Image of Cyber Security Awareness Month Event

Amusing Hacker Stories - with Chad Spensky, Founder & CEO of Allthenticate  

(Hosted by UC Santa Barbara)

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“Hackers” have become emblazoned in our society.  They dominate news headlines, are featured in prominent Hollywood movies, and have become larger than life -- instilling fear in IT professionals and awe in many young computer scientists.  Who are these people, what does it mean “hack” something, and what the heck is a binary?  Surely, you have seen a news headline that talks about hackers stealing data, taking over cars, or disrupting power plants and thought to yourself, “how did they do that; is that even possible?”

In this talk, my goal is to convince you that “hacking” isn't that hard, and try to tease apart fact from fiction with respect to hackers.  I will highlight some hacking techniques and show you how to “own” a computer.  We will explore some of the technical limitations of our current computing systems and why they are exploitable.  Finally, I will walk you through a simple example of binary exploitation, and how you can make a program do things it wasn't intended to do.  At the end of this talk, you should be able to read news headlines with sufficient skepticism and, in some rare cases, considerable respect for the hacker’s skills.

Chad is a computer security researcher, entrepreneur, and educator who is passionate about using technology to make people’s lives easier and their digital systems more secure. He is currently the CEO of Allthenticate, a company that is revolutionizing authentication by offering an all-in-one, smartphone-based identity management and authentication solution. Chad has over 10 years of research experience and has numerous academic publications in top conferences. Formerly, he was a member of the technical research staff at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, where he helped them solve some of the Department of Defense's toughest cyber-security problems. Chad received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and is also a recipient of the prestigious IBM Ph.D. Fellowship.  In addition to his academic credentials, Chad is a lifetime hacker.  His hacking career started in his teenage years and has taken him to compete in some of the world's best capture the flag tournaments around the world as a member of the Shellphish hacking team.  His unique blend of hacking knowledge and academic rigor make him particularly well-suited to solve complex real-world cybersecurity problems, like making authentication usable and secure.