A few years ago we made the difficult, and sometimes painful, shift to enable remote working in preparation for the opening of our UK and Cape Town offices. Some of you probably think this is a no-brainer, but the benefit of being in the same room as your fellow hackers can't be overlooked. Being able to call everyone over to view an epic hack, or to ask for a hand when stuck is something tools like Skype fail to provide. We've put a lot of time into getting the tech and processes in place to give us the "hackers in the same room" feel, but this needs to be backed with some IRL interaction too.
People outside of our industry seem to think of "technical" people as the opposite of "creative" people. However, anyone who's slung even a small amount of code, or even dabbled in hacking will know this isn't true. We give our analysts "20% time" each month to give that creativity an outlet (or to let on-project creativity get developed further). This is part of the intention of SenseCon: a week of space and time for intense learning, building, and just plain tinkering without the stresses of report deadlines or anything else.
But, ideas need input, so we try to organise someone to teach us new tricks. This year that was done by Schalk from House 4 Hack (these guys rocks) who gave us some electronic and Arduino skills and some other internal trainings. Also, there's something about an all-nighter that drives creativity, so much so that some Plakkers used to make sure they did one at least once a month. We use our hackathon for that.
Our hackathon's setup is similar to others - you get to pitch an idea, see if you can get two other team mates on board, and have 24 hours to complete it. We had some coolness come out of this last year and I was looking forward to seeing what everyone would come up with this time round.
Copious amounts of energy drinks, snacks, biltong and chocolates were on supply and it started after dinner together. The agreed projects were are listed below, with some vagueness, since this was internal after all :)
Keiran and Dane put our office discone antenna to good use and implemented some SDR-fu to pick up aeroplane transponder signals and decode them. They didn't find MH370, but we now have a cool plane tracker for SP.
Using wifi-deauth packets can be useful if you want to knock a station (or several) off a wifi network. Say you wanted to prevent some cheap wifi cams from picking you up ... Doing this right can get complicated when you're sitting a few km's away with a yagi and some binoculars. Charl got an arduino to raise a flag when it was successfully deauthed, and lower it when connectivity is restored for use in a wifi-shootout game.
Panda (Jeremy) and Sara ended up building local Maltego transforms that would allow mass/rapid scanning of large netblocks so you can quickly zoom in on the most vulnerable boxes. No countries were harmed in the making of this.
gcp and et decided on some good ol'fashioned fuzz-n-find bug hunting on a commercial mail platform, and websense. Along the way they learned some interesting lessons in how not to fuzz, but in the end found some coolness.
The hackathon went gangbusters; most of the team went through the night and into the morning (I didn't, getting old and crashed at 2am). Returning that morning to see everyone still hacking away on their projects (and a few hacking away on their snoring) was amazing.
Once the 24-hours was up, many left the office to grab a shower and refresh before having to present to the entire company later on that afternoon.
Overall this years SenseCon was a great success. Some cool projects/ideas were born, a good time was had AND we even made Charl feel young again. As the kids would say, #winning
The British Special Air Service (SAS) have a motto that's rather fitting for their line of work - Who Dares Wins
To a degree, the same could be said for our newly updated Hacking by Numbers course, Combat. Penetration testing is sometimes more than following a checklist or going for the easy kill. A good penetration tester knows how to handle all thrown at them, be it a Joomla implementation, or *shudder* an OpenBSD box.
What does prevail in these situations is very much a 'Who Dares Wins' attitude. Sure, you could just give up, report that the box is vulnerable to predictable TCP sequence numbers, issue the PDF and move on, right?
If you are like us, the above situation would drive you potty and you'd end up looking for other ways to obtain maximum pwnage. Thankfully help is at hand. Our newly updated Combat course aims to help you, the penetration tester, learn how to tackle these obstacles.
Using an approach similar to capturing the flag, we take you through a whole host of obstacles that you might find during a career in pwnage. This isn't a simple SQLi in a login form, or a basic file upload vuln exploitation class, but one that gets the creative juices flowing. From chaining low/medium vulnerabilities, to exploiting logic flaws, over the two days, you will be pushed on all seven layers.
The solutions lie much more in technique and an out-of-box thought process than in the use of scripts or tools. Each exercise is designed to teach a specific lesson and is discussed in detail upon completion with the group.
If you are looking at polishing up your pwnage skills, learning how to tackle CTF competitions like the infamous Defcon one, then this is for you.
We don't offer this course frequently, but this year we will be offering it at the amazing Hack In The Box in Amsterdam on the 27th May AND at Blackhat USA's new home at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on the 4th August
This evening we were featured on Channel 4's DataBaby segment (link to follow). Channel 4 bought several second hand mobile phones that had been "wiped" (or rather reset to factory default) from various shops. Our challenge was to recover enough data from these seemingly empty phones to identify the previous owners.
After a long night of mobile forensics analysis, we had recovered personal data from almost every phone we had been provided with. This information included:
iPhone devices encrypt their data by default, which makes it hard (almost impossible) to recover data after performing a factory reset. There are some attacks against iPhones older than 4s which may have more success.
Android devices by default have no encryption, which means that somebody (like us) could easily recover large amounts of supposedly deleted data. It's a good idea to keep your phone encrypted.
Both Windows phone 8 and BlackBerry allow optional encryption to be configured, but this is not enabled by default. Windows phone 7 does not support encryption of the core filesystem.
