Home > Event, InfoSec > A Northern Geek’s trip South West

A Northern Geek’s trip South West

2019/06/30

June has been a busy month, hot on the heels from BSides London (review here), I again found myself on a train BSides-bound, this time heading for Liverpool.

Before getting to the tech, I’ll point out that this was my first time in Liverpool. After a very brief visit I found the city to be beautiful, conference location in the docklands certainly didn’t hurt; and I’ll be intending a return visit to hit the tourist spots as soon as I can manage it.

As I’m currently more response than I was with my London wrap, I’m not currently able to link to the talks’ recordings. But after watching Cooper and team run around diligently manning cameras and audio equipment I’m sure that they’ll be available shortly, and I’ll endeavour to update once they are,

The day got off to a bang courtesy of the welcome address, without repeating verbatim, it was an excellent sermon reading from the (un?)Holy Book of Cyber….

From there, I was fortunate enough to attend the (mostly) excellent talks below.

Key Note – Omri Segev Moyal

Reading Omri‘s talk abstract prior to the event, I was unsure I was going to agree with the premise “Focus on malware, not Infrastructure”. Thankfully it seemed I’d gotten the wrong impression, and instead of focusing on corporate infrastructure (as I’d expected), Omri covered malware analysis without focusing on the infrastructure required to do so.

Any long time reader may be aware that malware analysis was the initial goal that kicked off this humble blog (though I got distracted along the way); and those readers may also tie a link between the drop in post volume and me leaving access to a datacentre. Migrating to alternative models is something I’ve been working on in the background – but oh boy did Omri provide a firehose laden crash course to jumpstart that journey

I’ll not go too deep into technical detail of material covered, largely as I hope to implement some of the ideas in the coming weeks, covering in more detail once I’ve actually gotten my hands dirty myself. I will just say that the demo quickly spinning up a DNS sinkhole without (your own) infrastructure got the creative juices flowing – and was very in keeping with other talks of the day (but I’ll get to that later).

<update> Omri’s presentation deck can now be found here, with some associated code examples on GitHub </update>

Martin King – This is not the career you are looking for

It pains me to say it, as I’m not sure I can trust anyone who doesn’t like cheese; Martin dropped plenty of wisdom and advice for those contemplating a career in infosec, advice that I wish I’d had (and paid attention to) when I was starting out. I’m paraphrasing as my notes from the talk aren’t the best (Martin, please correct any point that’s been misquoted), but Martin’s top 10 tips:

  1. Today, Every company is an IT company.
  2. Never stop learning, and always be eager for more knowledge.
  3. You are the asset, your brain is more important than your muscles ability to mechanically tick boxes without impact.
  4. There’s MANY great free resources available, leaving no excuse for point 2.
  5. Learn to Google, knowing the answer is less important that always being able to find the answer.
  6. Don’t be the stereotypical infosec tech that hates people. People skills are more important that technical skills when it comes to being able to make an impact in an organisation.
  7. “Failure is the best teacher”
  8. Question everything; and automate everything else
  9. There’s as many paths into an infosec career as there are people with infosec careers: Being you is the best option.
  10. The industry is INCREDIBLE. Ask for support and you’ll (likely) get it.

Sean Lord – Deception Technology

With the topic being deception technology I was understandably looking forward to this talk. As Sean stated at the very beginning of the talk “this is not a vendor pitch”…..

Andrew Costis – LOL-Bins

For those unaware, LOL-Bins are nothing to laugh at: Living Of the Land Binaries are those tools that come (mostly) pre-installed on targeted operating systems that a hacker can leverage to achieve their goals without requiring additional software (which may trigger AV alerts).

Andrew did a good job of explaining the core concepts, the LOLBAS Project, Mitre ATT&CK framework, and most importantly; how it can all be brought together to strengthen resilience against intrusions.

Panel – How to submit a CFP

Takeaway from this session was simple, and invoked a certain brand: JUST DO IT!

