With 2013 coming to a close, I thought it pertinent to look back at the year we've had and also forward to what's promising to be an incredibly exciting 2014 for us.
2013 for SensePost, was a year of transition. With a new leadership structure in myself, Shane and Dominic, we had a chance to stamp our style and vision and also learn from Charl and Jaco. One of the first leadership choices was to expand our reach and open our first office in London, aptly in a borough called Hackney. Here, we grew our family and welcomed some amazing people into the plak. After a few short months, we had outgrown the office and needed to look for bigger premises, this time in another aptly named area: Whitechapel (think Jack the Ripper).
Back in South Africa, after moving to bigger premises down the road, we finally got a chance to make it feel like home. These two new offices have allowed us to continue to grow at a steady pace, whilst still keeping the SensePost vision and vibe alive.
On a technical level, as this is what we are really about, we've had an amazing year. As part of this new vision, we made some key appointments:
Craig Swan, who originally was part of the assessments team and left, returned home to assume the role of Training Manager. On a training front, we've had one of the busiest years to date. From Blackhat in Las Vegas, Brasil and Seattle, to 44Con in London, for our friends in the US and our courses held in Southern Africa, we've trained hundreds of students in the art of offensive security. We've also created two new courses for the Hacking by Numbers series, one concentrating on mobile assessments and the other on malware reverse engineering. However, we are not resting on our laurels and with Craig on-board, 2014 is looking like being an amazing year for education at SensePost.
Victor Tadden, an experienced technical Project Manager, joined the assessment team to help us be more efficient with our delivery of projects. He brings with him a wealth of software dev experience and has already made a significant impact in the way we work, especially managing to wrangle pen testers together daily for scrum meetings, a feat many will tell you is akin to herding cats.
Tiago Rosado joined us from Portugal to head up our Managed Vulnerability Service, a key service line that many of our clients rely on for a more holistic view of their security posture. Our MVS service line is being revamped for 2014 and Tiago will help us achieve this.
Marc Peiser became our IT Manager and with him, brought a wealth of UNIX experience, having worked for a massive global bank. Marc's aim for 2014 is to ensure that our internal networks are not only robust but also allow us to do what we do. Surprisingly enough, we are frequently attacked and having defense in depth approach to IT is as important to us as it is to our clients.
Internally, we've welcomed some new family members, said goodbye to some.We value those who choose to work here very highly, we want work to be a creative environment where people can have fun, grow and most importantly enjoy coming to work. Nothing makes me more proud than seeing a plakker accepting new challenges, often defining the way the security industry works, or helping others with their security needs. As the penetration industry matures, one of my main goals for 2014 is to ensure that our proven hacker ethos remains.
2013 saw us presenting at conferences throughout the year and for the first time in our history, in a total of eight different countries over five continents. Our research included vulnerabilities in the Internet of things, distributed surveillance frameworks, security analysis of the Trustzone OS and Mobicore and finally using Spatial Statistics to detect Fast-Flux botnet Command and Control (C2) domains.
Technical prowess is still at the very heart of what we do at SensePost. We love to pwn and 2014 will see us continuing to write new tools, approach old problems with a new way of thinking and just being, well, us.
In November, after months of negotiations, came the news that we were to be acquired by SecureData Europe. This new chapter for us will usher in a new era of growth and development for us at SensePost and we are truly excited to be part of the SecureData Europe family.
Overall it was a fantastic year, especially for us, the new EXCO. I am extremely proud to stand alongside some incredibly talented people and call them colleagues and look forward to 2014 and what it brings.
From everyone at SensePost, we wish you a Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.
Botconf'13, the "First botnet fighting conference" took place in Nantes, France from 5-6 December 2013. Botconf aimed to bring together the anti-botnet community, including law enforcement, ISPs and researchers. To this end the conference was a huge success, especially since a lot of networking occurred over the lunch and tea breaks as well as the numerous social events organised by Botconf.
I was fortunate enough to attend as a speaker and to present a small part of my Masters research. The talk focused the use of Spatial Statistics to detect Fast-Flux botnet Command and Control (C2) domains based on the geographic location of the C2 servers. This research aimed to find novel techniques that would allow for accurate and lightweight classifiers to detect Fast-Flux domains. Using DNS query responses it was possible to identify Fast-Flux domains based on values such as the TTL, number of A records and different ASNs. In an attempt to increase the accuracy of this classifier, additional analysis was performed and it was observed that Fast-Flux domains tended to have numerous C2 servers widely dispersed geographically. Through the use of the statistical methods employed in plant and animal dispersion statistics, namely Moran's I and Geary's C, new classifiers were created. It was shown that these classifiers could detect Fast-Flux domains with up to a 97% accuracy, maintaining a False Positive rate of only 3.25% and a True Positive rate of 99%. Furthermore, it was shown that the use of these classifiers would not significantly impact current network performance and would not require changes to current network architecture.
The scripts used to conduct the research are available on github and are in the process of being updated (being made human readable): https://github.com/staaldraad/fastfluxanalysis
The following blogs provide a comprehensive round-up of the conference including summaries of the talks: