Adam Caudill

Security Engineer, Researcher, & Developer

  • Worried about the NSA? Try AES-512!

    […or, The Cost of Wild Speculation] “We need to boost our security – I think the NSA has broken everything we use. AES-256 is too weak, I don’t trust it. Find a way to implement AES-512.” Double-AES-256! It’d be easy, and double encrypting has never bitten us before. So, let’s write some code! def encrypt(msg, iv, key) return e(e(msg, iv, key.slice(0..31)), iv, key.slice(32..63)) end def decrypt(cipher, iv, key) return d(d(cipher, iv, key.

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  • Crypto, the NSA, and Broken Trust

    Even as a child I was fascinated by cryptography – and often left the local librarians with puzzled looks thanks to the books I would check out. It’s so elegantly simple, and yet massively complex. There is one very unusual property of crypto though – it’s not about math or modes, it’s about trust. Cryptography, especially as used today, has the most wonderful dichotomy of trust; on one hand crypto, by its very nature, is used in situations lacking trust.

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  • Hash Storage: Make Attackers Work

    So you hash your passwords? Good. Do you salt? That’s good. Do you use a strong hashing algorithm (PBKDF2/bcrypt/scrypt)? Great! But how do you store the hashes? What happens when you get hit with a SQL injection attack? I’m a big believer in defense in-depth – not that marketing garbage about stacking layers of blinky-light boxes, but using techniques to add extra work for an attacker. You might not be able to stop every attack, but the more work they have to do, the better the odds they won’t get everything they want.

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  • OPSEC, The NSA, and You

    It’s been two weeks since news broke about the NSA collecting massive amounts of data from Verizon; and likely everybody else. There’s also PRISM – whatever the hell that is – it seems there’s no agreement on that, and I doubt there will be anytime soon. What really matters here though, is we have proof that people are watching – and if it’s happening in the US, it’s probably happening everywhere else.

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  • Password Hashing: No Silver Bullets

    In the dark days of the web, if a service hashed your password instead of storing it in plain text, they were doing good. As sites were hacked, and credentials stolen, a silver bullet emerged: always hash and salt passwords when storing them. Many, many services were built with this design – LivingSocial is a great example. SHA1 hashing with a 40 byte salt – once upon a time, that was considered reasonable protection.

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  • First, Do No Harm: Developers & Bad APIs

    Primum non nocere (first, do no harm) – an iconic phrase in modern medicine, yet also applicable to many other fields. This is something I wish more people would think about, developers especially – and primarily when writing new APIs. In general, developers don’t have an impressive history with security – quite frankly, developers suck. Seeing as I consider myself a developer, that’s painful to admit. Chris Andrè Dale posted an interesting article some time ago that got me thinking: Why it’s easy being a hacker: A SQL injection case study – Chris pointed out the problems with educational material that developers are using, and just how bad the examples are.

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  • Piracy is not Theft

    For many years now groups like the MPAA and RIAA have tried to convince the public that piracy (that is, copyright infringement) is theft – and many people have come to believe this, but it’s not true. In reality, copyright infringement is far more analogous to trespassing than it is to theft in its core concepts – and even moreso in the digital world. To make it clear, I am looking at this from a largely historical perspective, looking at the origins of copyright and how it was intended to be used.

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  • My 5 minutes of infamy

    October 28, 2004 is a day I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I was coding away on the next version of a small product called GSuite that I was building for a tiny (and now nonexistent) software company called Imspire Software. It was a simple tool that provided some goodies for Gmail users, and had a few thousand users (it eventually died as a result of rapid API changes and new tools directly from Google).

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  • You can’t fix stupid…

    For those outside of the IT field, developers are looked at as miracle workers – through us, business leaders think anything is possible (and they often see no reason why we can’t work our latest miracle by the next morning). In reality though, we do work miracles; we save companies vast amounts of money every year through increased worker efficiency and automation, we enable new lines of business that wouldn’t be possible otherwise, and reduce energy costs because we keep the office lights turned off.

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  • What’s your Code Legacy?

    When you move on to your next challenge how will those that inherit your code think of you? Noble or notorious, innovator or insane? This is a question that all developers should ask themselves frequently; though too few ever do. You should always write with the assumption that someday a new developer will take over your code, and they will question every decision and assumption you’ve made. When this happens, what will they think of you?

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