DefCon 2009, a cybersecurity mecca for computer experts to show vulnerabilities in network infrastructures run by Black Hat’s Jeff Moss, ended its four-day Las Vegas, Nevada conference today. For those of you who are not technology whiz kids, here are the most important takeaways from the conference.
Cybersecurity researchers Charlie Miller and Collin Mulliner unveiled an SMS infrastructure that could hack into personal email, online banking, text message functions and camera options on Apple iPhones. Victims of the iPhone hack may not know that the SMS text is a virus because it surpasses the regular antivirus software and the virus’ phone number begins with 611, a trusted area code.
The cyber experts explained that if an iPhone user receives a text with a square character in the message, the user must immediately turn off the phone to prevent the bogus text message from destroying the phone’s hard-drive. As Miller told Forbes Magazine after the demonstration, “This is serious, the only thing you can do to prevent it is turn off your phone. Someone could pretty quickly take over every iPhone in the world with this.“
Apple responded to the security breach by issuing a press release the next day and uploading an iPhone 3.01 security software update free to users on itunes.
Korean Spy Attendance
According to reports, four South Korean ‘journalists’ attempted to enter the Black Hat conference, the four ‘journalists’ were escorted out of the conference when their stories did not add up. The Korean visitors were believed not to be reporters at all but ‘intelligence gathering’ individuals; spies. DefCon attendees raised the alarm after the South Korean’s conducted interviews that did not cater to normal questions posed by the media at BlackHat. The event comes after the recent July 4th distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) on U.S. and South Korean government and private computer networks.
Heavy Federal Recruiting
The final story to note at the BlackHat conference is the thousands of agents that attended the conference to recruite cyber hackers. This is in stark contrast to DefCon 1999 when Jim Christy of the Department of Defense sat at the “Meet the Fed’s” table with only two other agents.”The principal reason that I’m here is to recruit. We have many empty jobs, empty slots that we can’t fill,”said Col. Michael Convertino, commander of the U.S. Air Force’s 318th Information Operations Group at a BlackHat panel.
Christy explained in a interview that originally the fed’s came to the unconventional conference to gather tips and information from DefCon participants, today the federal government is actively seeking to fill the cybersecurity openings in the federal government at DefCon.”The character of DefCon has changed over the years. Ninety-five percent of the people here are good guys,” noted Christy.