Today was our 13th birthday. In Internet years, that's a long time. Depending on your outlook, we're either almost a pensioner or just started our troublesome teens. We'd like to think it's somewhere in the middle. The Internet has changed lots from when SensePost was first started on the 14th February 2000. Our first year saw the infamous ILOVEYOU worm wreak havoc across the net, and we learned some, lessons on vulnerability disclosure, a year later we moved on to papers about "SQL insertion" and advanced trojans. And the research continues today.
We've published a few tools along the way, presented some (we think) cool ideas and were lucky enough to have spent the past decade training thousands of people in the art of hacking. Most importantly, we made some great friends in this community of ours. It has been a cool adventure, and indeed still very much is, for everyone who's has the pleasure of calling themselves a Plak'er. Ex-plakkers have gone on to do more great things and branch out into new spaces. Current Plakkers are still doing cool things too!
But reminiscing isn't complete without some pictures to remind you just how much hair some people had, and just how little some people's work habit's have changed. Not to mention the now questionable fashion.
Fast forward thirteen years, the offices are fancier and the plakkers have become easier on the eye, but the hacking is still as sweet.
As we move into our teenage years (or statesman ship depending on your view), we aren't standing still or slowing down. The team has grown; we now have ten different nationalities in the team, are capable of having a conversation in over 15 languages, and have developed incredible foos ball skills.
This week, we marked another special occasion for us at SensePost: the opening of our first London office in the trendy Hackney area (it has "hack" in it, and is down the road from Google, fancy eh?). We've been operating in the UK for some time, but decided to put down some roots with our growing clan this side of the pond.
And we still love our clients, they made us who we are, and still do. Last month alone, the team was in eight different countries doing what they do best.
But with all the change we are still the same SensePost at heart. Thank you for reminiscing with us on our birthday. Here's to another thirteen years of hacking stuff, having fun and making friends.
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) recently hosted the nation Cyber Games Challenge as part of Cyber Security Awareness month. The challenge pit teams of 4-5 members from different institutes against each other in a Capture the Flag style contest. In total there were seven teams, with two teams from Rhodes university, two from the University of Pretoria and three teams from the CSIR.
The games were designed around an attack/defence scenario, where teams would be given identical infrastructure which they could then patch against vulnerabilities and at the same time identify possible attack vectors to use against rival teams. After the initial reconnaissance phase teams were expected to conduct a basic forensic investigation to find 'flags' hidden throughout their systems. These 'flags' were hidden in images, pcap files, alternative data streams and in plain sight.
It was planned that teams would then be given access to a few web servers to attack and deface, gain root, patch and do other fun things to. Once this phase was complete the system would be opened up and the 'free-for-all' phase would see teams attacking each others systems. Teams would lose points for each service that was rendered inaccessible. Unfortunately due to technical difficulties the competition did not go as smoothly as initially planned. Once the games started the main website was rendered unusable almost immediately due to teams DirBuster to enumerate the competition scoring system. The offending teams were asked to cease their actions and the games proceeding from there. Two teams were disqualified after not ceasing their attacks on official infrastructure. Once teams tried to access their virtual infrastructure new problems arose, with only the two teams from Rhodes being able to access the ESX server while the rest of the teams based at the CSIR had no connectivity. This was rectified, at a cost, resulting in all teams except for the two Rhodes teams having access to their infrastructure. After a few hours of struggle it was decided to scrap the attack/defence part of the challenge. Teams were awarded points for finding hidden flags, with the most basic flag involving 'decoding' a morse-code pattern or a phrase 'encrypted' using a quadratic equation. It was unfortunate that the virtual infrastructure did not work as planned as this was to be the main focus of the games and sadly without it many teams were left with very little to do in the time between new 'flag' challenges being released.
In the days prior to the challenge our team, team Blitzkrieg, decided to conduct a social engineering exercise. We expected this to add to the spirit of the games and to introduce a little friendly rivalry between the teams prior to the games commencing. A quick google search for "CSIR Cyber Games" revealed a misconfigured cyber games server that had been left exposed on a public interface. Scrapping this page for information allowed us to create a fake Cyber Games site. A fake Twitter account was created on behalf of the CSIR Cyber Games organisers and used to tweet little titbits of disinformation. Once we had set-up our fake site and twitter account, a spoofed email in the name of the games organiser was sent out to all the team captains. Teams were invited to follow our fake user on twitter and to register on our cyber games page. Unfortunately this exercise did not go down too well with the games organisers and our team was threatened with disqualification or starting the games on negative points. In hindsight we should have run this by the organisers first to insure that it was within scope. After the incident we engaged with the organisers to explain our position and intentions, they were very understanding and decided to not disqualify us and waver any point based penalty. As part of our apology, we agreed to submit a few challenges for next years Cyber Games.
