Security conference dives into SAP coding problems

The Black Hat Europe conference in Barcelona next week will feature a keynote on cyberwar from Bruce Schneier, and presentations on security flaws in Apple's Mac OS X and SAP's business software.

The Black Hat Europe conference in Barcelona next week will feature a keynote on cyberwar from Bruce Schneier, and presentations on security flaws in Apple's Mac OS X and SAP's business software.

Black Hat Europe will begin Tuesday, with two days of training followed by two days of briefings. Andreas Wiegenstein, CTO of Virtual Forge, will give a briefing on how companies writing custom code for SAP systems often unknowingly write insecure code that opens up holes in the systems, which could betray valuable business data.

SAP uses the ABAP programming language, which, like any programming language is not immune to programming errors, Wiegenstein said in an interview. Virtual Forge, in Heidelberg, Germany, specializes in auditing ABAP code.

SAP systems can contain as many as 150 million lines of source code, and many companies write extensions on top of the main applications to add more functionality. They also unwittingly add errors.

Since there is a lack of proper forensic tools to investigate SAP systems, many companies never know that data has been extracted.

"One of the problems is that most companies wouldn't even know if they are hacked," Wiegenstein said. "Companies are under attack but they don't necessarily know they've had an incident."

During his briefing, Wiegenstein will talk about how ABAP invokes several low-level kernel call interfaces. While SAP recommends that developers not to use kernel calls, he will explain some of the most dangerous kernel calls that are not known to most ABAP developers.

Black Hat Europe will also see an appearance from Vincenzo Iozzo , who with two other researchers successfully hacked RIM's BlackBerry Torch 9800 in the Pwn2Own contest at the CanSecWest security conference in Vancouver earlier this week.

Iozzo, a vulnerability researcher and reverse engineer for Zynamics, will run a workshop called "The Mac Exploit Kitchen." He will focus on local privilege escalation as well as remote browser-based client-side vulnerabilities in Mac OS X.

Black Hat Europe's keynote speaker will be Schneier, chief technology officer for BT and author of "Applied Cryptography," an authoritative manual on encryption practices. Schneier will speak about cyberwar and how there is no clear definition of the widely invoked term.

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