david wong

Hey ! I'm David, a security consultant at Cryptography Services, the crypto team of NCC Group . This is my blog about cryptography and security and other related topics that I find interesting.

Flint vs NTL February 2015

I'm digging into the code source of Sage and I see that a lot of functions are implemented with Shoup's NTL. There is also FLINT used. I was wondering what were the differences. I can see that NTL is in c++ and FLINT is in C. On wikipedia:

It is developed by William Hart of the University of Warwick and David Harvey of Harvard University to address the speed limitations of the Pari and NTL libraries.

Although in the code source of Sage I'm looking at they use FLINT by default and switch to NTL when the modulus is getting too large.

By the way, all of that is possible because Sage uses Cython, which allows it to use C in python. I really should learn that...


This implementation is generally slower than the FLINT implementation in :mod:~sage.rings.polynomial.polynomial_zmod_flint, so we use FLINT by default when the modulus is small enough; but NTL does not require that n be `int`-sized, so we use it as default when n is too large for FLINT.

So the reason behind it seems to be that NTL is better for large numbers.

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Dread Pirate Roberts' journal? February 2015

Silk Road's trial just closed and I ran into this old (?) journal of Ross Ulbricht that contains quite a bunch of interesting passages. I think this will turn into a movie.

server was ddosed, meaning someone knew the real IP. I assumed they obtained it by becoming a guard node. So, I migrated to a new server and set up private guard nodes. There was significant downtime and someone has mentioned that they discovered the IP via a leak from lighttpd.

being blackmailed with user info. talking with large distributor (hell's angels).

commissioned hit on blackmailer with angels

got word that blackmailer was excuted created file upload script started to fix problem with bond refunds over 3 months old

got death threat from someone (DeathFromAbove)

withdrawals all caught up made a sign error when fixing the bond refund bug, so several vendors had very negative accounts. switched to direct connect for bitcoin instead of over ssh portforward received visual confirmation of blackmailers execution

gave angels go ahead to find tony7

sent payment to angels for hit on tony76 and his 3 associates

04/21 - 04/30/2013
market and forums under sever DoS attack. Gave 10k btc ransom but attack continued.

attacker agreed to stop if I give him the first $100k of revenue and $50k per week thereafter. He stopped, but there appears to be another DoS attack still persisting

paid $100k to attacker

paid the attacker $50k

rewrote orders page paid attacker $50k weekly ransom $2M was stolen from my mtgox account by DEA

09/19 - 09/25/2013
red got in a jam and needed $500k to get out. ultimately he convinced me to give it to him, but I got his ID first and had cimon send harry, his new soldier of fortune, to vancouver to get $800k in cash to cover it. red has been mainly out of communication, but i haven't lost hope. Atlantis shut down. I was messaged by one of their team who said they shut down because of an FBI doc leaked to them detailing vulnerabilities in Tor.

Had revelation about the need to eat well, get good sleep, and meditate so I can stay positive and productive.

All of this sounds so surreal. He is making a huge amount of money for sure. A million dollars doesn't seem much for him. He is constantly buying servers and he seems to be coding a lot. He also seem like a normal dude.

And here's a funny thread on who's Variety Jones

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Magma vs Sage vs Pari February 2015

I was looking for a way to know what are the real differences between magma, sage and pari. I only worked with sage and pari (and by the way, pari was invented at my university!) but heard of magma from sage contributors.

From the sage website: The Sage-Pari-Magma ecosystem

The biggest difference between Sage and Magma is that Magma is closed source, not free, and difficult for users to extend. This means that most of Magma cannot be changed except by the core Magma developers, since Magma itself is well over two million lines of compiled C code, combined with about a half million lines of interpreted Magma code (that anybody can read and modify). In designing Sage, we carried over some of the excellent design ideas from Magma, such as the parent, element, category hierarchy.

Any mathematician who is serious about doing extensive computational work in algebraic number theory and arithmetic geometry is strongly urged to become familiar with all three systems, since they all have their pros and cons. Pari is sleek and small, Magma has much unique functionality for computations in arithmetic geometry, and Sage has a wide range of functionality in most areas of mathematics, a large developer community, and much unique new code.

I also noticed that Sage provides an interface to Shoup's NTL through ntl. functions. Good to know!

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Get settled in Bordeaux: the true guide. February 2015

I'm leaving soon for Chicago and I haven't found the "let's give you a crash course of the city's inside" kind of guide I was looking for. I've also wanted for a long time to write a no bullshit guide on how to manage moving to Bordeaux. So here it is. It's gonna be short, concise and maybe not very ethical.


