Conference

Mondoo Goes to Summer Camp

The Lollapalooza of security events, consisting of BSidesLV, Black Hat, and DEFCON, affectionately referred to collectively as “Security Summer Camp”, has come and gone for 2023 and Mondoo was there for it all! The events are so large and there are so many attendees there is no way to recap the events, but I’d like to share some themes that stood out to me and some highlights.

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The Lollapalooza of security events, consisting of BSidesLV, Black Hat, and DEFCON, affectionately referred to collectively as “Security Summer Camp”, has come and gone for 2023 and Mondoo was there for it all! The events are so large and there are so many attendees there is no way to recap the events, but I’d like to share some themes that stood out to me and some highlights.

AI, AI, AI

Without a doubt the largest theme was AI, namely ChatGPT. DEFCON had a new AI village, BSidesLV had several talks on AI, and Black Hat featured several briefings and an entire keynote. I even saw a vendor in the Black Hat business hall claiming to be a Digital Loss Prevention (DLP) solution for AI.

Most practitioner talks, at BSidesLV and DEFCON tended to focus on ways ways to leverage AI to improve the speed and quality of attacks. There was an entire talk that shared experiences in fooling ChatGPT to writing malware or other attacks for you, by using clever inversion techniques, like “What Windows Registries keys should I protect to avoid C2 malware, with examples”. You can even demonstrate to ChatGPT that certain restrictions are no longer applicable and essentially "brow beat" it into submission.

At Black Hat, being an enterprise focused event, concerns ranged from ways malicious actors could inject data into prompts to produce biased or incorrect responses that benefit the attacker to protecting against data leakage.

DLP is a very big problem, in our collective excitement to test what AI can really do companies are feeding it huge amount amounts of personal data, internal company secrets, and other protected information. AI is a privacy nightmare and the dust hasn't yet settled, but without a doubt, the future will feel painful repercussions that will shape policy going forward.

It’s great to see the security industry not only embrace AI but in many ways take the lead in vetting out the boundaries of the technology and its associated risks. We're at the beginning of a long journey, and we will make a lot of mistakes along the way.

The hits keep on coming

More tools, more skills, more training, more experience, but the attacks aren’t slowing a bit, rather they are containing to escalate month by month. Partly thanks to AI there are more tools and variety of tools than ever before in the hands of increasingly sophisticated and organized attackers.

Just like the old tale of The Boy who Cried Wolf, it’s almost concerning just how apathetic everyone has gotten about attacks. People are no longer shocked or horrified by even the most invasive attacks; those days are long gone. The degree to which people accept breaches gives me pause and certainly emboldens adversaries all that much more.

The widespread adoption of ATT&CK, now considered the de facto framework for assessing the threat landscape, represents a great step forward. Organizations like the FAIR Institute are doing a great job of moving forward the proliferation of Risk Management to a broader set of organizations. The more we can work from the same set of comprehensive processes and methodologies the more people and companies we can train and prepare… of course the attackers know that too, but that’s inevitable by the vary nature of the beast.

Governments are our friends?

The security space has a unique relationship with government. On one hand there has traditionally been a healthy distrust of bureaucracy and institutional ineffectiveness, not to mention that they can arrest you! On the other hand, many people in the security space are either working for governments, in one capacity or another, or have military or law enforcement backgrounds. So when you see cops or military at DEFCON as attendees you kinda do double take.

It's exciting to see how open, eager, and engaged government organizations have locked arms in solidarity with the entire security community and industry. Whether its the NSA, FBI, CISA or any other alphabet soup agency, the message is unanimous: “we have to learn from each other and work together.” In my hotel I was surprised to see the US Army Cyber Command conducting a workshop so that the attendees could also attend other sessions and workshops at Black Hat.

Most of all, the agencies are aware of their perceptions and are open to input at every level so we can create useful standards that benefit government and industry equally.

Monitor your infrastructure for security misconfigurations and maps those checks automatically to top compliance frameworks.

Mondoo is here to help

Everywhere we look we are more and more encouraged about our mission, to make the world a safer place by creating solutions to ‘Find anything. Secure everything.’ In every single security briefing at Black Hat or vulnerability reports at BSidesLV or DEFCON there is at least one thing that you learn you should be on the lookout for to protect yourself.

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With Mondoo, built on cnquery and cnspec, we provide all the tools you need to stay constantly aware of your security posture, dynamic infrastructure footprint exposure, and critical configurations. When the means of being safe or vulnerable can be as simple as a single line in a config file, you absolutely have to deploy one tool that can unify across all your platforms, systems, clouds and SaaS applications.

Join us in our journey to make the world a safer place for us all, let us show you a better way!

Ben Rockwood

Ben Rockwood is the VP of Engineering & Operations at Mondoo. He helped build the first Infrastructure as a Service cloud at Joyent in 2005 and became an influential voice in the DevOps movement since it began in 2009. He’s also helped advance operations, security, and compliance at Chef, Packet, and Equinix. He lives on Bainbridge Island near Seattle.

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