THOTCON 0xA recap


THOTCON 0xA had these parts relevant to me

— Visit the villages

Usually I can spend half an hour or more to work on something. Last year it was a car hack game, and this year there was a radio related booth. I am always interested in radio stuff, but never tried it. Now everything is digital, software based (SDR) so it feels even more complex. I wondered why people are still playing with that, when there are better ways to communicate. One of the booth hosts told me he is into radios because things like wifi or bluetooth are just radios, so working on radios helps to understand or work on those things.

Didn't have time or the fun to work on car hacking booth. Every time I feel I am an outsider, it takes a lot time to settle down and enjoy some puzzles or conversations. I don't work in security, just interested, and I know so little. Worse is that I only attend the first day without the party. I have to take my son to a mini maker faire at Schurz HS on Saturday. Have to persuade myself to buy next year's ticket, but it might be better if someone I know can attend too? 

— Luckily there is someone I know (and who is always kind to me) also attending. Watched how he and another colleague solved puzzles

— Badge

Every year I asked myself can I handle that badge? Is it really simple or is it really that hard to figure out what those lights mean, and how to start a game? This year it turned out that when the badge cannot connect to wifi, it would show some light pattern; and if it is out of its recognized wifi range, it shows a different light pattern. And the games are only able to play either if it connected successfully, or it cannot find the network? Also the touch buttons were not very sensitive, but at least I figured out how to keep the game going.. I'd like to be more confident but last year's badge was still not working for me.

So many badge hacker and hacking sessions.

— Puzzles

This is the most important part of THOTCON. There are multiple sessions and games around this. I didn't bring a laptop, so had to rely on iPad to access various decoding tools, could not work on the CTF game. Watching my friends/colleagues working on that game was fun.. Next time should bring both laptop and USB wire just in case. Listen to half of the PCAP workshop. Letter frequency is very useful  and was mentioned many times. And use CyberChef to verify the hypothesis. Nice intro to his work! I cannot imagine how I could work on numbers in daily work though.

— Human factors

The short talks were mostly about personal experience in hacking; and the hour long talks were too, but also had more about human and society related contents. So I skipped longer sessions.. It is like skipping the major part of the conference. Maybe just want to be more technical? But I also skipped those very technical ones. Should have checked the agenda and think it through before the conference day!

— MISC/informational

 ARRL, American Radio Relay League, is for ham radio. "largest membership association of amateur radio enthusiasts in the USA"

 technician (local or within NA), general (world wide), or amateur extra license

 exam review

 membership $50/y, lifetime $1.25k

 exam sessions

 there were some digital radio gateway products

 - openSPOT support DMR, D-Star, System Fusion networks $200

 - repeaters, C4FM/FDMA technology

 heared one talk about ATM hacks, basically they are dumping the harddisk to images and then work with virtual machines

 this year's badge is ESP32 based, also there are other projects using this SoC chip, a Chinese company

 released since 2016.8, currently 2018.12 is v4.0

 predecessor is 32-bit RISC 80MHz 32k RAM 802.11 bgn 16 GPIO

 ESP32 has Tensilica Xtensa LX6 microprocessor 32-bit RISC 160MHz dual core 520k SRAM 802.1 bgn BT 4.2 BLE

 badge hackers

 THOTCON 0xA badge hack projects

 a chart to explain the badge's components and location of touch sensors

 sample code to light the led upon touch

 ESP32 hookup guide (with Arduino)

 XTronical guide

 puzzles in the books

 - base64 decode

 - rot16 decode

 - alphabetical substitution

 - Pigpen cipher, or Masonic/Freemason's cipher

 - English letter frequency

 - (BLOCKED) letter frequency tool

 - two letter word list

 capture the flag game

 - email encoding, quoted printable converter

 - someone's detailed records for all steps

 A puzzle by ??

 - decode the ROM blobs first to get hints, for the 4 secrets

 - TNG S1E15

 - Konami code

 - Go Player One

 - "Speak friend and enter"

  morse code translator

 one session about decoding PCAP


 Rachel Tobac

 mentioned a book "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion", by Robert Cialdini

 "If somebody says they are somebody, confirm it by using a different method controlled by you"

 "if somebody you don’t know—even if it’s somebody you think you should know—is being extra nice to you, talking about things you have in common or displaying uncommon knowledge about your organization and other people in it, but is also asking you for information that wouldn’t be publicly available, your antennae should go up—way up"

 Hak4Kidz show on 5/18


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