OK, no big deal, we know how this goes. Once again, many of us are attending Black Hat in a virtual capacity as COVID-19 meanders its way out of our lives. The good news is that there’s an actual live component again this year in Las Vegas, and that’s progress. Here’s hoping that next year the pandemic will be more firmly in the rearview and any remaining travel trepidation will be a “2021 thing.”    

So flip the on-switch to some neon lights if you got ‘em, and let’s get into what our Rapid7 experts thought were the biggest takeaways from a busy Day 1 of new tools, techniques, and up-to-the-minute information.

Want more Rapid7 insights from Black Hat 2021?

Check out our Day 2 takeaways

Detection and Response

Key takeaways

  • Does it make sense for an organization to “roll its own SIEM”? Yes and no (because of course that’s the answer). For very specific use cases outside of the norm, it might make sense to start the often-herculean, cost-prohibitive task of building that cloud-native SIEM to best serve hyper-specific needs. But is it worth it to miss out on the high-quality, actionable intel a commercial vendor brings to the table?  
  • When it comes to distributed malware, attackers are bypassing traditional detection. Return Oriented Programming (ROP — pronounced “rope”) grants attackers a bypass route through initial access points to get onto an endpoint faster and easier. However, the real endgame is to bypass that endpoint agent and hack the network at large.  
  • Just how easy is it to hack a hotel? If you were the victim of a hotel hack, you might think a ghost had taken up residence in your room as your IoT-connected bed suddenly moves up and down. However, the proliferation of unprotected networks and IoT devices in modern hotels has created unprecedented opportunities for attackers to gain nefarious access. A back-to-basics approach might be the best way forward for the hospitality industry.

Vulnerability Risk Management

Key takeaways

  • Open Platform Communications (OPC) standards are a wondrous thing, allowing products across many industries to interact and exchange data efficiently. But is security a priority? When commercial vendors all along a supply chain start making their own customizations to the common legacy protocol, well, security isn’t so secure anymore.
  • Find an active-directory certificate vulnerability? Good luck getting it patched. These configuration-related instances are flaws that larger organizations might be hesitant to acknowledge. Check out this (extremely long, but informative) whitepaper on the subject — and the accompanying blog — from SpecterOps.
  • Printer vulnerabilities aren’t paper-thin. Windows Printer Spooler can offer up an attack surface that leads to an instance like the PrintDemon incident. Some of the larger vulnerabilities see attackers and exploit authors leveraging printer path names.  

Research and Policy

Key takeaways

  • Let’s talk lasers — specifically, how attackers can use them to exploit vulnerabilities in hardware like bitcoin wallets. One would hope that the key material they’re storing in that wallet is secure. However, with a laser you can “look through” a silicon chip to confuse the CPU and bypass security checks.  
  • Wondering how future information wars will be fought? By bots. Advanced bots, that is — those that leverage Generative Pre-Trained Transformer (GPT) language models like GPT-3. With this powerful tool, a small group of people could generate misinformation at scale, quickly spinning up thousands of fake social accounts creating individual posts that sound like actual human language. That’s scary.  
  • As far as we know, AI cannot yet be arrested. However, threat actors can still run afoul of digital crime laws like the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) when they employ adversarial machine learning. This “poisoned data” results in systems learning things they shouldn’t. Current federal and state computer-crime laws need to reflect these more sophisticated AI attack methods so that, you know, the machines don’t win.

Get more DEF CON 2021 insights from our Research team on Tuesday, August 10

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