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Building 32 Map

Thunderstrike: EFI firmware bootkits for Apple MacBooks

February 10, 2016, 4-5 PM

Trammell Hudson
Two Sigma Investments

Host: Frans Kaashoek
Host Affiliation: MIT CSAIL

This talk describes Thunderstrike, an attack that installs persistent firmware modifications into the boot ROM of Apple's popular MacBooks. The bootkit can be installed by an evil-maid via the externally accessible Thunderbolt ports. Alternatively, a remote SW attack can amplify root privileges yielding the same result. Once installed, 1) it can prevent software attempts to remove it, 2) it can survive reinstallation of the operating system as well as hard drive replacement, and 3) it can spread virally across air-gaps by infecting additional Thunderbolt devices. Thunderstrike exploits several "features" of modern laptops. The Thunderbolt connection exposes the PCI bus to external devices, and external Thunderbolt devices contain flash memory which store option roms containing code that is executed early in the boot process. Unfortunately, current Macbooks lack full hardware or software cryptographic checks of firmware validity. Once malicious code has been flashed to the RO! M, the attack controls the system from the very first instruction and can hide from attempts to detect it. Since Thunderbolt devices' Option ROMs can be rewritten by software, the bootkit can write copies of itself to new Thunderbolt devices. And since the devices remain functional, a stealthy bootkit may spread across air-gap security perimeters through shared Thunderbolt devices. Thunderstrike is the first firmware worm for Macintosh systems built upon several previously disclosed vulnerabilities that were ported from Windows systems to Apple's firmware. Our research shows that vulnerabilities targeting the these firmwares may transcend operating systems as they share millions of lines of code in their common root ancestor, Intel's reference implementation. We explain the vulnerabilities enabling the attack, how they were uncovered, mitigation strategies, and fixes by Apple.
Trammell Hudson is a programmer, photographer, frequent hacker and occasional watchmaker. He enjoys reverse engineering things, restoring antique computers and making things blink. Sometimes he uses his Amateur Extra rating (NY3U) and hack on Radio and RF projects. He also has other hobbies involving coffee, aviation, sailing and other vehicles. And on the weekends he enjoys teaching classes at NYC Resistor.

MIT general map location link

One of a Series: Physics Colloquium

Atom Trap, Krypton-81, and Global Groundwater

February 11, 2016, 4-4:30 PM

Zheng-Tian Lu
University of Science and Technology of China

Host: Yen-Jie Lee

The long-lived noble-gas isotope 81Kr is the ideal tracer for water and ice with ages of
105 - 106 years, a range beyond the reach of 14C. 81Kr-dating, a concept pursued over the past five decades, is finally available to the earth science community at large. This is made possible by the development of the Atom Trap Trace Analysis (ATTA) method, in which individual atoms of the desired isotope are captured and detected. ATTA possesses superior selectivity, and is thus far used to analyze the environmental radioactive isotopes 81Kr, 85Kr, and 39Ar. These three isotopes have extremely low isotopic abundances in the range of 10-16 to 10-11, and cover a wide range of ages and applications. In collaboration with earth scientists, we are dating groundwater and mapping its flow in major aquifers around the world. We have also demonstrated for the first time 81Kr-dating of old ice.

One of a Series: MIT Holidays

MIT Closed - Presidents' Day

February 15, 2016

One Main Street
East Arcade - 1st floor
Cambridge, MA 02142

Cracking Cancer - Startup Exchange Workshop

February 18, 2016, 8:30-11:30 AM

Cracking cancer is among the most ambitious goals of contemporary medicine. We have never been closer. A tremendous amount of innovation is ongoing. MIT Startup Exchange (STEX) is convening a workshop to discuss the latest advances in cancer innovation from the perspective of industry, academia, venture, and startups in the MIT ecosystem redefining the field today. We aim to cover innovation models, technologies, collaboration patterns, and partnerships.

Cracking Cancer will be held on Thursday, February 18, 2016, 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM at One Main Street, Cambridge, MA, USA. The target audience is the MIT innovation ecosystem, including faculty, students, startups, and ILP member companies. Fifteen seats are reserved for MIT startup founders and executives. Fifteen seats are reserved for ILP member companies. Fifteen seats are reserved for MIT faculty/staff/student innovators. This event will kick off the MIT STEX Biotech cluster, which currently contains 169 startups. All are welcome and attendance is free.

08:45 AM Breakfast and registration.

First session

08:45 AM Welcome: "MIT's biotech startups working on cancer: ," Trond Undheim, Ph.D., Lead, MIT Startup Exchange, MIT ILP (host).

09:00 AM Introductory remarks: "Connecting industry to research, innovation, and startups", Karl Koster, Executive Director, MIT ILP.

09:15 AM "MIT innovations in biotech that will change the world: cancer, diabetes, and new drug delivery mechanisms", Robert S. Langer, David H. Koch Institute Professor, MIT. Professor Langer has co-founded 30+ startups.

09:30 AM Keynote: Biotech company [TBD]

Coffee break (5 min).

Second session

09:50 AM Keynote: TBD.

10:00 AM Keynote: MIT professor

Coffee & networking break (15 min)

10:30 AM: Panel discussion: Cracking cancer
What are important trends in biotech startups from MIT (and elsewhere)?
What does the new cancer innovation ecosystem look like (infrastructure, interoperability, technology, use cases, stakeholders, success stories)?
What are corporate priorities in seeking novel cancer treatments/drugs?
What is the smart money focused on?
Robert S. Langer, David H. Koch Institute Professor, MIT
Daphne Zohar, Founder & CEO, PureTech
Erik M. Schaefer, Ph.D., President, CEO & CSO of AssayQuant Technologies, Inc.
Related STEX Biotech cluster opportunities:

Partner with Pfizer in new ways
Big Data Challenges and Intelligent Decisions
Cleansing technologies and ingredients
Quantitative Chemical Analysis
Real-Time Biomarker Sensor Development

About MIT Startup Exchange (STEX):
MIT Startup Exchange connects corporates to MIT startups, fostering quality interactions that lead to strong partnerships with impact across the MIT innovation ecosystem.The STEX web community platform and database has 1000+ active MIT startup companies at all stages of development and representing seven technology clusters: Tech/ICT, Biotech, Nanotech, Energy Tech, Advanced Manufacturing, Healthcare, and Hybrid Innovation as well as services and consumer based startups. See http://startupexchange.mit.edu ABOUT and FAQS for more information.

Building 10 Map

One of a Series: Physics Colloquium

Second-Order Phase Transitions and Conformal Field Theories

February 11, 2016, 4-4:30 PM

Zohar Komargodski
Weizmann Institute of Science

Host: Hong Liu

We review some recent progress on the long-standing problem of characterizing second-order phase transitions. The symmetries of second-order transitions are now better understood. In addition, there are new general results about critical exponents, a better control of what happens when relevant operators are turned on, and some constraints on higher correlation functions. These new ideas can be tested in systems ranging from boiling water to quantum gravity in Anti-de Sitter space.

MIT general map location link

Stellarator confinement of fusion plasmas

February 18, 2016, 11 AM

Allen Boozer
Columbia University

Building 32 Map

One of a Series: Biology Colloquium

CRISPR Biology and the Future of Genome Engineering

February 23, 2016, 4 PM

Jennifer Doudna
UC Berkeley

Host: Wendy Gilbert

MIT general map location link

Challenge by HTS Helical Fusion Reactor

February 24, 2016, 11 AM

Nagato Yanagi
National Institute for Fusion Science