Category Archives: Security

Speaking at NDC London 2017

Stephen Haunts Speaking at NDC London 2017

Stephen Haunts Speaking at NDC London 2017

I am pleased to announce that I will be speaking again at NDC London in January 2017. For this conference my talk is called Hacking Humans : Social Engineering Techniques and How to Protect Against Them.

Social engineering is one of the biggest threats to our organisations as attackers use manipulation techniques to coerce people into revealing secrets about our companies to allow attackers to gain access to critical systems.

In this talk we will look at some of the techniques used in social engineering and look at how to guard yourself against them. We will cover subjects like pre-texting, elicitation and body language as techniques for manipulating people.

I am really looking forward to doing this talk and I think it will be a lot of fun for the audience as we explore techniques for manipulating people and then how to protect against them.

Slides for my NDC Oslo Talk : .NET Data Security – Hope is not a Strategy

Stephen Haunts Presenting at NDC Oslo

Stephen Haunts Presenting at NDC Oslo

I have just finished my talk at NDC Oslo on .Net Data Security. I have made the slides available on this blog. You can also grab some Sample Code in C# that goes along with the talk. Feel free to use any of the code in your own solutions.

The talk went very well to a packed room that had to have people standing as there were no seats left. I am very pleased with the result.

I covered a lot of ground in the talk, but if anyone is interested in following up on the techniques I discussed, then I have a course called Practical Cryptography in .NET which goes into a lot more detail than the talk.

If you don’t have access to Pluralsight but would like to watch the course, then please get in touch with me via the contact page on this blog and I can sort you out with a 30 day, unlimited access trial card for Pluralsight.

My Cryptography Talk at NDC London

The Video recording of my talk at NDC London is now available to watch on-line. This was my first major conference so it was a little scary, but I really enjoyed the experience. The room was about 2 thirds full and I got an excellent speaker rating at the end so I must have done something right.

Cryptography in .NET slides from NDC London Now Available

NDC London - Stephen Haunts - Cryptography in .NET

NDC London – Stephen Haunts – Cryptography in .NET

The slide deck from my Cryptography in .NET talk at NDC London are now available to download from this site. If you have any questions about this talk and it’s contents then please do either leave a comment here on this post, or get in touch with me from my contacts page.

Talking About Cryptography on Dot Net Rocks

Stephen Haunts on the Dot Net Rocks Show

Stephen Haunts on the Dot Net Rocks Show

Today I am on the Dot Net Rocks show talking about Cryptography with Carl and Richard. We talk mostly about secure ways to store passwords and also talk about Hybrid Cryptography where you use a combination of AES, RSA, and SHA256 to create a robust encryption scheme.

The show was a lot of fun to record. It is quite daunting when you are suddenly on a show that you have been listened too every week for 5 years, but Carl and Richard made the experience very easy going and fun.

Here is the show description.

Encrypt all the things! Carl and Richard talk to Stephen Haunts about how to use cryptography properly. And as it turns out, you don’t have to be a mathematician to put crypto to work for you! The conversation starts out focusing on password hashing – lots of ways to do it wrong, salting seems complicated, but in the end, there is a built-in, poorly named function in the .NET Framework that will give you proper leading edge password hashing, you just have to know what it is (check the links on the show page). From there Stephen talks about 2-way symmetric and asymmetric encryption. Best used together, and best used on any and all data that you have. Good stuff!

 

Limiting Windows 10 Privacy Concerns

The release of Windows 10 has been very successful for Microsoft, but there are growing concerns from people about the level of data and telemetry that Microsoft is capturing from key logging data, usage telemetry and data about application you are running (both legitimate and pirated).

There have been many articles and tips scattered around the internet about how to limit this, but I found a useful video on Youtube that talks you through tweaking Windows 10 to limit this data capture. This includes simple and obvious tweaks to the Windows 10 settings through to deleting specific windows services, modifying group policy, tweaking the registry and updating your host file to stop Microsoft calling out to their servers.

Whether you apply all of these, or just some of them it is up to you and how bothered you are by this. If you do all of these tips then you loose things like Cortana. It’s up to you and how paranoid you are about such privacy concerns.

EDIT: If you are running Windows 10 Home edition then you will not have access to the group policy editing tool.

EDIT: I have tried all these changes out on my Surface 3 (apart from the group policy bit as I am running home edition) and everything still seems to be working OK,

Password Based Key Derivation Function Iteration Counts

I have already spoken about Password Based Key Derivation Functions before on this blog and I have discussed secure password storage with PBKDF2 at length in my Pluralsight course, Practical Cryptography in .NET, but in this post I want to expand this a bit and talk about picking suitable iteration lengths for the PBKDF2 key derivation process.

Choosing a good number of iterations for PBKDF2

Choosing a good number of iterations for PBKDF2

A reader of this blog, Geoff Hirst, gave me a heads up to an episode of the Security Now podcast and specifically episode 512 where the recent security breach at LastPass was discussed. Luckily no one’s data was actually at risk due to their security policies and good use  of encryption, but the podcast talked about something that was interesting and that was, what should you set your PBKDF2 iteration count too?

I must admit I have always used round numbers like 50,000 or 100,000 but the podcast says this isn’t a good idea and you should use 5 figure number, beginning with a number larger than 2, but a random number which isn’t rounded up to specific whole number, as in 50,000 or 100,000.

By making this a random number that you do not disclose you are making an attackers life much harder as they have to get the iteration count correct. Of course you shouldn’t rely on this as a main piece of security information, but anything that can make an attackers life a little harder has to be a good thing.

If you are dealing with a system that has multiple users, why not randomly generate different iteration counts per user. Then if one user does get compromised and their password recovered, your other users are still safe as the attacker would still need to guess their number of iterations.