Dave Bullock / eecue

photographer, engineering leader, nerd


2007 HDR Year in Review

Here is a short movie I put together of my HDR photos from this past year:

Note that the images aren't actually in order. If you're interested, the full resolution Quicktime movie can be found here [~100MB].

Update: My friend Steve Kesler asked me how I put this movie together. It was actually pretty straight forward. I just exported the images from my photo management application (LightRoom) and then in Quicktime I selected File > Open Image Sequence. I then selected the first image in that folder. It takes a few minutes to process the images and then I saved and uploaded in to blip.tv.


DV Expo 2007 on WIRED

DV Expo : WIRED News Gallery

Two weeks ago I shot the DV Expo in Downtown Los Angeles for WIRED News. The gallery went live on the front door of wired.com today. This is the first time I've had two pieces on the front door of WIRED News at the same time. I'm really really really looking forward to my first magazine assignment, if I ever get one!


Black Hat 2007 : Day 2 : Chris Paget

Chris Paget stirred up much controversy at Black Hat DC with the release of his RFID cloner. The cloner can be easily built with "a high school level of electronics" and some free time. Unfortunately, due to the threat of a massive patent lawsuit he is unable to release the schematics or source code for the cloner. He demoed his cloner and it was quite effect in cloning RFID cards that operate in the 134 kHz range. He also showed that the RFID tinfoil "shields" are completely ineffective for the 134 kHz RFID cards. Here are some photos of Paget and his cloners:

Chris Paget

Chris Paget RFID Cloner

Chris Paget

And that's it for my Black Hat 2007 live blogging... it's time to meet up with the wife and drink! More to come from Defcon. =]


Black Hat 2007 : Day 2 : Mike Spindel, Eric Schmiedl and Charlie Miller

This is going to be a short post, but here are a few photos from today. Mike Spindel and Eric Schmiedl gave a talk about access control system, read locks, which was interesting and informative, but didn't have much ground breaking information, here are a couple of photos:

Eric Schmiedl

Mike Spindel

Charlie Miller gave a talk about hacking OS X, and talked about the recent root exploit he found on the iPhone. Luckily for the iPhone users out there, Apple released an update that fixed this problem, and it happened to come out the day before Black Hat started. Luckily for Apple, Miller is a white-hat hacker and he disclosed his findings to them several weeks before Black Hat, and let them know he would be talking about it and releasing the exploit code. Here is a photo from his talk:

Charlie Miller


Black Hat 2007 : Day 2 : Adam Laurie

During the first part of his talk, Adam Laurie demonstrated some of his new research on hotel safes in which he opened a hotel safe using only a paperclip and multi tool in under a minute. He had a member from the audience read the marketing hype from the safe manufacturer while he opened the safe and recovered his previously "safe" beer.

Adam Laurie

His talk was actually about RFID chips, which are Radio Frequency IDentification systems. They are passive chips that are activated by a radio signal. There are two types of chips, smart and dumb, the smart ones have circuitry that processes input and return a signal. Dumb chips just respond with a code when lit up with radio frequency. The dumb chips are used in everything from hotel keys to car keys to pet implants. RFID plants are also being implanted in humans for military access control, mental patient tracking, and even as a digital wallet for beach-goers.

The point that the manufactures always drives home is that the chips are unique and can't be duplicated. In actuality, RFID chips can be easily cloned with a device that costs under $20, which you can get plans and parts to build here. There are numerous other kits available to clone RFIDs. The RFID industry's response to the ability to clone chips was they they aren't true clones because they don't have "the same form factor." Laurie took this as a challenge and decided to to clone an RFID chip using the same form factor.

Assorted RFID Cards / Readers / Writers

He researched RFID tag types, and found two that are multi-format configurable and that can be loaded with user selectable data. He happened to be in possession of a Q5 [pdf download] reprogrammable tag from the office where he works. Using a simple keyboard wedge he read the ID of the chip he wanted to clone. He then used a program he wrote in python, called rfidiot, to reprogram the chip with the cloned ID. He demoed the whole thing in about 1 minute and it work as designed, good show.

He then demoed a clone of the animal implant chip, and rewrote the chip in his wrist (watch) to the same chip ID. Verichip uses the same type of chip for identification, but the difference is that they use a 4 digit country code instead of a 3 digit code and being that no commercial software can write a 4 digit country code. Luckily Laurie wrote software that can write any code, no matter how long, to the card, thus defeating the "security" of the Verichip.

Adam Laurie

The next part of his talk focused on "smart" RFID cards, which most notably are being used in passports, including those from the US and UK. These chips can use a combination of a psuedo-random UID, strong authentication (3DES) and content encryption. So far no countries are using encrypted content, mostly because there is no published standard as of yet.

The key happens to be printed on the passport, which to me anyway, defeats most of the benefit of having strong auth. Although the passports have the shared key printed inside the front cover, it is still possibly to brute force the key, as there is no brute force prevention built in to the passport RFID.

Adam Laurie

Although cloning the passport is trivial and just a matter of copying the files, modifying the data should not be possible because of the use of a Certificate Authority and public key infrastructure. The possibility of signing the passport with your own key has recently been avoided due to a public repository of keys, but this only came out in April, so until then it has been possible to modify passports.

The amount of systems that are implementing RFID for "secure" purposes is growing everyday. Clearly this technology has many vulnerabilities and major changes are needed to ensure the security of these systems. I'm glad I recently got a passport last year, and that it doesn't have an RFID chip in it.


Black Hat 2007 : Day 2 : Andrea Barisani & Daniele Bianco

Many modern cars have built in navigation / traffic systems. In North America data is transmitted over FM radio using the Radio Data System (RDS). The system can display station names, time, program type, and news override. The signal piggybacks on standard FM radio signals. RDS Traffic Message Channel (RDS-TMC) transmits traffic data over RDS and was introduced in Germany in 1997. Although it is a 10 year old protocol, it is just now being implemented in modern satellite navigation systems. TMC can also be transmitted over digital radio like DAB and Satellite radio.

Daniele Bianco

RDS is a very simple protocol with each packet consisting of 104 bits. The security issue with RDS is that it has no data authentication built in, which makes is easy to sniff and send fake messages using off the shelf components. The components to make a sniffer cost under $20 and can be easily made with very little technical skill according to the speakers. The specs and code for the PIC can be downloaded from the Inverse Path development website if you want to make your own RDS sniffer / injector.

Andrea Barisani

The injection code is still quite crude, as you have to edit the source and recompile every time you want to change what you are injecting. What's important is that it works, although it does happen to look somewhat like a bomb. When they brought their setup through TSA checkpoint, the TSA officer upon inspecting it, flipped a switch and said "boom". Barsiani said "apparently TSA officers are allowed to make jokes about bombs, which would get anyone else arrested."

RDS-TMC Injector / Sniffer

One of the features of RDS-TMS is the news override which forces your tuner to change stations to a different frequency. Barisani said they tested their system during a Saturday soccer match, which potentially enraged numerous Italians when their match was overridden by their radios tuning to a station with a carrier tone.

Some of the fun things you can do by injecting RDS-TMC messages is show fake road closures, traffic slow downs, dangerous weather, road work. You can also close roads and tunnels. The wacky stuff you can do is to display codes like: Terrorist Incident, Air raid danger, Air Crash, Bomb Alert, and a more generic Security Alert. The best one they showed though was "Bull Fight".

According to Barisani, his father was never impressed with his software and kernel hacking research, but when he showed him the RDS-TMC hacking his father said, "Wow, you have a cool job."

You can download Andrea Barisani and Daniele Bianco's CanSecWest 2007 presentation here [13mb PDF] and all the supporting files and schematics to make your own sniffer / injector here. Their website is Inversepath.com. [A complete list of the codes you can send can be found after the jump.]


