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Incite - 1/6/2009 - The Power of Contrast

By Mike Rothman

Good Morning:

It’s been quite a week, and it’s only Wednesday. The announcement of Securosis “Plus” went extremely well, and I’m settling into my new digs. Seems like the last two days just flew by. As I was settling in to catch some zzzz’s last night, I felt content. I put in a good day’s work, made some progress, and was excited for what the next day had to bring. Dare I say it? I felt happy. (I’m sure I’ve jinxed myself for another 7 years.)

It reminds me of a lyric from Shinedown that really resonated:

There’s a hard life for every silver spoon
There’s a touch of grey for every shade of blue
That’s the way that I see life
If there was nothing wrong,
Then there’d be nothing right

-Shinedown, What a Shame

It’s about contrast. If I didn’t have less than stellar job experiences (and I’ve had plenty of those), clearly I couldn’t appreciate what I’m doing now. It’s also a big reason why folks that have it pretty good sometimes lose that perspective. They don’t have much bad to contrast. Keep that in mind and if you need a reminder of how lucky you are, head down to the food bank for a few hours.

The most surprising thing to me (in a positive way) about joining the team is the impact of having someone else look at your work, challenge it and suggest ways to make it better. Yesterday I sent a post that will hit Friday on FUDSEC to the team. The first draft was OK, but once Rich, Adrian, Mort and Chris Pepper got their hands on it and suggested some tuning - the post got markedly better. Then I got it.

Just to reinforce the notion, the quote in today’s InformationWeek Daily newsletter hit home as well:

If you want to go quickly, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together.

-African proverb

True dat. Have a great day.

-Mike

Incite 4 U

This week Mike takes the bulk of the Incite, but did get some contributions from Adrian. Over the coming weeks, as we get the underlying systems in place, you’ll be getting Incite from more of the team. We’ll put our initials next to each snippet we write, just so you know who to send nasty email.

  1. Monetizing Koobface: I’m fascinated by how the bad guys monetize their malware, so this story on Dark Reading highlighting some research from Trend Micro was interesting. The current scheme du jour is fake anti-virus. It must be working since over the holiday I got a call from my FiL (Father in Law) about how he got these pop-ups about needing anti-virus. Thankfully he didn’t click anything and had already made plans to get the machine re-imaged. - MR

  2. Identity + Network = MUST: Gartner’s Neil MacDonald has a post entitled Identity-Awareness Should be a Feature, not a Product, where he’s making the point that as things virtualize and hybrid computing models prevail, it’s not an option to tie security policies to physical attributes. So pretty much all security products will need to tie into Active Directory, RADIUS and LDAP. Yes, I know most already do, but a while back IP to ID was novel. Now, not so much. - MR

  3. Puffery Indeed: I had a personal ban on blogging about the Cloud in 2009 as there were a lot of people doing a lot of talking but saying very little. This NetworkWorld post on “Tone-deaf Unisys official on why cloud computing rocks; Or what shouldn’t get lost in all the puffery over cloud technology” is the embodiment of the puffery. The point of the post - as near as I can tell - was to say companies need to “embrace cloud computing” and “security concerns are the leading cause of enterprise and individual users’ hesitancy in adopting cloud computing”. Duh! The problem is that the two pieces of information are based on unsubstantiated vendor press releases and double-wrapped in FUD. Richard Marcello of Unisys manages to pose cloud technologies as a form of outsourcing US jobs, and Paul Krill says these are a mid-term competitive requirement for businesses. Uh, probably not on either account. Still, giving them the benefit of the doubt, I checked the ‘survey’ that is supposed to corroborate hesitancy of Cloud adoption, but what you get is an unrelated 2007 survey on Internet trust. A subsequent ‘survey’ link goes to a Unisys press releases for c-RIM products. WTF? I understand ‘Cloud’ is the hot topic to write about, but unless your goal is to totally confound readers while mentioning a vendor a bunch of times, just stop it with the random topic association. - AL

  4. Speeds and Feeds Baby: Just more of an observation because I’ve been only tangentially covering network security over the past few years. It seems speeds and feeds still matter. At least from the standpoint of beating your chest in press releases. Fortinet is the latest guilty party in talking about IPv6 thruput. Big whoop. It kills me that “mine is bigger than yours” is still used as a marketing differentiator. I’m probably tilting at windmills here a bit, since these filler releases keep the wire services afloat, so it’s not all bad. - MR

  5. Time for the Software Security Group: It’s amazing how we can get access to lots of data and still ignore it. Gary McGraw, one of the deans of software security, has a good summary of his ongoing BSIMM (Building Security In) research on the InformIT blog. He covers who should do software security, how big your group should be, and also how many software security folks there are out there (not enough). In 2010, band-aids (WAFs, etc.) will still prevail, but if you don’t start thinking of how to structurally address the issue, which means a PROGRAM and a group responsible to execute on that program, things are never going to improve. - MR

  6. Saving Private MySQL: Charles Babcock’s post on “MySQL’s Former Owner Can’t ‘Save’ It After Selling It” was thought provoking. It seems a “no-brainer” that, since Oracle owns MySQL, they should be allowed to do what they please with the code. But factoring in potential anti-competitive aspects of killing MySQL makes it a deeper decision. Charles makes the point that it is somewhat disingenuous to sell an open source product that is viewed as community property, and the seeming hypocrisy of the seller now complaining about the fate of the product. I have maintained that there is no reason for Oracle to kill MySQL off as it can drive upsell opportunities for the Oracle database if properly managed. Realistically speaking, fiefdoms within Oracle will fight for their turf, so all possibilities must be considered. I believe MySQL is too valuable to let wither and die. The piece is worth a read! - AL

  7. Attacking People: Rich just posted a good piece on Macworld about the typical scams Mac users see. Yes, they are the same as what non-Mac users see - phishing, identity theft, auction fraud, etc. I remarked on Twitter that it’s been the same for 10,000 years: folks stealing from folks. CSOAndy makes that point on his blog as well, but talking about the Twitter DNS attack before the holidays. No, DNSSEC would not have stopped this attack because it was an attack on people. Their DNS service got owned, therefore they did. So all the technology in the world is great, but people are still our weakest link, by far. - MR

  8. Beware the FUD: We live in a 24/7 world and that means the media is always looking for something to drive page views. Bill Brenner at CSO mentions 3 examples of stories that got a lot of airtime, but probably shouldn’t have because they were mostly crap. Like the Black Screen of Death, which wasn’t really a problem. PrevX lets the story run for a couple of days and then calls a “my bad.” Guess I don’t blame them, since it was generating plenty of press. Though not sure how admitting you were wrong impacts the credibility bank. He also calls out some Chicken Little behavior from Paul Kurtz and his cyber-katrina scenario. I can just see 30,000 folks stuck in the Superdome without the ability to Tweet. Keep in mind, this is a bed of our own making. We like hyper-connectivity, but there is always a downside. - MR

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