  • avoid the only hostel of the city at all cost
  • avoid the kind of agencies where you have to pay a fee (more than 100€ usually) to be able to visit places.
  • if you are looking for an apartment during July, August, September... you're in for a bad time. Don't bother finding a real place, just find a sublet for a couple months until things calm down.
  • how to find a place? Go on leboncoin (and nowhere else). check "particuliers" to have only landlords, refresh the page and call asap. Always have plenty of documents on you because if you find the place of your dream you might have to fill and sign on the spot. If you don't know what documents you need ask the first landlord you call.
  • If you can't have a garant (guarantor) then check out Clé Acquitaine
  • need furniture ? cutlery? a bike? Wait for periods when people are leaving: December/January or May/June. People dump free stuff in the streets (really) or sell them for an incredible low price. The Erasmus facebook group of the current year is where it's at. Don't hesitate to bargain, and take your time.
  • see the map I posted here? You want to live in the yellow or the orange. The city is pretty small so the other colors should be ok as long as you don't go too far. Never go to the other side of the river though.


  • you should buy a bike. Not too expensive because you will probably get it stolen.
  • don't pay for a pass, you will never see ticket inspectors. And if you meet one, be sure to have one ticket on you so that you can get a 50% discount on your fine!
  • need to go to the airport ? Take the line 1 at Quinconces.


  • Never go to KFC and subway. Nobody go there and it's never fresh. Avoid 2€ kebabs. People will tell you about the Coluche being the best kebab place of the city but you will want to avoid this as well. L'Entrecôte and Fufu have huge lines but they are not that special. Go check out Santosha and Pitaya, amazing thaï/vietnamese places.
  • check Del'ice n'coffee or Verde Nero.


  • iBoat should be a safe bet. Although it might be a bit selective and far away. La Plage is the biggest club I've been in France, it's close to the center, it's free on Thursday and it's full of girls.
  • There are quizzes everyday in Bordeaux. Just ask your favorite bars. Avoid Place de la Victoire. Try not to always go to Charles Dickens or HMS or...
  • La Maison du Vin. Go to this place. As much as you can. It's cheap, classy and the wine is very, very, very good. Try some Sauternes or some Loupiac or some Montbazillac.
  • There are other more expensive places you can drink wine at. Check La Bbelle Campagne or in the same street rue des bahutiers.
  • I said earlier never to go to the dark side of Bordeaux (across the river), but you can go if you want to see Darwin. It's a place with many things to do and I won't spoil it for you.
  • If you need to buy alcohol late. There is a casino that sells until 10pm near the tram tracks between Victoire and Musée d'Acquitaine. Other small shops Cours Victor Hugo or Cours de l'Yser might as well. After 10pm check around Place du Parlement and you will find some shops selling illegally.

Internet & Phone

  • every year in june/july/august/september even november. When people move and need to subscribe to a new internet company, you usually have extremly cheap offers where you would pay like 2€/months for a year instead of 20. Check vente-privee.com this is where everything is at.
  • still on vente-privee.com, and during the same periods, you will find mobile company doing the same agressive offers. This is the moment to get real cheap plans. It really doesn't matter what company, they are all the same. Although you might not have a great internet connection with "Free".
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Firefox Time Tracker : update 2 February 2015

I shipped!

You can get the .xpi on the github repo. Just open it with Firefox and no restart is needed! (Ctrl+O in firefox)

For now it's very basic. You will see this icon next to the close button:

firefox time tracker

Yes I know I should create a custom icon :D but I was too busy coding. You will then see some basic statistics of the day.

firefox time tracker

I'm now working on making this page nice with pretty graphics and more statistics (week, month, tracking of the most visited website of the week...).

So if you want to try my plugin, know that it works (so far)! And that you should pay this blog a visit because I'm planning on updating it.

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A tutorial on how to get into an admin account on ANY windows. February 2015


A step by step tutorial showing you how to get admin credentials on a windows machine: http://imgur.com/gallery/H8obU


  • reboot in start-up repair mode
  • read privacy statement of one menu should open notepad
  • thanks to notepad replace sethc 1 with cmd
  • so now when you press 5 times on shift it will call cmd instead of sethc 1
  • you know have a shell, use command net localgroup Administrators to get a list of the admins
  • type net user <ACCOUNT NAME HERE> * to change one account's password.

If you're looking for a "fix", microsoft advise you to turn off sticky keys all completely

And here's another exploit for windows 98

Note that as soon as you can access the hard drive, you don't need to use the first trick and can switch around programs in system32 as you wish (except if windows is encrypted with bitlocker). For example you can do this with an ubuntu live cd and swap cmd with the magnifier tool and you will be able to do the same thing.

