Firms Need ‘Tough Love’ In Struggle Against APTs

Black Hat is upon us and, with it, a lot of chatter about the dangers posed by so-called “APT,” or advanced persistent threats. Rather than get trapped in the hype bubble, Threatpost editor Paul Roberts took the opportunity to check back in with a recognized expert on detecting and combating APT-style attacks: Amit Yoran, the former CEO of NetWitness Corp. and now a Senior Vice President at RSA, The Security Division of EMC. Yoran says that the darkest days may yet be ahead in the fight against APT style attacks, with mounting attacks and a critical shortage of security talent. To cope, both private sector firms and the government need to stop fighting the last war and pivot to the kinds of practices and monitoring that can spot sophisticated attackers. 

Rethinking DEFCON

For nearly two decades, the DEFCON hacking conference has brought together people with an interest in investigating technology and cracking security. In recent years, however, DEFCON has suffered significant growing pains. Getting between sessions meant pushing through crowds reminiscent of major crossroads in Tokyo. Entering an almost-completed session to get a jump on the next was not allowed, so people lined up in the hallways, further clogging the byways. And, the smaller sessions — such as the lockpicking village — failed to offer a sanctuary from the crowds and were routinely packed as well. While attendees were always destined to miss the majority of the happenings at the conference, DEFCON increasingly seems to be more about moving from location to location, and less about all of the learning in between.

The hack of a commercially available insulin pump earlier this month at the DEFCON hacker conference has attracted the attention of members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, which is now calling for a formal review of wireless medical devices like the pump.

Editor’s note: Finding Aaron Barr at this year’s DEFCON hacker conference in Las Vegas was like a giant game of “Where’s Waldo.” Given the events of the past year, you can hardly blame him for keeping a low profile. First there was the attack on him and his then-employer, HBGary Federal, his decision to part ways with HBGary, his work to rehabilitate his image and turn his personal misfortunes into a ‘teaching moment’ for the industry, and then the legal wrangling in recent weeks that threw cold water on his plans to take part in a panel discussion about Anonymous at DEFCON. Barr was courted by numerous news outlets at the show, including the mainstream media. But he preferred, for the most part, to keep his counsel. So when Aaron offered to contribute his thoughts on this year’s DEFCON to Threatpost, we jumped at it. Here’s what he had to say.  

DEFCON, the cash-only, aliases-welcome hacker conference took place in the moral vacuum of Las Vegas, Nevada this weekend, as it has every Summer since 1993. This year there was no shortage of controversial presentations and panel discussions. If you were short the airfare, the $150 entrance fee, gave up on the three hour line-ageddon to pick up your badge or – admit it – your boss (or spouse) just wouldn’t let you go, have no fear. The show was crawling with media, including computer security reporters and even the mainstream media (CBS and NPR were there). Here’s our round up of some of the major stories to come out of this year’s DEFCON conference. 

By B.K. DeLongWith alleged Anonymous leadership such as Sabu and opponents such as th3j35t3r tweeting about their supposed shenanigans in Las Vegas, the question on everyone’s mind this week is whether Anonymous is truly walking the halls of this week’s Black Hat and DEFCON hacker conferences.  Some believe the answer to that question is almost certainly ‘yes’ but not for the reasons you might think – here’s my opinion based on several discussions I’ve had throughout the week.

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