August 8, 2006

Summer 2006 Security Tour Ends

Made it back from the whirlwind tail of my summer research tour around the world, featuring stops in Oakland (California), Cambridge (UK), Vancouver (CA), and Las Vegas (NV). I spent Tuesday through Thursday at the USENIX Security Symposium to present a wireless fingerprinting paper I co-authored with some guys from Sandia National Labs. There was actually a similar result presented at Black Hat this year, along with an actual 802.11 driver exploit to a vulnerability in Macbook drivers. Their fingerprinting technique is based on the different proportion of duration values in MAC frames. I think it's less sensitive to network conditions than ours, but requires that a client associate to an access point to actually fingerprint the driver (admittedly, not a huge requirement). Anyways, it was very cool presenting to a large USENIX crowd and helping to bring greater attention to the security of driver code. I spent most of my extra time in Vancouver working on slide animations and some latent simulations for my MorphMix research, so unfortunately didn't get to loaf around the city as much as I wanted to. From my very brief tour of Vancouver, though, the city seemed extremely clean, the people were friendly, and the weather was great, so it's on my list of places to revisit.

Thursday night I flew to Vegas. Chris, Cheney, and Mike picked me up from the airport and we made it to the Riviera, the hotel hosting Defcon and our three day stay. Thursday night I stayed up late finishing research via Chris's 802.11-enabled wifi network; 8 Kbps upload rate baby, all to myself.

Defcon started on Friday, two hours later than planned due to some delayed safety checks. Instead of getting into the boring details of Defcon, I'll summarize the main points from this year's academic gathering: LED-enhanced badge, smokey hotel, too many attendees, mediocre talks, overpriced shwag, and scene parties (where my friends and I had a large presence compliments of bondage tape, fishnet, and many, many glow sticks). The conference itself is nothing extraordinary, Vegas is a pretty terrible place, and the Riviera has to be one of the smokiest and most depressing of the large casino-hotels on the strip, but the weekend was still a great (and exhausting) experience. We upgraded to the Treasure Island buffet for our annual Saturday night buffet dinner and I ate with Googlers at an amazing Mediterranean restaurant far off the strip on Saturday night. Everyone was mostly behaved at the black and white balls, though the dirty details of both nights are best kept off the Internet. I also managed to have my own mini-adventure getting home that involved a last minute plane ticket purchased at 2am for a 6am flight, a missed alarm clock, and a long standby list out of Vegas on Sunday. Everyone made it home uninjured and without major hits to their wallets. Aside from some embarassing pictures, another happy and harmless Defcon was had by all.

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