Review of the first Athens CryptoParty

On Sunday the 11th of November we finally had our first CryptoParty in Athens, Greece. We hosted it at the Athens Hackerspace.

Organizing
We organized our first CryptoParty in a very ad-hoc way. A pad was set up and advertised on Twitter/Facebook. Almost immediately people started writing their thoughts, views and interests there. We soon had a list of topics that people were interested in and another list of people willing to give presentations/workshops. Later on we set up a doodle so people would choose the most convenient dates for them. From the group of 50 people that originally expressed their interest to attend the CryptoParty, at least 20 voted on the doodle. That’s how the final date of November the 11th was chosen.

It was surprising/refreshing that even though everything was organized through an anonymously editable pad, nobody tried to vandalize it.

The actual event
Through the pad, we chose 3 topics for the first meeting. “Using SSL/TLS for your Internet communications”, an “introduction to Tor” and another “introduction to I2P”.
The time for the event was set for 12:00 in the morning, probably a very bad choice. The next one should definitely be later in the afternoon or even night. We learn by our mistakes though…People started showing up at around 11:30, but the event didn’t start until 12:30 when someone from hackerspace.gr gave a 5′ intro talk about what the hackerspace is to people who had never been there before. People kept coming even until 13:00 and the audience had grown to more than 30 people.
After the three workshops/presentations around 10-15 people stayed and we ordered pizza.

All in all I’d say it was fairly successful since more than 30 people came and actually did things to improve their security.

The presentations/workshops
Using SSL/TLS for your Internet communications” (in English) was my effort to show people how cleartext data travels through the Internet and how any intermediate “bad guy”/LEA can easily read or manipulate your data. People were instructed to install wireshark so they could actually see for themselves what the actual problem is. It was very “nice” to see their surprise upon watching cleartext packets flowing through their network cards. It was even nicer to see their surprise when I used tcpdump on hackerspace’s router to redirect traffic to wireshark running on a Debian laptop to display their data, without having “direct” access to their computer. Then people were introduced to the idea of Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS), and how HTTPS protects their web data from prying eyes. After this tiny “privacy apocalypse” it was very easy to convince users to install HTTPS-Everywhere. And so they did. Afterwards they got instructions on how they should change SSL/TLS settings for their E-email and IM clients.
My original intention was to “scare” people a bit. It was funny to see their faces when they logged in to yahoo mail and they could see their emails cleartext on wireshark. People don’t understand how data travels through the Internet unless they experience it for themselves. I’m glad that people who had absolutely no idea about HTTPS are now using HTTPS-Everywhere to protect themselves. Hopefully they’ll show that to their friends as well.

Introduction to Tor” (in Greek) gave people an idea at what anonymity is, how it differs from security and how users should be combining both TLS and Tor usage for security and anonymity at the same time. A brief explanation of what hidden services are was given as well. Even though George asked people to download and install Tor Browser Bundle and use it, we’ll definitely need more “hands on” Tor workshops in the future. It will be interesting to convince more people to actually use it and why not, even set up their own hidden services.

Invisible Internet Project a.k.a. I2P” (in English) by @alafroiskiotos was probably the hardest of the three presentations to keep up for people that had no previous idea about anonymity networks. It’s unique architecture and some difficulties in it’s usage raised a lot of interesting questions by attendees.

Thoughts on future CryptoParties
After the end of the workshops/presentations we had a lengthy discussion with the attendees as to what they would like to see/experience in the future CryptoParties. Unfortunately people were not very vocal. Very few participated and openly expressed their thoughts/opinions. A great part of the discussion was spent trying to figure out whom should CryptoParty presentations/workshops target at, users? developers? geeks? It’s obviously very hard to target all groups of people at the same time.

