Choose your language:

Hong Kong
New Zealand
United Kingdom
United States
hooded hacker behind laptop

Scariest hacks from this year’s Black Hat and DEF CON conferences

August 24, 2015
By Sarah O’Connor

You may remember July’s story in Wired about the Jeep Cherokee that was hacked on Interstate 64, where two researchers wirelessly controlled the vehicle’s dashboard, steering and brakes. The secrets to this exploit were revealed at Black Hat USA 2015, held in Las Vegas from August 1–6, along with other sessions on current industry trends, mobile threats and cyber security. DEF CON 23, one of the oldest hacker conventions, picked up where Black Hat left off, and ran from August 6–9 in Las Vegas. A few highlights are below.

At Black Hat, researchers talked about Stagefright, a vulnerability where hackers can control an Android device via sending a text message. Since Android downloads media in an MMS before the text appears on the screen—and the flaw extends beyond just MMS— the threat of compromise is high. Patches have been deployed, so check your phone for updates.

Security researchers also explained how they hacked into a TrackingPoint rifle at this year’s Black Hat conference. Runa Sandvik and Michael Augur were able to manipulate the rifle via its Wi-Fi connection, change the calculations in the view finder, cause the rifle to miss its target and prevent the rifle from firing. TrackingPoint’s founder asserts that the gun’s safety remains intact, as the rifle can only be fired if the trigger is pulled manually, and the company will work with the team to address the hackable flaws.

The RollJam, introduced at DEF CON, can hack into keyless cars and garages. Even scarier, it retails for just $32. The inventor, Samy Kamkar, says his device is intended to prod car makers into adopting two-factor authentication systems and increase their security measures.

A DEF CON team also demonstrated how to falsify GPS locations in smartphones and car navigation systems. At first glance, such a hack may merely send a driver to an incorrect location, but future advances with self-driving cars could give this a deadly implication.

Didn’t make it to Black Hat? Check out the schedule and briefings for a recap. Missed out on DEF CON? Review the list of speakers and panelists.

You may also enjoy these past posts on cybersecurity:

Throwback Thursday: Past words on passwords

IT Roundup: Security and identity

IT Roundup: Spotlight on hackers 

As marketing communications manager, Sarah O’Connor develops and supports strategies to promote TEKsystems’ brand to job seekers, consultants and clients. She enjoys running and exploring new cities—preferably both at the same time. 

Blog Archive