Friday, October 15, 2010

Back from WACCI

So I got up this morning to find myself back from the WACCI conference, which is still going on, with today being the final day.

First, I want to thank Cindy and Drew for doing such a great job setting up and organizing this conference, which is geared toward computer crime investigators. The conference venue was spacious and very close to the hotel, and well organized. As with many conferences, there were often two (or more) interesting talks scheduled at the same time.

I also want to thank those who attended for...attending. One of the things I really like about conferences is the networking opportunity. I got to see some friends, like Ovie Carroll, Ken Pryor, and Mark McKinnon. I also got to make some new friends and meet some great people...Sam Brothers, Brad Garnett, Mark Lachinet, and Fergus Toolan, to name a very few.

WACCI brought together private industry analysts, LE, and academics, all in one place. This is a smallish, regional conference, but these kinds of conferences are important, as they foster relationships that lead to sharing...which was the central point of my keynote, and as it turns out, an important element of Ovie's, as well.

On Tuesday, we started off with a welcome message to the conference from the Dane County sheriff, had lunch, and then kicked off into Ovie's keynote. Having been an instructor at TBS back in the '90s, I am very familiar with presentations given right after lunch, during "the death hour". Ovie is a very dynamic speaker, and his presentation was very engaging, not only with the movement and transitions on the slides, but more importantly, with the content. He made some excellent points throughout the presentation, particularly with respect to sharing information and intel amongst LE.

For my keynote...which was the "zombie hour", as I followed both lunch and Ovie (I KID!!!)...I opted to go commando. That's slides. What I tried to engage the audience in was a discussion regarding the need not just for sharing, but simply communications between LE and the private sector. Folks in the private sector, such as myself, Chris Pogue, etc., tend to see a lot of different things and run across (and very often solve) some of the same challenges met by LE. As such, there is really no need for LE to spend the time re-solving technical problems that have already been addressed by others. Reaching out can tend to decrease the amount of time needed to complete a case while increasing the volume/quality of information/data retrieved. The "Trojan Defense" comes to mind. Remember, those of us in the private sector don't just deal with intrusions and compromises, we address issues and solve just happens that the folks who call us have intrusion issues. Many of us are more than willing to assist local LE with issues where we can, which is something Chris and Maj Carole Newell talked about at the SANS Forensic Summit this past summer.

I didn't expect to solve any problems with this discussion. Instead, I wanted to engage others in a discussion about how we could engage in more sharing and communication between the sectors. For me personally, success is measured in having one member of LE who hadn't reached out before overcome those often self-imposed obstacles and share, either by asking a question or contributing something (white paper, finding, etc.).

Perhaps the most significant thing to come out of the discussion is the need for a central repository of some kind where folks (LE in particular) can go for credible information, and even provide information in a manner that protects anonymity (although there was discussion that suggested that anonymity is inversely proportional to credibility) and privacy of the poster. The MITRE CVE was suggested as a model. One of the issues I've heard time and again is that the information is out there, and the problem is that it's out do you find it, and how do you find the credible information? In most cases, I agree with that, but I also think that sometimes the issue is a lack of knowledge, or perhaps something else. During the conference, several questions came up (mostly during the more social parts of the conference) where someone would say, "I've been looking all over for information on this...", and within seconds, someone else would get on their computer or smartphone, call up Google, and find highly relevant links. But that's the first step...the sharing, the asking.

As a side note to this, I've had an opportunity to start discussing something like this, a forensic artifact repository, with Troy Larson of Microsoft. However, if you haven't seen it yet, be sure to check out something like this is a start, and what's needed are forums...some open, some vetted...for discussions.

Ken Pryor has already had his comments about the first day of WACCI posted on the SANS Forensic Blog. Be sure to check these and other comments out for varying views on the conference and presentations.

I'll admit that I only attended one presentation, as I spent a lot of time engaging and networking with folks at the conference, including the vendors (Cellebrite, in particular). In particular, one of the most vocal attendees during my keynote (besides Cindy!!) was Sam Brothers. Sam is not only well-published in mobile forensics, but he's also an amazing magician, regaling us with some truly incredible card tricks! Listening and talking to Sam, I know who I'm going to go to if when I encounter any forensic issues with mobile devices!

In closing, I just want to thank Cindy and Drew again for putting together such a great conference, and Cindy in particular for inviting me (and the rest of us) to her home for a great social event. I also want to thank Mark McKinnon for sharing such wonderful gifts with us...Bells Two-Hearted Ale (to which Sam whispered, "this is awesome!!"), steak brats, and Michigan cherry gourmet coffee. A great big "THANK YOU" to everyone who attended and made this conference a great success!


Rob Lee said...

Just finished presenting myself at WACCI after being delayed by being at the Microsoft Digital Crime Consortium conference with investigators and law enforcement from 32 countries.

So that makes, for cons, four cities, three presentations. Oi vey.

The MS DCC was one of the most interesting conferences I had ever presented at and I wish I could have stayed at both as I clearly missed a lot of presentations at all of them. Thanks for keeping us all up to date on what I missed.

Sorry I missed you Harlan, would have been great to catch up.

Ken Pryor said...

Thanks for the mention and the link, Harlan! I'll be getting my recaps of the rest of the week up on the blog, hopefully over the weekend.

It was great to finally meet you in person. I really enjoyed talking and hanging out with you this week.

The WACCI folks and Cindy in particular did a fantastic job putting on this conference.

Unknown said...

What a great week! Thank you for the mention and reference in your blog, Harlan! WACCI done an excellent job of putting together a top notch conference (thank you Cindy, et al.). Great speakers, good vendor lineup, food, giveaways, etc. It was great meeting you, sharing information (although I was more of a recipient than a contributor), and to be able to say I have yet another forensic guru as a friend.
Also, a shout-out to a good friend, Mark McKinnon (Shadow Warrior), for delivering a great VSC breakout, good gifts and Bells Beer!

H. Carvey said...


It was great meeting you, as well as hooking up with Ken, Ovie, Mark, and meeting so many other great folks!

And definitely, shoutz to Mark for the Bells, steak brats, and great info!

Cory said...

Man, Troy Larson has really let himself go, he used to be quite attractive.