It's always fun to watch HD Moore as he covers the latest roadmap for Metasploit - explaining the progress of various evasion techniques as they're integrated in to the tool and deriding the progress of various "protection" technologies.
A couple of things he said at the time stuck in my mind and I've been musing over them throughout last week. One comment - in response to a question that had been raised - was that IDS/IPS evasion is already sufficient within Metasploit and that further techniques would be "like kicking a cripple kid". Granted, not very PC - but that's the purpose of such statements.
I agree to a certain extent that IDS/IPS technologies can be evaded - but there's a pretty broad spectrum to IDS/IPS technologies and 'one size doesn't fit all'. For example, HD Moore mentioned that simply using HTTP compression (i.e. GZIP) is enough to evade the technology. Not so. For IDS/IPS technologies with full protocol parsing modules (rather than packet-based signature matching) such techniques won't work. But that's by the by. Depending upon the sophistication of the attacker and their knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the IDS/IPS technology, evasions can often be found in short order (depending upon the type of vulnerability being exploited). While it's obviously to HD Moores advantage to talk a good game on behalf of Metaspolit and novel evasion techniques, it doesn't hurt to be reminded that there is an agenda to making such broad claims.
The other comment he made related to the progress of adding more advanced payloads and exploit techniques. While I can't remember precisely the terms he used, the way he was discussing the topic - how much fun everyone was having inventing and developing the new techniques - I couldn't help by feel a little ashamed that things within the professional (attack-based) security field had reached this level.
What do I mean? Well, the way in which HD Moore was describing things to the audience I couldn't help but think in terms of physical weapons research. The description of the nestled exploit and evasion modules and how the developers/researchers were going about developing better, faster and more efficient techniques made me visualize a game of one-up man-ship between bullet designers. Something like the following...
Researcher 1: I think we should make a bullet that's Teflon coated but acts like a dum-dum bullet that expands to make a bigger hole in the target.Researcher 2: Researcher 1: No, I've got a better idea. Instead of using the dum-dum style of bullet, I've come up with a way of making it fragment quicker and completely eviscerate the target internally. Researcher 2: How about we add that new flaming compound so that as the target gets eviscerated he'll combust at the same time. Researcher 1: That's cool! I bet there'll be crimson smoke coming out of the target too. Ha ha. Cool! Lets build it and test it against those homeless people across the road.
Granted, "good enough" protection can be defeated by using a "good enough" evasion technique. But I wonder when (or if) we'll ever need people to be more responsible for their actions developing what are effectively the cyber-equivalent of weapons? I strongly doubt that there'll ever be the cyber-equivalent of the Hague Convention though.