So here are my thoughts on what future CryptoParties should be. CryptoParties should be about changing user habits, they should be closer to workshops than presentations. They should be focused mainly on users not developers nor computer science students. Just simple users. People don’t want theoretical talks about cryptography, they need advice they can use in their daily lives. It’s already very hard to talk about modern crypto to people who haven’t got a strong mathematical background, you have to oversimplify things. Oversimplifying things then makes geeks/nerds unhappy and still doesn’t “teach” people about proper crypto. Even a fairly “simple” HTTPS negotiation contains key crypto concepts that are very difficult for a “crypto-newbie” to grasp. So it’s a lose-lose situation.

We need to teach, or better convince, users on using good, secure, audited tools and not just tell them about technologies and concepts. We, weirdos, might like that, but most users don’t. People need our help to learn how to avoid “fancy” tools and false security prophets. We need to show them how security should be applied in a layered approach. Getting people to care about their own privacy is key to the success of CryptoParties in the way I see them. To achieve that, we, people that know a few things more than the average Joe, should all become volunteers to such efforts. We should be joining CryptoParties in order to help others and not in order to improve ourselves and our knowledge. (Actually when you study in order to make a good workshop/presentation you improve your own knowledge as well, but let’s leave that beside for now.) We can have our separate geeky/nerdy events to present fancy tech and cool crypto stuff, but let’s keep CryptoParties simple and practical. Oh and we’ll need to repeat things again and again and again. That’s the only way people might change their habits.

If you want to find out more about the next Athens CryptoParty keep an eye at Hackerspace’s events and the athens cryptoparty pad. Join us!

Good luck to all the CryptoParties worldwide!

AthCon 2012 Review

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.

Day 1:
“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.

Day 2:
“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!

You can find some of the pics I took from the speakers at: AthCon 2012 speaker pics (if any of the speakers wants his pic removed please contact me ASAP)

AthCon 2012 – Are you ready for IPv6 insecurities ?

My presentation for AthCon 2012 is now available online: Are you ready for IPv6 insecurities ?

0x375 – 0x07 – Security Considerations for a brave new (IPv6) World

I finally had the chance to present something at the Thessaloniki Tech Talk Sessions also known as 0x375. The people over there have done a great job, and I truly mean that, bringing tech people together. Almost once a month 2 speakers can present a tech topic they like at an open auditorium inside the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. On those events people from Thessaloniki, but also from nearby cities, gather and have a great time, not only during the presentations but afterwards as well. I won’t spoil the events that take place during the tech talks, because you should definitely go if you are curious, but I can tell you that it’s not uncommon for as many as 15 to 20 people to go for beers after the talks!

So, the past Friday (25/11/2011), me and @apoikos traveled from Athens to Thessaloniki to present at 0x375. My presentation was about some security concepts on IPv6 networks, how old attacks of the IPv4 world transform to new ones on the IPv6 world and about some new ones that will appear on local networks sooner or later. I also had prepared some small live demos, but as always it’s very hard to succeed in a live demo if you don’t quite control the environment. At least some of the stuff I wanted to show were successful, and I’m happy with those. (Thanks to Nuclear for booting his OS X guinea pig)

Some apologies…When giving a presentation on IPv6, in an event that has no other introductory IPv6 presentations, I always face the same problem, most people are not very well aware of how different this protocol is from IPv4. When I ask the audience how well do they know IPv6, most people are embarrassed to say they have never actually used it, so the audience stays very, VERY silent. This means that I have to put around 15-20 slides to make a “quick introduction to IPv6″, and this unfortunately takes usually over 30′ of presentation time. Some techy/advanced people might be bored with this, but there’s no other way to overcome this “issue”. If you go straight to the point and start discussing about ND ICMPv6 messages most people won’t be able to keep up…so I’m sorry if I made some of the audience get bored by my first slides. I promise that my next talk on 0x375, cause there will surely be a next one, will be less boring for you :)

Thank you all for coming there, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

You can find the slides and my live demo notes here:
0x375 – 0x07 – kargig – Security Considerations for a brave new (IPv6) World (pdf)
0x375 – 0x07 – kargig – Security Considerations for a brave new (IPv6) World – live demo notes (txt)

P.S. I’ve started collecting some interesting (for me) presentations regarding IPv6 topics at void.gr/kargig/ipv6/. Check them out if you like.