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Firefox Time Tracker February 2015

I always thought I could reduce the amount of time slacking if I could track my time on facebook, reddit, hackernews... like I track my calories intake to reduce my weight. I couldn't find a good firefox plugin for that so I decided to make one.

I'm opensourcing the code right here: https://github.com/mimoo/FirefoxTimeTracker

I'm pretty surprised with Firefox SDK and it's actually easier than what I thought to build a browser plugin. It might also help that everything Mozilla documents is clear and pretty.

At the moment the code successfully logs the time passed on different websites across sessions. It just lacks nice graphs. If you want to try it just wait a couple days until I ship.

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Kleptography: hidding a private key in plain sight January 2015

from wikipedia:

A kleptographic attack is an attack which uses asymmetric encryption to implement a cryptographic backdoor. For example, one such attack could be to subtly modify how the public and private key pairs are generated by the cryptosystem so that the private key could be derived from the public key. In a well-designed attack, the outputs of the infected cryptosystem would be computationally indistinguishable from the outputs of the corresponding uninfected cryptosystem. If the infected cryptosystem is a black-box implementation such as a hardware security module, a smartcard, or a Trusted Platform Module, a successful attack could go completely unnoticed.

I've seen implementations of this in the wild, here on reddit (python) and here on lobsters (C#)

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Explanation of Shellshock January 2015

Here's an awesome explanation of shellshock: https://bitbucket.org/carter-yagemann/shellshock/src/f0a88573f912?at=master

This repository contains useful documents which I have written to help educate the cybersecurity community on the "ShellShock" bash vulnerability. These documents are designed to help facilitate learning, including on how to identify possibly vulnerable services and how to remediate such vulnerabilities.

It's actually the clearest explanation I've seen on the subject.

Made by these guys from Syracuse:

  • Carter Yagemann
  • Amit Ahlawat
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One example of a crypto backdoor: NSA's backdoor in Lotus-Notes January 2015

Excellent finding from Adam Back.

If I understand the article correctly, when exporting encrypted content with Lotus-Notes, 24 bits of the 64 bits key would be encrypted under one of the NSA's public key and then appended to the encrypted content (I guess). This would allow NSA to decrypt those 24 bits of key with their corresponding private key and they would then have to brute force only 40 bits instead of 64 bits.

This shouldn't allow any bad attacker to get any advantage if they don't know the NSA's private key to decrypt those bits. And if they do acquire it, and they do decrypt 24bits of key, they would still have to have the computing power to brute force 40 bits of key. I have no idea what I'm talking about but I have the feeling the NSA might be the most powerful computing power when it comes to brute forcing ciphers.

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Awk in 20 minutes January 2015

I posted a tutorial of awk a few posts bellow. But this one is easier to get into I found. It says Awk in 20 minutes but I would say it takes way less than 20 minutes and it's concise and straight to the point, that's how I like it.


EDIT1: And here's a video of someone using a bunch of unix tools (awk, grep, cut, sed, sort, curl...) to parse a log file, pretty impressive and informative: https://vimeo.com/11202537

EDIT2: Here's another post playing with grep, sort, uniq, awk, xargs, find... http://aadrake.com/command-line-tools-can-be-235x-faster-than-your-hadoop-cluster.html

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How Differential Power Analysis (DPA) works? An explanation of the first paper from Kocher et al (1998) January 2015

I wanted to get into educational videos and this is my first big try (of 13minutes). I made some quick animations in Flash and some slides and I recorded it. I didn't want to spend too much time on it. It doesn't feel that clear, my English kinda got stuck sometimes and my animations were... crappy, let's say that :D but it's a first try, I will release other videos and improve on the way hopefully :) (I really need to get more pedagogical). So I hope this will at least help some of my fellow students (or people interested in the subject) in understanding Differential Power Analysis

Note: I made a mistake at the start of the video, DPA is non-invasive (source)

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How facebook hash its passwords January 2015

$cur  = 'plaintext'
$cur  = md5($cur)
$salt = randbytes(20)
$cur  = hmac_sha1($cur, $salt)
$cur  = cryptoservice::hmac($cur)
        [= hmac_sha256($cur, $secret)]
$cur  = scrypt($cur, $salt)
$cur  = hmac_sha256($cur, $salt)

the explanation is here

tl;dr: the md5 is here for legacy purpose, cryptoservice::hmac is to add a secret salt, scrypt (which is a kdf not a hash) is for slowing brute force attempts and the sha256 is here for shortening the output.

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