CCS 2010, day 1

I’m attending the 2010 ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (in Chicago this year), from yesterday (I’m skipping the workshops on Monday and Friday). Was a little to tired to write up what I thought of yesterday’s talks yesterday, so here are some brief thoughts about them now.

Before lunch, I probably should have gone to the security analysis session, but I really wanted to see Justin Samuel’s talk on practical advice for dealing with compromised keys, mostly aimed at people doing signed software distribution—which could also be relevant for people running secure web sites, especially if browsers start paying more attention to changes in the server certificates. The other two talks in this session didn’t really grab me.

After lunch, there was lots of good stuff in the session on wireless and phone security. Husted and Myers described how a malicious group of cooperating cell phones can track the majority of other cell phone users in an area—this is not easy now but will only get easier. Halevi and Saxena (no link available) comprehensively broke all the current schemes for acoustically pairing small widgets together (you put your Bluetooth earbud against your phone, for instance, and it vibrates a code, which your phone detects), even at distance thanks to the magic of parabolic microphones. And a large group from Georgia Tech showed their technique for fingerprinting the networks through which a phone call passes, based on the characteristics of each network’s acoustic compression algorithm.

After that I decided to skip the tutorials and go for a walk. The conference hotel is right on the south bank of the Chicago River and only a few blocks from Lake Michigan, so I walked down the riverfront to the lake and then looped around to the south and back. I’ve never been to Chicago before and it’s very interesting, architecturally. I will post more on this when I can upload photos (left the cable at home, silly me).

The poster session was, unfortunately, a bit of a blur; by that point my brain was full. Collin introduced me to a bunch of people doing ’net security at Cal and we all went out to dinner, which involved more wandering around the downtown looking for a restaurant that had a table for eight.