World IPv6 Day – The Future is Forever

It’s time!

Tomorrow is the World IPv6 Day and in order to celebrate it in Athens, we are having an IPv6 Party at hackerspace.gr!
I’ll do a small introductory presentation about the basics of IPv6 Protocol and how’s Linux doing with it. After the presentation there will be an open discussion regarding IPv6 … drinking beer.

Everyone’s invited! Be there!

WORLD IPV6 DAY is 8 June 2011 – The Future is Forever

End Users IPv6 Training by Hellenic IPv6 Task force

Today the Hellenic IPv6 Task force organized a training day for end users. Most of the presentations were entry level, since they were targeting end users, but most of them were very interesting. I was happily surprised by Cosmote‘s presentation on their mobile IPv6 tests using native IPv6 and NAT64.

My presentation was about what is architecturally different inside an IPv6-enabled CPE. I tried to present topics like WAN addressing, LAN addressing, auto-configuration (SLAAC), DHCPv6 as well as some migration/tunneling techniques. There were lots of comments, a lot of interesting questions and I was happy to “provoke” an interesting exchange of ideas/perceptions on IPv4 NAT mainly due to the previous to last slide of my presentation :)

At the end of the event there was a draw and people got 4 IPv6-enabled CPEs produced by the company I work for (Gennet), 4 DSL accounts by OTE ready to use for OTE’s pilot IPv6 program and 5 IPv6 related books generously provided by Cisco.

My presentation: Defining an IPv6-ready CPE
All presentations: IPv6 End Users Training Day (2011)

On Friday(s) 27/05 and 03/06 I’ll be giving two more IPv6 presentations at University of Pireus: [oss-unipi] Event #26: Introduction to TCP/IP and IPv6. The first one will be introductory and the second one will be more technical and maybe workshop based. In the same day(s) there will also be in-depth technical IPv4 presentations by Apollon Oikonomopoulos. Be there if you like technical presentations!

Fosscomm 2011 – My review

Generic comments
I just got back home from Fosscomm 2011 and I must admit it has been one of the best organized events of this kind I’ve seen in Greece ever. The single most important fact was that presentations and workshops were always _on time_. They started on time, they finished on time. The organizers had to face even a power cut by the national energy company but they still managed not to fall behind on schedule. My only remark would be about the selection of the presentations that took place in the big room (called BA). Most of them gathered far less people than other presentations which took place in smaller rooms (B3 for example) and those rooms got extremely crowded from time to time. Maybe the organizers thought that generic open source presentations would attract more people than the technical ones but, unfortunately for them, and fortunately for “the greater good”, they were very wrong. This doesn’t reduce their achievement though. Another thing I would like to see on the next Fosscomm is less material given out to participants and instead spend this money on paying for travel expenses of people coming to speak on Fosscomm from abroad. Giving one (or even more) of the phones that HTC kindly provided to the voted by the participants best talk/presentation/workshop would also be very nice. My sincere congratulations to the organizing committee.

My IPv6 workshop
On my application to Fosscomm I had asked for one presentation and a separate workshop. This unfortunately wasn’t accepted, probably due to the large amount of other presentations/workshops, so I was given the first workshop on the very first day of Fosscomm, about “Using IPv6″- on Linux. Since I only had one hour, my original plans were to do a quick 15 min introductory presentation on IPv6 and then a 45 min hands-on lab. Since University of Patras could not provide IPv6 connectivity to the Lab, my other option was to have some remote VMs that would have upstream IPv6 connectivity and people on the Lab would ssh to. These VMs were kindly provided to us by Grnet and I have to publicly thank them one more time. My planning was bad though, people had far more questions about introductory IPv6 issues than I expected and the intro presentation was not finished until more than 35 mins had passed. This lead to the unfortunate result that the workshop could not be completed as I had planned. I am glad though that almost everyone logged into the VMs and had the chance to at least set up an IPv6 IP manually as well as an IPv6 default route. They also had their first ping6s. Some got even further by setting up ip6tables rules…What I definitely wanted to have shown during the workshop, and I didn’t have enough time to, was auto-configuration (SLAAC) which I consider to be one of the most intriguing features of IPv6. Next time I am doing either a presentation or a hands-on workshop, definitely not both in one session. Lesson learned.

