Know thy Enemy

I recently attended BlueHat for the second time and spoke about the SMS vulnerabilities Collin Mulliner and I discovered and exploited this summer. BlueHat is an interesting speaking venue because the audience consists entirely of Microsoft employees. Some people might think security researchers speaking at Microsoft is like speaking before the enemy, but that is not the case (an actual example of that would have been when I talked about exploit sales at CERT a few years ago). The people I spoke with at Microsoft seemed genuinely interested in listening to what I had to say, learning how I look for bugs, and generally, how the adversary thinks. I think this is a good sign they take security pretty seriously, at least on some level. Hopefully, they got some value in listening to how I attack applications.

From my perspective, BlueHat is always very rewarding. I get a chance to speak with the folks at Microsoft who are in charge of product security. This year, I sat down with a large group responsible for the security of Windows Mobile. It’s always fascinating to hear what they are planning to do, what they were thinking when they made various decisions, what tools they have at their disposal, etc. However, just like I don’t tell them all my secrets, I’m sure they keep a few of their own, but I got the feeling that they were willing to tell me more about how they work than the last time I was out there, which is another positive sign.

There is the old Sun Tzu quote that goes ‘know thy enemy’. It’s not clear that this is entirely appropriate here, but BlueHat does provide a way for Microsoft employees to sit down and talk with top security researchers and I think both groups benefit from it by gaining insight into how the other group thinks. Now if only I could get them to stop automatically rebooting my computer and corrupting my IDA Pro databases….

-Charlie Miller, Independent Security Evaluators