Black Hat 2007 : Day 2 : John Heasman

BIOS is the system in your computer that initializes hardware, memory and loads basic user settings then finally loads a bootloader which will start your operating system. For years there have been methods of loading malicious code into a compromised host's BIOS, although physical access may be required.

John Heasman

One popular method of compromising a host through a BIOS is an option ROM rootkit. A rootkit prevents the user of a compromised system from being able to tell their system has been hacked by hiding traces of the malicious code, and thus gives full control of the compromised system to the attacker. A BIOS rootkit has multiple interrupts available to hook to including video, disk, and memory. Detection of this type of rootkit is fairly easy and is just a matter of dumping the content of the BIOS ROM.

Another method of of BIOS rootkitting is through ACPI, which is the hardware that controls power management of your system as well as provides temperature information to your operating system. ACPI has the ability to modify system memory and allow the attacker to deploy a rootkit. ACPI rootkits are independent of the operating system so will work on multiple platforms. ACPI is written in a high level language called AML that makes writing both malicious and non-malicious code easy. Not all operating systems have ACPI device drivers, and some prevent AML from accessing system memory by sandboxing it.

The Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) is the replacement for the legacy BIOS system. EFI reuses existing systems including FAT filesystem and ACPI. EFI is a much more robust system than BIOS and is also backwards compatible with BIOS. The implementation that Intel uses is called "The Framework," it is partially open source and it what is inside the new Intel based Apple OS X systems.

There are many ways to get code into the EFI environment. An attacker can modify the bootlader directly, modify bootloader varibles in NVRAM, modify and reflash firmware or exploit an implementation flaw in the driver. Once the attacher is in, they can shim a boot service, modify an ACPI table like in the tradition BIOS attack, load an SMM driver, or hook interrup handlers. Modifying the boot loader is actually quite simple in Mac OSX as the bootloader binary is located in user disk space: /System/Library/CoreSerbvice.boot.efi. This isn't very stealthy as you are modifying a file on disk which could easily be detected by verifying checksums with an application like tripwire.

System Management Mode (SMM) is a "get out of jail free bard" for system designers. It allows an attacker to execute code that is hidden from the operating system like virtualization rootkits. EFI provides various protocols and a set of services for accessing SMM. SMM is normally used for error logging, enabling/disabling ACPI, power button spport when not using ACPI and various other system workarounds. SMM may be triggered on external events, I/O events, and timed events. SMM has been used in the past to disable BSD securelevel by Loic Duflot [PDF Download].

John Heasman

Detecting an SMM rootkit would be very difficult as hardware breakpoins to SMM and SMM memory access can be blocked. There currently is no SMM malware because bugging SMM code requires a hardware analyzer and the platform may be already using SMM.

The bottom line is that with the added functionality, EFI offers an attacker many more options than BIOS for exploitation. The EFI specification is not very clear with regards to security which will result in various vendors implementing insecure versions of EFI. In the future look out for nasty rootkits based on EFI.

John Heasman

John Heasman is an employee of Next Generation Security Software. The information in this post came from his "Hacking the Extensible Firmware Interface" talk at the Black Hat 2007 Briefings in Las Vegas.


Black Hat 2007 : Day 1 : Assorted

Ok, I'm getting tired, I didn't get much sleep last night after driving from LA to Vegas. Here are some photos I shot at the last group of sessions:

Brad Hill




Black Hat 2007 : Day 1 : Phil Zimmermann

In case you haven't noticed I'm liveblogging Black Hat 2007. I just watched the end of Phil Zimmermann's talk about his new VoIP encryption product / SDK: ZPhone. Z-Phone is an application that allows you to make secure, encrypted phone calls over the internet using standard VoIP protocols. As with Zimmerman's other well known project PGP, the source code and software is given away for free.

During the question and answer session he talked about his disdain for software patents, but added that he had recently applied for a patent for the ZPhone protocol, with an interesting twist. He is using the patent for good, and here is how: Part of the patent states that any time a key is copied and stored (which would allow a party to monitor / wiretap the call) a flag is set on that session that designates the wiretapping. This won't prevent interested parties from not using the flag, but it will prevent them from using the free license for ZPhone and thus force them to disclose that their product is wiretap friendly.

