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Vivek Ramachandran

Founder of Squarex

Vivek Ramachandran is a security researcher, book author, speaker-trainer, and serial entrepreneur with over two decades of experience in offensive cybersecurity. He is currently the founder of SquareX, building a browser-native security product focused on detecting, mitigating, and threat-hunting web attacks against enterprise users and consumers. Prior to that, he was the founder of Pentester Academy (acquired in 2021), which has trained thousands of customers from government agencies, Fortune 500 companies, and enterprises from over 140+ countries. Before that, Vivek’s company built an 802.11ac monitoring product sold exclusively to defense agencies. Vivek discovered the Caffe Latte attack, broke WEP Cloaking, conceptualized enterprise Wi-Fi Backdoors, and created Chellam (Wi-Fi Firewall), WiMonitor Enterprise (802.11ac monitoring), Chigula (Wi-Fi traffic analysis via SQL), Deceptacon (IoT Honeypots), among others.

He is the author of multiple five-star-rated books in offensive cybersecurity, which have sold thousands of copies worldwide and have been translated into multiple languages. He has been a speaker/trainer at top security conferences such as Blackhat USA, Europe and Abu Dhabi, DEFCON, Nullcon, Brucon, HITB, Hacktivity, and others. Vivek’s work in cybersecurity has been covered in Forbes, TechCrunch, and other popular media outlets.
In a past life, he was one of the programmers of the 802.1x protocol and Port Security in Cisco’s 6500 Catalyst series of switches. He was also one of the winners of the Microsoft Security Shootout contest held in India among a reported 65,000 participants. He has also published multiple research papers in the field of DDoS, ARP Spoofing Detection, and Anomaly-based Intrusion Detection Systems. In 2021, he was awarded an honorary title of Regional Director of Cybersecurity by Microsoft for a period of three years, and in 2024 he joined the BlackHat Arsenal Review Board.

Technical talk: Sneaky Extensions: The MV3 Escape Artists

| Aug 10th 2024 | DEF CON Creator Stage 3 | Las Vegas Convention Center.
Adversarial tradecraft

Ever since the pandemic and the rising popularity of work-from-home and hybrid models, there has been an increase in the usage of browsers, particularly video conferencing and collaboration applications. While some extensions enhance the user experience, some can gravely affect users' privacy and security. Over the past few years, extensions have gained recognition for nefarious activities, from simple color picker extensions to productivity-first AI extensions. And now more than ever, attackers are leveraging malicious extensions to steal user data, promote ads, affiliate marketing, and more. Realizing the abuse, Google pivoted from the MV2 model to the latest MV3, providing better security and locking down the extension from running rampant. While some security measures have been introduced in MV3, it is far from safe.

In this talk, we will be demonstrating a suite of attacks, while requiring the least amount of permissions, which 95% of extensions on the Chrome store have. We will showcase stealth stealing of webcam feed, audio streams, clipboard data, and stealing credentials from other extensions like password managers. MV3 also introduced security measures to block the usage of functions like eval and new Function that allowed arbitrary code execution. We’ll showcase how an extension can still do arbitrary code execution effectively bypassing the MV3 restrictions.
In this talk, we will also propose changes to the extension security model to prevent the lurking loopholes. We will also be demonstrating how malicious extensions can interfere with other extensions and steal sensitive information such as Credit card, passwords, OTP, etc, from other extensions.

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