+ people leaving the presentation room and just attending the CTF all day long leaves the main room a bit empty. I am pretty sure there were people that wanted to attend both the presentations and the CTF, unfortunately they had to make a choice.
b) Send some details/info to the speakers about the conference a few days earlier. Maybe non-greek presenters were given but we weren’t, at least I wasn’t.
c) The venue is really nice, but maybe it would help if the next AthCon was organized somewhere downtown. Yeah I can understand that the cost would be higher but number of people attending would also raise (I think).
d) Give us even more highly technical presentations/speakers! People starve for these kind of talks!
My congratulations fly to AthCon people for organizing the conference. See you next year!