Here are some photos from the talk:

Phil Zimmermann

Phil Zimmermann

Phil Zimmermann

I just heard this random quote in the press pen: "Our experience is to stay off the wireless network at Defcon, we actually got hacked into a few years ago." I bring my own out of band connection with me to all security conventions and even with that I still do all my surfing / blogging / emailing through an ssh tunnel to a trusted server.


Black Hat 2007 : Day 1 : Dan Kaminsky

Dan Kaminsky just gave a talk about the nasty things that service providers are doing to your network traffic, how it relates to network neutrality and how to detect it. Basically nearly all router manufacturers are working on technology to do hostile things to your internet traffic, including slowing certain parts of it, monitoring it, modifying it in real time to do mean things like put their own ads in your web pages or worst of all, storing it and selling it.

Dan stated that this kind of trickery is going to either make web advertising obsolete, or force most if not all web traffic to be encrypted. If ISPs don't wake up and realize that what they're doing is wrong and bad the effect on the current internet ad market will be bad. I never thought of network neutrality as more than just shaping traffic or preferred routing, but Dan opened my eyes to the ugly things that vendors and ISPs are doing to our data.

Here are some photos from his talk:

Dan Kaminsky

Dan Kaminsky

His grandma is in the audience, and he was giving away some of her cookies to people who asked good questions:

Dan Kaminsky

Dan Kaminsky


Black Hat 2007 : Day 1 : Richard Clarke + Swag Bag

I'm attending the Black Hat Briefings in Las Vegas. I just caught the tail end of Richard Clarke's keynote speech. One thing he said in a final question that I thought was really cool and spot on is that the government should be monitoring terrorists and hacking in to their computers, but should not be monitoring everyday citizens. I wish more government (or former government) officials felt this way as well.

This Black Hat is the largest ever with over 4,000 attendants. They completely streamlined the registration process and it is operating much more smoothly than last year.

Here are some photos from his talk:

Richard Clarke

Richard Clarke

Richard Clarke

And here is what came in the swag bag:

Black Hat Swag Bag


Pixelodeon 2007

Here are some of the photos I took at Pixelodeon 2007:


Micki and Sean Bonner

Ryan Block

Mark Goodson Theater Booth

Douglas Sarine

Matthew Mullenweg : Photo Matt

More photos can be found on blogging.la and in my full Pixelodeon 2007 gallery.


Great American Boycott 2007 Photos

Protesters and Placards

Protest Crowd


I just got back from the Great American Boycott of 2007, an immigrant rights protest in Downtown Los Angeles. The turnout wasn't as strong as La Gran Marcha last year but I estimate between 100,000 and 250,000 people are currently walking down Broadway. I just got word that they have just reached City Hall and when I left 6th and Broadway they were still coming down all the way back to Olympic.

I am currently uploading photos, please stand by. Protesters

Update According to the LA Times my numbers are way off, they say it was in the tens of thousands.

Parents and Children Titanic Protesters Patriot Protest Crowd Protesters Protesters on Broadway Protesters Protesters Protest Crowd from Above We are immigrants, not criminals, not te Gary Leonard No Cruzamos el Bordo... Protesters and Placards

Great American Boycott 2007 Preview

Here are some photos I shot a few minutes ago while waiting for the protest to start. I will be back out there shooting more shortly.

Giant American Flag

Sparky the DWP Fire Hydrant

Ok, so the last one of Sparky the DWP fire hydrant wasn't really part of the protest, but I did run in to him on the way over there. More coverage coming shortly on here, blogging.la and http://www.flickr.com/photos/eecue/tags/greatamericanboycott2007/.

LAFD Air 4 Flag Vendor Handbills Pre-Protest Nexxo Placards Sparky the DWP Fire Hydrant