Herding Code 176: Jon McCoy on Hacking .NET

At NDC, Jon and K Scott talked to Jon  McCoy about hacking .NET and .NET developer security.

Download: Herding Code 176: Jon McCoy on Hacking .NET

Show Notes:

  • Intro and NDC talks
    • (00:30) Jon McCoy overviews his NDC talks, explaining how he got into security and some of the amazing things he’s found out about .NET about along the way, like using Java JARs inside .NET applications.
    • (02:55) Jon McCoy says that understanding IL and how the JIT works allows him to directly use assembly code and C++ from within .NET applications.
    • (03:45) K Scott asks Jon McCoy about some of the tools he showed during his talks. Gray Dragon is a memory injection program which allows injecting code and remapping while an application’s running. Gray Wolf allows editing an application’s IL code. In his talk, he demonstrates extracting his admin password from biometrics password with six clicks.
  • Developer security practices: obfuscation, unit tests, monitoring
    • (05:20) Jon G asks if obfuscation helps hide his code. Jon McCoy says it’s always reversible and there’s about a three month lag between obfuscator releases and workarounds. Just about anything that can be automated can be reversed.
    • (06:44) Jon McCoy recommends security unit tests for practices like SQL cleaning and throwing security exceptions. Monitoring for security exceptions will let you know someone’s attacking you – if someone has two years to attack you without you knowing, they’re going to get in.
    • (07:42) Attackers can target update mechanisms in desktop programs to target users throughout your enterprise. Also, the nature of .NET code makes it very difficult for antivirus software to detect when it’s doing something bad.
    • (08:30) Jon McCoy says there’s a security issue with Visual Studio in that it executes constructor code for controls as they’re loaded in the designer, so a malicious user can run code which runs under your user permissions.
  • Securing information on your computer: crypto and passwords
    • (09:40) Jon McCoy talks about some of the security practices he recommends: full disk crypto with TrueCrypt, using a hardware solution like YubiKey for long passwords, and using encrypted VMs as secure containers.
    • (11:12) Jon G asks Jon McCoy what he thinks of solutions like Keepass and LastPass. K Scott asks whether OpenID and OAuth help. Jon G laments that CardSpace never took off.
    • (12:47) Jon G asks if signed code helps secure code at all. Jon McCoy says it doesn’t really, since it’s not validated.
  • Businesses and security
    • (13:27) Jon G asks if Jon McCoy gets involved with forensics. Jon McCoy says he mostly works with small businesses who are being attacked or want to fix security issues.
    • (14:31) K Scott asks Jon McCoy if he deals with mobile device security. Jon McCoy discusses the security blind spots desktop and mobile developers have.
    • (15:23) Jon G asks what Jon McCoy thinks about two factor auth.
    • (16:22) Jon McCoy explains how his background as a developer helps him understand issues in a way that IT focused security experts don’t.
  • Defending against cracks
    • (17:20) Jon asks about defense against cracks. Jon McCoy says the motivation behind cracks and malware shifts – sometimes the bad guys are just after a proxy network, password cracking machines, or even free cloud storage. Malware distributors can really strike it rich by owning a computer that happens to be inside a big company; they can sell that access for a lot of money. Part of fighting an attack is understanding what’s motivating the attacker.
    • (19:07) Jon G talks about targeted attacks against employees using fake, infected PDF business documents – send to enough people and a few will open it. Jon McCoy says that’s why he advocates using a hardened VM for browsing the internet as well as using different e-mail addresses so you know unsolicited e-mails to an admin e-mail can’t be valid.
  • Resources: tools and papers
    • (20:13) Jon G asks for a little more information about the security tools Jon McCoy distributes on his site.
    • (20:47) Jon G asks about how Jon McCoy’s security disclosure policies. Jon McCoy says he generally keeps things secret long enough to give his clients a security advantage. He talks about a technique he used which phones home when obfuscated code is decompiled.
    • (21:51) Jon G asks Jon McCoy how he keeps up with things. Jon McCoy says things are pretty lonely, he’s off on his own most of the time. Jon G says it’s easy to forget that a lot of .NET runs on top of Win32 and COM.
    • (23:10) Jon G asks Jon McCoy for some reference for developers who are interested in learning more. Jon McCoy lists a few (referenced in the show links).

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