Peter Blecksley – On the hunt

Yes, that, Peter Blecksley. This was the first talk that I was disappointed wasn’t recorded; but given the content of the session it’s not too surprising. Peter was an EXCELLENT speaker, detailing some of his former life undercover with Scotland Yard, in witness protection as a result, Hunted TV show and, most importantly, the particulars of his current man-hunt for “Britian’s most wanted fugitive” (head here to see if you can help).

Kashish Mittal – One Man Person Army

Kashish discussed his experiences building up several SOC teams, and the tips he’s learnt along the way.

One of the key pointers I took from the talk was the importance making an impact early, and building a reputation for getting results. Starting a new function within an organisation can be daunting, primarily because a complete version of that function has a laundry of capabilities you eventually need to be able to perform, but prioritise your goals and:

Secure > Document > Repeat

Ian Murphy – The logs don’t work

Like Omri’s keynote, I was dubious of Ian’s premise; but I found the talk far less provocative than the abstract suggested, and I found myself agreeing with all (most?) points made. Briefly:

  • Alert fatigue eventually mean even critical alerts end up being ignored. If an alert isn’t actionable, why are you alerting on it?
  • There’s not enough innovation in InfoSec. When Gartner claimed “IDS is Dead”, as an industry we changed the D to a P, and moved the same device in-line.
  • Assume breach; both already and will be in the future
  • Humans are always the weakest link.
  • Unless you’re a LARGE company, attempting to build a dedicated, fully functional SOC is nothing more than “a CISOs ego-trip”. Leverage the skillsets of specialists.

Jamie Hankins – WannaCry

I must start with a confession: Prior to this talk I don’t think I was aware of Jamie, or his proximity to the events of the WannaCry/NHS saga. That was a failing on my part, and one I’ll attempt to redress in the future.

I was also sat in the room early before the session, and was aware Jamie’s immense nervousness prior to his talk, being a first timer; I was genuinely worried that Jamie may truly bottle the session and run.

So, with all that said; what was the outcome when Jamie started? Best. Session. Of. The. Day. Seriously, I’ve no idea why Jamie was nervous, and judging by the rest of the audience shares my opinion.

Unfortunately, the session wasn’t recorded; for reasons that make sense when you consider the current ‘experiences’ of Jamie’s partner in (not) crime after getting some media attention.

Keeping with the above, and honouring the request for no pictures (which was brilliantly ignored by an attendee in the front row, despite the bouncing “no photos” screensaver projected on stage); I’ll refrain from covering most of the talk, but will share a couple of notes covering the wider.

  • NCSC’s CiSP platform and team are amazing – As a user of the platform during the incident in question I must concur. Seeing the industry come together and collaborate during an incident as ALWAYS amazing.
  • Doesn’t matter what is going on, everything gets dropped 12mins before Starbucks closes
  • The effort to prevent damage from Wannacry infections is continuing long after the media circus has subsided.

Beer Farmers

What can you say about a Beer Farmers’ talk? It was entertaining, engaging, and spoke a LOT of truth. But I wonder at the value of such a talk as it’s mostly preaching to the converted; and given the delivery style, I doubt it would be overly well received outside of the echo chamber.

Finux – Machiavelli’s guide to InfoSec!

Arron has come a long way since I was fortunate enough to listen to him speak nearly 10 years ago at an OWASP meet; But one thing that hasn’t changed is Finux’s enthusiasm for telling a story, getting a point across, and making an audience want to listen.

When audience were asked to raise their hands if they’d read Machiavelli’s work, mine remained down. So I was a little surprised to discover how well some of the teachings could be transcribed to the modern world, and InfoSec in particular. Especially as it would give speakers someone to quote other than SunTzu, I wonder if Arron will start a trend after pointing out the options.

Summing Up

Many, many thanks to BSidesLiverpool organisers, crew, goons, speakers and attendees. I wish I could have spent more time with all of you, thoroughly enjoyed the time we did share, and I hope to do it all again soon.


Andrew

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