Gábor Szappanos wins fourth Péter Szőr Award

Posted by   Martijn Grooten on   Oct 23, 2017

Every year, during the Virus Bulletin Conference gala dinner, we celebrate the life and works of Péter Szőr, the brilliant security researcher who passed away so sadly in 2013. We do so by recognizing a great piece of technical security research with the Péter Szőr Award.

Peter_Szor.jpg

This year, we received many nominations, which we narrowed down to a shortlist of three:

  • First on the shortlist was SHAttered, the piece of research which demonstrated the first ever collision of the SHA-1 hashing algorithm, by researchers from CWI Amsterdam and Google.

    Few were surprised by the fact that a SHA-1 collision was found; it was widely known that this particular group was working on finding one. But the paper itself (pdf) went well beyond presenting two colliding strings: it carefully explained how the collision worked, provided two colliding PDFs, and even included a tool for people to check if a file was part of a collision attack.

  • Next on the shortlist was 'AKBuilder – the crowdsourced exploit kit', a research paper by Sophos's Gábor Szappanos.

    Malicious documents that exploit Office vulnerabilities are used in many attacks, from massive spam campaigns to various more targeted attacks. In a key example of the commoditization of cybercrime, such documents tend to be generated by 'Office exploit-kits'. Gábor has studied several such kits and late in 2016 wrote an excellent paper (pdf) on one of them: AKBuilder.

  • The final shortlist entry was Iran Threats, a project by researchers Claudio Guarnieri and Collin Anderson.

    As part of this project – which the researchers work on in their spare time – various digital surveillance and espionage campaigns targeting the human rights community in Iran have been documented. Not only does the project serve as a reminder that, in some countries and regions, people face digital threats that are far more serious than ordinary cybercrime, it also provides these people with important guidance.


The award was presented during the VB2017 gala dinner by Symantec researcher Liam O'Murchu, who both knew Péter Szőr personally and worked closely with him. After a short speech in which Liam shared some personal anecdotes about Péter, he announced the winner of the fourth award: Gábor Szappanos for his AKBuilder research paper.

Szapi-winner-2017.jpg

Sophos researcher Gábor Szappanos receives the fourth Péter Szőr Award.

Given the quality of the AKBuilder paper, and of Gábor's work over the years, the winner was a popular choice. It means that after Canada, The United States and The Netherlands, the Péter Szőr Award now finds its way to Hungary – the country in which Péter himself grew up.

twitter.png
fb.png
linkedin.png
hackernews.png
reddit.png

 

Latest posts:

VB2018 paper: Lazarus Group: a mahjong game played with different sets of tiles

The Lazarus Group, generally linked to the North Korean government, is one of the most notorious threat groups seen in recent years. At VB2018 ESET researchers Peter Kálnai and Michal Poslušný presented a paper looking at the group's various…

Book your VB2019 ticket now for a chance to win a ticket for BSides London

Virus Bulletin is proud to sponsor this year's BSides London conference, which will take place next week, and we have a number of tickets to give away.

First 11 partners of VB2019 announced

We are excited to announce the first 11 companies to partner with VB2019, whose support will help ensure a great event.

VB2018 paper: Fake News, Inc.

A former reporter by profession, Andrew Brandt's curiosity was piqued when he came across what appeared at first glance to be the website of a small-town newspaper based in Illinois, but under scrutiny, things didn’t add up. At VB2018 he presented a…

Paper: Alternative communication channel over NTP

In a new paper published today, independent researcher Nikolaos Tsapakis writes about the possibilities of malware using NTP as a covert communication channel and how to stop this.

We have placed cookies on your device in order to improve the functionality of this site, as outlined in our cookies policy. However, you may delete and block all cookies from this site and your use of the site will be unaffected. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to Virus Bulletin's use of data as outlined in our privacy policy.