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Weaponizing Your Pets: The War Kitteh and the Denial of Service Dog

In his first-time Defcon presentation, Tenacity Solutions’ Gene Bransfield shares his hilarious experience of making a ‘volunteer’ cat and dog go technical.

Good morning Defcon! I can’t tell you what a pleasure it is to be here. I’d wanted to present here for a while. I’d like to start the speech with an impromptu announcement: I promise never to say “big data”, “APT”, “cloud” or “cyber”. So, I never said those.

Intro

Intro

Good morning! I’m weaponizing your pets, let’s get started. My name is Gene Bransfield. I am the Principle Security Engineer at Tenacity Solutions. If you spend enough time with me, you’ll figure out I love my job. It’s a fantastic thing to get a wakeup in the morning and say: “Let’s get to work and get paid to do cool stuff!” People that hang out with me are like: “Hey, tell me more about your job.” They want my job. But they can’t have my job. I’m going to be the guy that dies on, like, a Friday of a long weekend and I’ll come in Tuesday morning – and there I am in the corner, clean me up and don’t step on that stain over there, that’s the Gene Bransfield memorial stain on the carpet.

So, what’s this talk about? This is a talk about having a humorous idea, bringing that idea to fruition, stories of triumph and woe, and valuable lessons learned. I’ve got a lot of slides, so let me get started.

What’s the incentive?

What’s the incentive?

Weaponizing your pets – why in God’s name would you want to do that? The background is that 15% of the world’s Internet traffic is dedicated to Cats. That’s right, we have the whole world’s knowledgebase at our fingertips when we watch cats and other things online. I find most tech briefings boring, and I know lots of people find it boring, so I started including pictures of cats and humorous stories around cats. In fact, this (see middle image below) is the picture that started it all. Oh, shut up! That’s awesome and you know it!

Final stimulus

Final stimulus

You just can’t stay indifferent

You just can’t stay indifferent

Bare facts

Bare facts

 

I just finished one such presentation and somebody came up to me and said: “I’m going to give you my cat collar,” and they told me about it – it had a GPS chip in it, a cellular component, and it could track where the cat was. If you were nervous, you could send it a text message and it would text you back the GPS coordinates of the cat. And I said: “Well, add a WiFi sniffer and we’d have a WAR KITTEH!”

Origin of the Denial of Service Dog

Origin of the Denial of Service Dog

And the Denial of Service Dog (see right-hand image): I was at Outerz0ne, LadyMerlin walked in with a dog that had saddlebags on it reading “Denial of Service Dog”. And I’m like: “Oh, cool! Is there a Pineapple in there or something?” She’s like: “No! It’s just whenever you try to use the computer he jumps in your lap and you can’t do it.” But the Pineapple is a great idea.

So, working animals are nothing new, we’ve got military and law enforcement dogs (see leftmost image below) and we have bad ass dogs that jump out of the back of military aircraft into the water (see middle image below). Then we have badder ass dogs (see rightmost image below): see the guy who’s wearing a gas mask? The dog is wearing a gas mask too! This guy jumped out of an aircraft at 30,000 feet. That’s a bad ass dog!

Badder ass dogs

Badder ass dogs

Bad ass dogs

Bad ass dogs

Really helpful animals

Really helpful animals

 

Seals used by the NAVY

Seals used by the NAVY

Spy dolphins

Spy dolphins

And then we have a real NAVY seal (see opposite right-hand image). And this is the truth: the NAVY uses marine animals for harbor defense and finding mines and doing things like that. You think you’re all stealthy and you’re going to swim in and blow up a harbor – and all of a sudden a flipper jumps out with a GoPro (see image above).

'Genious' idea

‘Genious’ idea

There are other things that happen. Apparently, back in the 60s – this is Acoustic Kitty (see right-hand image), and there’s a lot of pot going around the CIA. So, imagine sitting around a table smoking: “We’re going to take a cat, we’re going to put a transmitter on his chest, a microphone in his ear and an antenna wire, and we’ll call this the Acoustic Kitty.” This actually got funded! I’m not kidding here. There were all kinds of science and experiments, and they did the first operational test, they had a couple of guys over there that put the cat down: “Go listen to those guys,” the cat ran right out in the traffic, and that was the end of Acoustic Kitty. And at that point they defunded this, not because it was a bad idea but because all the scientists quit, they’re like: “Screw this! Cats are too hard to work with!” That’s a very interesting thing they found; we’ll get back to that later.
 

Read next: Weaponizing Your Pets 2: Better Luck Next Time with the Cat

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