If you have an existing phone that you're about to sell we'd recommend you encrypt the phone twice after resetting it to factory default (once to destroy your data, the second time to destroy the key used for the first round).
Keep in mind, this applies to all storage media - hard drives on laptops, camera memory cards, etc. It's largely recoverable, even when seemingly deleted.
We would like to thank Paolo Dal Checco (@forensico) and fellow SensePost'er Vlad (@v1ad_o) for their help during the experiment.
On a legal note, the experiment was conducted on a laptop with full disk encryption, and *all* data was deleted after returning the phones to Channel 4.
Aah, January, a month where resolutions usually flare out spectacularly before we get back to the couch in February. We'd like to help you along your way with a reverse engineering challenge put together by Siavosh as an introduction to reversing, and a bit of fun.
Once you reached the final levels, you might need to spend some time understanding x86 assembly or spend some time refreshing it depending on your level. To help out, Siavosh created a crash course tutorial in x86 assembly for our malware workshop at 44con last year, and you can download that over here.
The zip file containing the reversing challenge and additional bytecode binaries could be found here.
Send your solution(s) to challenge at sensepost.com
Disclaimer: When using the term "virtual machine" we mean something like the Java Virtual Machine. A software based architecture that you can write programs for. This particular architecture, EvilGroupVM.exe, has nine instructions whose operation code (opcode) you need to find through binary reverse engineering.
The tools you will require are:
Windows: EvilGroupVM.exe <BytecodeFile>
Ubuntu Linux: ./EvilGroupVM <BytecodeFile>
The outcome of this exercise should include the following key structures in your report:
In case you missed it earlier, the zip file containing the reversing challenge and additional bytecode binaries could be found here.
Send your solution(s) to challenge at sensepost.com
With 2013 coming to a close, I thought it pertinent to look back at the year we've had and also forward to what's promising to be an incredibly exciting 2014 for us.
2013 for SensePost, was a year of transition. With a new leadership structure in myself, Shane and Dominic, we had a chance to stamp our style and vision and also learn from Charl and Jaco. One of the first leadership choices was to expand our reach and open our first office in London, aptly in a borough called Hackney. Here, we grew our family and welcomed some amazing people into the plak. After a few short months, we had outgrown the office and needed to look for bigger premises, this time in another aptly named area: Whitechapel (think Jack the Ripper).
Back in South Africa, after moving to bigger premises down the road, we finally got a chance to make it feel like home. These two new offices have allowed us to continue to grow at a steady pace, whilst still keeping the SensePost vision and vibe alive.
On a technical level, as this is what we are really about, we've had an amazing year. As part of this new vision, we made some key appointments:
Craig Swan, who originally was part of the assessments team and left, returned home to assume the role of Training Manager. On a training front, we've had one of the busiest years to date. From Blackhat in Las Vegas, Brasil and Seattle, to 44Con in London, for our friends in the US and our courses held in Southern Africa, we've trained hundreds of students in the art of offensive security. We've also created two new courses for the Hacking by Numbers series, one concentrating on mobile assessments and the other on malware reverse engineering. However, we are not resting on our laurels and with Craig on-board, 2014 is looking like being an amazing year for education at SensePost.
Victor Tadden, an experienced technical Project Manager, joined the assessment team to help us be more efficient with our delivery of projects. He brings with him a wealth of software dev experience and has already made a significant impact in the way we work, especially managing to wrangle pen testers together daily for scrum meetings, a feat many will tell you is akin to herding cats.
Tiago Rosado joined us from Portugal to head up our Managed Vulnerability Service, a key service line that many of our clients rely on for a more holistic view of their security posture. Our MVS service line is being revamped for 2014 and Tiago will help us achieve this.
Marc Peiser became our IT Manager and with him, brought a wealth of UNIX experience, having worked for a massive global bank. Marc's aim for 2014 is to ensure that our internal networks are not only robust but also allow us to do what we do. Surprisingly enough, we are frequently attacked and having defense in depth approach to IT is as important to us as it is to our clients.
Internally, we've welcomed some new family members, said goodbye to some.We value those who choose to work here very highly, we want work to be a creative environment where people can have fun, grow and most importantly enjoy coming to work. Nothing makes me more proud than seeing a plakker accepting new challenges, often defining the way the security industry works, or helping others with their security needs. As the penetration industry matures, one of my main goals for 2014 is to ensure that our proven hacker ethos remains.
2013 saw us presenting at conferences throughout the year and for the first time in our history, in a total of eight different countries over five continents. Our research included vulnerabilities in the Internet of things, distributed surveillance frameworks, security analysis of the Trustzone OS and Mobicore and finally using Spatial Statistics to detect Fast-Flux botnet Command and Control (C2) domains.
Technical prowess is still at the very heart of what we do at SensePost. We love to pwn and 2014 will see us continuing to write new tools, approach old problems with a new way of thinking and just being, well, us.
In November, after months of negotiations, came the news that we were to be acquired by SecureData Europe. This new chapter for us will usher in a new era of growth and development for us at SensePost and we are truly excited to be part of the SecureData Europe family.
Overall it was a fantastic year, especially for us, the new EXCO. I am extremely proud to stand alongside some incredibly talented people and call them colleagues and look forward to 2014 and what it brings.
From everyone at SensePost, we wish you a Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.