Day 1 of Continuum Navigate 2017 got underway in Las Vegas tonight with a moment of silence for victims of Sunday’s massacre, and a presentation by a top hacker, who demonstrated tools and tricks of the burgeoning cyber crime trade.

Continuum Managed Services Chief Revenue Officer Robert Kocis kicked off the annual user conference shortly after 5 p.m., taking the stage to offer condolences, before rallying the audience with some good news about the state of the business.

“Continuum partners are the most profitable in the industry,” Kocis said, citing research from Paul Dippell’s Service Leadership peer groups organization.

Next came Kevin Mitnick, a famous hacker once hunted by the FBI, who now works as a security consultant and author.

Mitnick’s team boasts a 100 percent record of penetrating every system his team has been hired to hack, Kocis said during the introduction. 

During a fascinating, if somewhat unsettling, 90-minute talk, Mitnick walked attendees through his tactics for evading anti-phishing efforts, delivering ransomware, and taking control of computers and mobile devices.

In one particularly poignant example, Mitnick entered the name of an audience member into an unnamed web application and instantly pulled up the volunteer’s personal identifying information (PII), including Social Security number, dates of birth and home addresses.

The proliferation of hacking activity and increasingly sophisticated social engineering methods is ratcheting up the difficulty of protecting client networks, he said.

“We can’t get a Windows update and download a patch for stupidity,” Mitnick said.

In another attack, he demonstrated how he used a HID reader – so named because it can read and replicate HID brand access control cards – to steal card information from an employee standing at an adjacent urinal.

Mitnick then created his own card and gained access to the data center of the company that hired him.

“Hacking is not just about technical,” he said. “It’s also about physical security.”

The professional hacker’s presentation was likely an excellent attention-getter, as security is expected to be a key topic during the conference, which runs through Thursday.

Continuum CEO Michael George is scheduled to deliver a keynote on Tuesday called “The Art of (Cyber) War,” incorporating the writings of legendary Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu.  

 

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