Tuesday, October 9, 2018

BH18: Keynote! Parisa Tabriz

Jeff Moss, founder of Blackhat, started out the first session at the top of the conference, noting several countries have only one person from their country here – Angola, Guadalupe, Greece, and several others. About half of the world’s countries are represented here this year! Blackhat continues to offer scholarships to encourage a younger audience to attend, who may not be able to afford to. Over 200 scholarships were awarded this year!

To Jeff, it feels like the adversaries have strategies, and we have tactics – that’s creating a gap. Think about address spoofing – it’s allowed and turned on on popular mobile devices by default, though most consumers don’t know what it is and why they should turn it off.

With Adobe Flash going away, beliefs out there are this will increase SPAM and change that landscape. We need to think about that.

Parisa Tabriz, Director of Engineering, Google.
Parisa has worked as a pen tester, engineer and more recently as a manager. She has often felt she was playing a game of “whack-a-mole” – how do we get away from this? Where the same vuln (or a trivial variation of another vuln) pops up over and over. We have to be more strategic in our defense.
Blockchain is not going to solve our security problems. (no matter what the vendors in the expo tell you…)

It is up to us to fix these issues. We can make great strides here – but we have to realize our current approach is insufficient

We have to tackle the root cause, pick milestones and celebrate and build out your coalition.  We need to invest in bold programs – building that coalition with people outside of the security landscape.

We cannot be satisfied with just fixing vulnerabilities. We need to explore the cause and effect – what causes these issues.

Imagine a remote code execution (RCE) is found in your code – yes, fix it, but figure out why it was introduced (the 5 Whys)

Google has started Project Zero – Make 0-Day Hard. Project Zero was formed in 2014, treats Google products like 3rd party. Finding thousands of vulnerabilities. But they want to achieve the most defensive impact from any vulnerabilities they find.

Team found that vendor response varied wildly in the industry – and it never really aligned with consumer needs. There is a power imbalance between security researcher and the big companies making the software. Project Zero has set a 90 day release time line, which has removed the negotiation between a researcher and the big company. A deadline driven approach causes pain for the larger organizations that need to make big changes – but it is leading to positive change at these companies. They are rallying and making the necessary fixes internally.

One vendor improved their patch response time by as much as 40%! 98% of the issues are fixed within the 90-day disclosure period – a huge change!  Unsure what all of those changes are, but guessing it’s improved processes, creating security response teams, etc.

If you care about end user security, you need to be more open. More transparency in Project Zero has allowed for more collaboration.

We all need to increase collaboration – but this is hard with corporate legal, process and policies. It’s important that we work to change this culture.

The defenders are our unsung heroes – they don’t win awards, often are not even recognized at their office. If they do their job well, nobody notices.

We lose steam in distraction driven work environments. We have to project manage, and keep driving towards this goal.

We need to change the status quo – if you’re not upsetting anyone, then you’re not going to change the status quo.

One project Google is doing to change the world is to move people away from HTTP and to HTTPS on the web platform.  Not just Google services, but the entire world wide web.  We wanted to see a web that was by default secure – not opt-in secure. The old Chrome browser didn’t make this as obvious to users which was the better website – something to work on.

Browser standards come from many standards bodies, like IETF, W3C, ISO, etc – and then people build browsers on top of those using their own designs. Going to HTTPS is not as simple as flipping a switch – need to worry about getting certificates, performance, managing the security, etc.

Did not want to create warning fatigue, or to have it be inconsistently reported (that is, a site reported as insecure on Chrome, but secure on another browser).

Needed to roll out these changes gradually, with specific milestones we could celebrate. Started with a TLSHaiku poetry competition, which led to brainstorming.  Shared ideas publicly, got feedback from all over, and helped to build support internally at Google to drive this. Published a paper on how to best warn users.  Published papers regarding who was and was not using HTTPS. 

Started a grass root effort to help people migrate to HTTPS. Celebrated big conversions publicly, recognizing good actors.  Vendors were given a deadline to transition to, with clear milestones to work against, and could move forward. Had to work with certificate vendors to make it easier and cheaper to get certificates.

Team ate homemade HTTPS cake and pie! It is important to celebrate accomplishments, acknowledge the difficult work done. People need purpose – it will drive and unify them.

Chrome set out with an architecture that would protect a malicious site from attacking your physical machine. But, now with lots of data out there in the cloud, has grown the cross site data attacks.  Google’s Chrome team started the Site Isolation project in 2012 that prevented the data from moving that way.

We need to continue to invest in ambitious proactive defensive projects.

Projects can fail for a variety of reasons – management can kill the project, for example.  The site isolation project was originally estimated to be a year, but it actually took six….. schedule delay at that level puts a bulls-eye on you.  Another issue could be lack of peer support – be a good team player and don’t be a jerk!

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