DEF CON 23 – Marquis-Boire, Marschalek, Guarnieril – F the attribution, show us your .idb

Over the past few years state-sponsored hacking has received attention that would make a rockstar jealous. Discussion of malware has shifted in focus from ‘cyber crime’ to ‘cyber weapons’, there have been intense public debates on attribution of various high profile attacks, and heated policy discussion surrounding regulation of offensive tools. We’ve also seen the sale of ‘lawful intercept’ malware become a global trade.

While a substantial focus has revolved around the activities of China, Russia, and Iran, recent discoveries have revealed the capabilities of Western nations such as WARRIORPRIDE aka. Regin (FVEY) and SNOWGLOBE aka. Babar (France). Many have argued that digital operations are a logical, even desirable part of modern statecraft. The step from digital espionage to political persecution is, however, a small one. Commercially written, offensive software from companies like FinFisher and Hacking Team has been sold to repressive regimes under the guise of ‘governmental intrusion’ software.

Nation state hacking operations are frequently well-funded, difficult to attribute, and rarely prosecuted even if substantive evidence can be discovered. While efforts have been made to counter this problem, proof is hard to find and even more difficult to correctly interpret. This creates a perfect storm of conditions for lies, vendor lies, and flimsy attribution.

In this talk we will unveil the mess happening backstage when uncovering nation state malware, lead the audience on the track of actor attribution, and cover what happens when you find other players on the hunt. We will present a novel approach to binary stylometry, which helps matching binaries of equal authorship and allows credible linking of binaries into the bigger picture of an attack. After this session the audience will have a better understanding of what happened behind the scenes when the next big APT report surfaces.

Speaker Bios:
Morgan Marquis-Boire is a Senior Researcher at the Citizen Lab, University of Toronto. He is the Director of Security for First Look Media and a contributing writer for The Intercept. Prior to this, he worked on the security team at Google. He is a Special Advisor to the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco and an Advisor to the United Nations Inter-regional Crime and Justice Research Institute. In addition to this, he serves as a member of the Freedom of the Press Foundation advisory board and as an advisor to Amnesty International.

Marion is a malware reverse engineer on duty for Cyphort Inc., focussing on the analysis of emerging threats and exploring novel methods of threat detection. She teaches malware analysis at University of Applied Sciences St. Pölten and frequently appears as speaker at international conferences. Two years ago Marion won Halvar Flake’s reverse engineering challenge for females, since then she set out to threaten cyber criminals. She practices martial arts and has a vivid passion for taking things apart. Preferably, other people’s things.

Claudio is a security researcher mostly specialized in the analysis of malware, botnets and computer attacks in general. He’s a core member of The Honeynet Project and created the open source malware analysis software Cuckoo Sandbox and Viper and runs the Malwr free service. Claudio published abundant research on botnets and targeted attacks and presented at conferences such as Hack In The Box, BlackHat, Chaos Communication Congress and many more. In recent years he devoted his attention especially on issues of privacy and surveillance and published numerous articles on surveillance vendors such as FinFisher and HackingTeam with the Citizen Lab as well as on NSA/GCHQ and Five Eyes surveillance capabilities with The Intercept and Der Spiegel. Claudio also contributes to Global Voices Advocacy. He continuously researches and writes on government surveillance and threats to journalists and dissidents worldwide and supports human rights organisations with operational security and emergency response.

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