Category Archives for "Russ White"

Weekend Reads 091418


You install a new app on your phone, and it asks for access to your email accounts. Should you, or shouldn’t you? TL;DR? You shouldn’t. When an app asks for access to your email, they are probably reading your email, performing analytics across it, and selling that information. Something to think about: how do they train their analytics models? By giving humans the job of reading it.

When you shut your computer down, the contents of memory are not wiped. This means an attacker can sometimes grab your data while the computer is booting, before any password is entered. Since 2008, computers have included a subsystem that wipes system memory before starting any O/S launch—but researchers have found a way around this memory wipe.

You know when your annoying friend talks about the dangers of IoT when you bragging about your latest install of that great new electronic doorlock that works off your phone? You know the one I’m talking about. Maybe that annoying friend has some things right, and we should really be paying more attention to the problems inherent in large scale IoT deployments. For instance, what would happen if you could get the electrical grid in Continue reading

Research: Tail Attacks on Web Applications

When you think of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, you probably think about an attack which overflows the bandwidth available on a single link; or overflowing the number of half open TCP sessions a device can have open at once, preventing the device from accepting more sessions. In all cases, a DoS or DDoS attack will involve a lot of traffic being pushed at a single device, or across a single link.

  • Denial of service attacks do not always require high volumes of traffic
  • An intelligent attacker can exploit the long tail of service queues deep in a web application to bring the service down
  • These kinds of attacks would be very difficult to detect


But if you look at an entire system, there are a lot of places where resources are scarce, and hence are places where resources could be consumed in a way that prevents services from operating correctly. Such attacks would not need to be distributed, because they could take much less traffic than is traditionally required to deny a service. These kinds of attacks are called tail attacks, because they attack the long tail of resource pools, where these pools are much Continue reading

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