Overall we believe concept of using structured Cyber Games to promote security awareness is both fun and useful. While the games were hampered by network issues there was enough content available to make for an entertaining and exciting afternoon. The rush of solving challenges as fast as possible and everyone communicating ideas made for an epic day. In closing, the CSIR Cyber Games was a success, as with all things we believe it will improve over time and provide a good platform to promote security awareness.
For the defacement phase of the games we made a old school defacement page.
In South Africa its not hard to find causes to support, but one that's particularly close to my heart is the Little Lambs Christian Daycare in a township in Cape Town called 'Imizamo Yethu' (The People Have Gathered).
The Little Lambs Daycare provides Early Childhood Development services and care to the poor in the community of Imizamo Yethu. The daycare operates 5 days per week and 12 Staff members — also from the community — cater and provide a safe learning space for 200 children aged 1 to 6 while their parents can seek work in the nearby town. I've been involved with the daycare for many years now and so I use every opportunity to raise awareness and support for the important work its doing. One way to do that is through a hobby ... endurance running.
Over the last 4 years I've run across the hottest, driest and harshest deserts in the world, over 250km at a time and completely self-supported, as a competitor in the 4 Deserts rough-country endurance footrace series. A unique collection of world-class events that take place over 7 days and 250 kilometers in the largest and most forbidding deserts on the planet. In line with the competition's ethos I've tried to use the interest the races generate to help raise awareness and support for Little Lambs.
This year I face my greatest challenge - a 6 day, 250km self-supported foot race in Antartica. Sixty individuals representing nearly thirty countries are expected to compete in over terrain that will be largely snow (from a few centimeters to a meter deep) with temperatutes as low as -20 °C.
I'm hoping to raise R 200 (about $ 20) for every kilometer I run - raising R 50,000 in total for this beautiful and important project.
I can't vouch for the security of the donations site. But if you're not comfortable to leave your CC details in there, please contact me and I'll give you details for a direct transfer. Please don't hack them though ... that's not what Jonny meant with 'I Hack Charities'.
Here are all the links:
1. Little Lambs - http://www.littlelambs.org.za/
2. The 'Help Lambs Run' Facebook page, where I post news and updates - http://www.facebook.com/HelpLambsRun
3. Racing the Planet - http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/
4. Donations site (for donating, not hacking) - http://www.doit4charity.org.za/fundraising/Charl.van.der.Walt
Shane Kemp, Daniel Cuthbert and Dominic White will be promoted to Global Sales Manager, Chief Operations Officer and Chief Technology Officer respectivley and will join SensePost's senior leadership structures, effective 01 October 2012.
The three new c-levels, along with a number of other emergent leaders, will be commencing a training and development program spanning a number of months as they gradually assume their new responsibilities.
These appointments follow on recent promotion of Yvette du Toit to Business Development Manager for the Africa region, Rogan Dawes as Assessments Manager as well as Behrang Fouladi and Ian de Villiers to our recently established Research Division (more on that to come).
We have a vision to build a dynamic global business that will impact our clients and the community in general in a lasting and meaningful way. To achieve that we need to attract the best people in the game and give them every opportunity to develop, to achieve and ultimately to make their mark on our business and our industry. These appointments will not only stretch and challenge these three guys and their teams, it will also optimally position SensePost to leverage of its current position of strength to redefine itself, innovate and grow.We were looking for a new generation of leaders who not only had the required skill and experience, but who also represented our company's core values of honesty and integrity combined with technical excellence and passion a for information security. We believe that in this team we have that. We expect that over time the new leaders will bring their own unique style to the way SensePost is run, but we're confident that the technical, business and ethical values that have characterized us as a company over the last 13 years will remain intact.
We're proud of them all and wish them the best of luck!
First, some background on CREST in the form of blatant plagiarism...
CREST — The Council for Registered Ethical Security Testers - exists to serve the needs of a global information security marketplace that increasingly requires the services of a regulated and professional security testing capability. They provide globally recognised, up to date certifications for organisations and individuals providing penetration testing services.
For organisations, CREST provides a provable validation of security testing methodologies and practices, aiding with client engagement and procurement processes, and proving that your company is committed to providing testing services to the highest standard.
For individuals, CREST provides an industry leading qualification and career path for security penetration testers. By gaining a CREST certification you are proving that you are committed to your professional development in security testing.
CREST has been serving the industry as a pivotal player in the Penetration Testing landscape for many years now, and has also recently established a government-approved chapter in Australia.
There have been numerous discussions about CREST in South Africa over the years and we believe now is the time to take the conversation further. Ian Glover - President of CREST - will be in South Africa next week to deliver a presentation at the ITWeb Security Summit in Johannesburg, and this affords interested parties and excellent opportunity to discuss the concept with him.
With the support of ITWeb we're setting up a workshop to be held at the Sandton Convention Center from 10h00 to 12h00 on Thursday 17 May to meet with Ian, understand the process, and discuss a possible path forward.
Interested parties, whether from testing companies or clients, should please RSVP by commenting on this post (we'll keep it private) or mailing us via info <at> sensepost <dot> com.
Be part of the discussion. We look forward to hearing from you!