LAS VEGAS: People around the world have been in a sporting mood this summer.
For many, it is because of the 2012 Olympic Games, which recently kicked off in London.
For those in the information security community, however, attention lies half a world away in Las Vegas, where the Black Hat conference took on a sporty tone of its own.
Though Black Hat usually involves plenty of talk about "offence" and "defence," this year's show seemed to take matters from the conference floor to the playing field as talk of gamesmanship dominated the show.
Talk of tactical manoeuvres began with the show's opening keynote. Black Hat founder Jeff Moss and former FBI executive Shawn Henry suggested that businesses go from a defensive posture to a more offensive tone, counter attacking and getting attackers on their heels.
Later in the day, however, those tactics would be called into question when Marcus Rahmun on Tenable security questioned whether businesses should be playing war games with international cybercriminals.
Rahmun noted that most companies in the private sector were ill-equipped to deal with many of the sophisticated, state-sponsored groups who carry out targeted attacks on businesses.
"I lose my cool when I hear people from the government saying that the private sector needs to step up," Ranum said.
"I am not qualified to carry out counter-intelligence against China, that is what the government is for."
Other researchers, meanwhile, enjoyed the thrill of a good hunt. Researcher Charlie Miller wowed the crowds at Black Hat when he presented the results of a months-long study into the security of near-field communication (NFC) devices in mobile handsets.
By dissecting the NFC system from its lowest levels upward, Miller was able to present a detailed analysis of how the system worked and where handsets could be vulnerable to attacks.
After concluding that the application layer and software interconnects were the weakest links in the chain, Miller successfully demonstrated attacks which allowed him to take control of and harvest sensitive data from both Android and Nokia handsets.
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