Incite 3/9/2011: Greed Is (fill in the blank)By Mike Rothman
As most of you know, I’m a huge NFL fan. In fact I made my kids watch the combine on NFL Network two weeks ago when the Boss was away. The frickin’ combine. I was on the edge of my seat watching some guy run a 4.34 40-yard dash. And heard the groans of the crowd when a top rated offensive tackle did only 21 bench presses of 225 pounds. That’s it? And some defensive lineman did 50 reps on the bench. 50 reps. If this DT thing doesn’t work out, I’m sure he’s got a future benching Pintos in the circus.
Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you also know the NFL players’ union and owners are locked in a stand-off to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement. It’s hard to sympathize with either side – either the billionaires or the multi-millionaires. Though when you read this truly outstanding piece by Bill Simmons of ESPN, you get a different perspective, and it’s even hard to feel anything but disdain for the owners. Though I’m not going to shed any tears for the players either. But if you really want, you can feel sad for the biggest bust in NFL draft history, because he made $38 million and still had his house end up in foreclosure.
I’m not sure about you, but Wall Street is still one of my all-time favorite movies. Though it’s debatable whether Bud Fox is #winning nowadays. When Gekko does his soliloquy at the annual meeting, anchored by the catchphrase “Greed is good,” I still get chills down my spine. Although I’m not sure I believe it any more. You see, I grew up in a pretty modest home. We weren’t poor, but we weren’t rich either. I had stuff, but not the best stuff. I did things, but my friends did more. So I’ve always chased the money, most likely out of some misguided childhood belief that I missed out on something.
That pursuit has brought me nothing but angst. I’ve made poor career decisions. I’ve worked with assholes. And I didn’t get rich. Sure, I’m comfortable and I’m fortunate to be able to provide a nice lifestyle for my family, but I can’t buy a plane. At one point in my life, I’d have viewed myself as a failure because of that. So no more chasing the money. If I find it, all the better, but my career decisions are based on what I like to do, not how much I can make.
As I’ve gotten older, I have also realized that what’s right for me may not be right for you. So if you still want to own a plane, more power to you. We need folks with that drive to build great companies and create lots of value and spur the economy. Just don’t ask me to play along. I’m not interested in running a competitor out of business. Nor am I interested in extracting every nickel and dime from our clients or screwing someone over to buy another yacht.
And that’s also why I’m not the owner of an NFL team. So I guess my answer is “Greed is not interesting anymore.”
Photo credits: “Greed” originally uploaded by Mike Smail
Incite 4 U
We suck at hiring: Many of you work at reasonably sized companies. You know, the kind of company with an HR department to tell you not to surf pr0n on your corporate laptop. Those helpful HR folks also lead the hiring process for your security folks, right? This post by Chief Monkey should hit you in the banana (or taco – we don’t want to discriminate). I usually like a rent to own approach. Offer promising folks a short term contract, and if they have the goods bring them aboard. Yes, I know that in a competitive job market (like security), some candidates may not like it. But your organization is probably more screwed up than anything they have seen before, so this provides some risk mitigation for the candidate as well. They could opt out before it gets much more difficult. – MR
Just say no (Rich’s take): Believe it or not, sometimes saying no is the right thing to do. I realize we’re all new-age self-actualized security pros these days, but sometimes you need to hit the brakes before ramming into the back of that car parked in the center lane while some doofus tries to finish a text message. Wells Fargo is clamping down on any use of employee-owned devices, and simultaneously experimenting with corporate iPads to supplement corporate smartphones. In a business like financial services, it only makes sense to operate a more restrictive environment and require employees to use personal devices and personal networks for personal stuff. Not that I’m saying the rest of you need to be so restrictive – you are not one of the biggest financials in the world and you probably won’t be able to get away with being so draconian. Heck, thanks to iPhones/Android/Winmo7 your users can still access Facebook all they want while at work… without hitting your network. – RM
Just say no (Adrian’s take): Well’s Fargo’s IT department is saying no to personal devices being connected to the corporate network. Part of me says “Good for them!” I don’t use the same machine to surf the web as I do for online banking, so SoD (Separation of Devices) seems like a good idea. Part of me thinks Wells Fargo makes so many bad decisions in general, what if this is wrong too? I started to wonder if we could see a time when the local area network is only partially secured, and the banks let employees use their own devices on the less secure area. What if critical applications and processes are heavily secured in the cloud, as they move away from the users who create a lot of the security problems? Would that be a better model for separating general usage from critical processes and machines? Food for thought. – AL
Looking for work, Tier 1 spammer… So Soloway is out of the big house. I wonder if he has any KY left from the care package from the founders of the anti-spam companies. Besides that happy thought, he claims to be done with sending out unsolicited email. Good, because that’s probably not the best way to make a fortune anymore. Now you need to be proficient with botnets, money mules, and money laundering in order to get ahead in the fast-paced cybercrime business. It takes more than a big list of email addresses and a spam cannon to make it nowadays. – MR
Google ♥ security? I’m not the biggest fan of the evil empire, but you have to give credit where credit is due. Google went out and bought Zynamics, otherwise known as the source of Bindiff and the home of Halvar Flake. These are binary-level tools and experts, not web hacking types like you might expect. In some other research I’ve been working on, a trusted insider type really hit home that while Google still screws up a lot, especially on their beta apps, their major apps like Gmail and Calendar are pretty darn secure. The odds are this is more about Google getting additional expertise than wanting the particular products, but as long as someone is out there trying to spy on my every activity it’s nice to know they’re willing to hire some real muscle to lock things down. Then again, maybe they just want more folks to hack and disclose Microsoft vulnerabilities. Imagine that. – RM
Navel gazing: Compuware, under their pseudonym CloudSleuth, has answered a question that nobody was asking: Whose cloud service has the fastest response times? Apparently Microsoft’s Azure service was the fastest, leading its next fastest rival GoGrid by a whopping three-tenths of a second. What’s plain from the results is that the location of the cloud site selected creates the biggest delta between services, so it’s hard to call this an apples to apples comparison, even if the results interest you. I supposed measuring performance is what you do when you have trouble coming up with metrics that describe elasticity, self service, security, multi-tenancy, or abstract architectures. Or perhaps this is a way to justify their $295M investment in Gomez performance monitoring software. It just seems kinda lame to measure one of the least interesting traits of the cloud. – AL
Death knell for network security? Hardly. Wait, stop the presses! FUD from an endpoint company trying to convince folks their stuff is still relevant? No, say it ain’t so! Unfortunately it is. Our endpoint friends continue playing the shell game – don’t look at our effectiveness, look at the mobile and cloud shiny objects instead. The reality, though, hasn’t changed in 15 years. You need to protect both the network and the endpoint. Period. Yes, more devices are being used in a mobile context, but there are ways to extend perimeter protection to those mobile devices. I just think it’s funny that anyone talks about the death of anything, as they log into the network using their SecurID token. – MR