Presentation/Workshop material:
Quick Intro to IPv6
Using IPv6 on Linux (workshop notes)

Talks I attended
All the talks I attended were very interesting, I probably did a very good job picking them :) The ones I attended were:
Saturday
a) “A unified user account manager using LDAP/KRB5/CIFS” by Giorgos Mamalakis, Chariton Karamitas
b) “Network Exploitation with Ncrack” by Fotis Chatzis
c) “Wargames” by Patroklos Argyroudis, Fotis Chatzis, Chariton Karamitas
Sunday
a) “Intro to Arduino” by Pierros Papadeas, Kostas Antonakoglou
b) “Φωνή VoIPόντως εν τη ερήμω” by Effie Mouzeli
c) “Bright side of the Darknets” by Athanasios Kostopoulos
d) “Automated Testing Framework” by Giorgos Keramidas
e) “Performing Digital Forensics with Open Source tools” by Dimitrios Glynos
f) “Patras Heap Massacre” by Chariton Karamitas, Patroklos Argyroudis

I consider the most well presented one being: “Performing Digital Forensics with Open Source tools” while the one with the best slides was definitely: “Patras Heap Massacre”. If you weren’t there to see them, definitely try and find at least the slides if not the video.

Wargames
I had never participated before in any wargames because I considered that to be out of my league. That’s the reason I had not even registered for Fosscomm’s wargame called “fosswar”. I was curious though about what it’s like, so me and 3-4 more friends decided to stand in line and enter the room among the other people. The Lab room was crowded, really crowded. At first I thought that one reason for this would be the prize for the winner, an Android phone donated by HTC. I was later proven wrong though. Fosswar started and the organizers presented us with the 5 challenges. Two of those had to do something with networking…so I said to my self that I would be lucky even if I understood what one of those asked. Another challenge had to do with steganography, another one with exploiting a vulnerability in C and the last one was about reverse engineering. While this game could only have one winner, since me and my friends were not actually interested about the prize we decided to work as a team and see whether we can solve anything. Me and a friend looked at the first challenge, another 1 was looking at the third while 2 more were each looking at the fourth and fifth. During the wargame HTC asked for the names of people that wanted to take part in the competition, there nobody actually wanted to give his name. Most of them were there “just for the kicks”. That was even more exciting! HTC then told us that if nobody wanted to give his name the phone would be given on a lottery…so 10-15 people decided to give our names so the phone would “stay” at the fosswar. After solving the first challenge we got so excited that we just had to try the others, we couldn’t give up. So, after 3 hours of thinking and coding, the result was that our team managed to solve 3 of the five challenges, the details on what the challenges were and how we dealt with them will follow in a separate blog post, and we ended up being the winners because no other team had solved more than two. Yes, we had won! We had managed to solve the two networking challenges and the steganography one. That was soooo unexpected!

Pictures
My pictures from Fosscomm 2011 are at: https://picasaweb.google.com/kargig/2011050720110508Fosscomm2011#

My conclusion
Fosscomm this year definitely showed a trend. People don’t need generic presentations about open source any more, they know what it is, they believe in it, they use it. People really ask for technical presentations, and we need more of them.

Whoever couldn’t manage to attend Fosscomm 2011, should definitely attend Fosscomm 2012. I am certainly looking forward to it!