Incite 6/15/2011: Shortcut to HypocrisyBy Mike Rothman
I’m not a big basketball fan. I like the NCAA tournament. I may watch a game or two of the NBA playoffs/finals, but I don’t follow them. It seems nothing can get our nation to rise up like a common enemy. That enemy was the Miami Heat. My Tweeter exploded last night with all sorts of venom against the Heat, as they were losing to the Mavs. I could only laugh. Because it was a great example of the hypocrisy of so many sports fans.
The Heat draws the ire of basically everyone because the top 3 free agents last year decided to play in Miami. The big 3 each took a $10-20MM financial hit in order to win championships. Sure, I see how fans of other teams can feel put out. Especially the fans in Cleveland who ended up holding the bag when LeBron left. But folks in LA? Folks in Boston? Folks in NYC? C’mon, man! How is what those teams do any different than what the Heat did? Except maybe the Heat did a better job – they landed the free agent whales.
It seems like Boston fans have managed to forget Danny Ainge betting the ranch to bring in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to join Paul Pierce. And they delivered a championship. But that was different, right, Celtics fans? The Knicks signed A’mare and then traded pretty much everything else to get Carmelo Anthony. How is that different, especially after a first round exit in the playoffs? They talk about short cuts and in some of these pro leagues an owner willing to bet the ranch can assemble a very competitive team right now.
How about baseball? The Yankees and Red Sox have been doing this forever. The Phillies joined the club this year as well, paying through the nose for Cliff Lee. And would it surprise anyone to see these teams playing in late October? What’s more surprising was last year, when teams like San Francisco and Texas got to play in the World Series. That gets my the point: folks are really pissed merely because their teams couldn’t get those guys. Basically they are jealous and complaining someone else did a better job – hypocrites.
Maybe the sorest guy about this whole thing is the dude that owns the Cavs – Dan Gilbert. He was kind enough to tweet about the fact there are no shortcuts, which is a load of crap. There may not be a shortcut directly to winning the championship, but there are certainly shortcuts to make a team very competitive. And if you aren’t competitive, I’m pretty sure you won’t be playing in the championship.
Photo credits: “Hypocrisy” originally uploaded by satosphere
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On the “budget less” CISO: Raf Los seems to be hell-bent on antagonizing pretty much every CISO out there, advocating a divorce of the CISO from the security budget. The thing is, he’s advocating taking away something that was never really there in the first place. Sure, every company (of scale anyway) has a security budget, but that’s not our money. That’s the money the business has allocated as a cost of doing business. Maybe it’s to meet compliance needs. Maybe it’s to provide a minimum level of security. You can be sure the CFO will be trying to minimize this cost. Raf talks about a very Pragmatic approach to working with the business, in order to get them ultimately to buy into better controls. I have long believed that persuasion is the CISO’s most important skill – you must make the case to protect against an unknown attacker, using an unknown attack, going after data that may or may not be important. – MR
ePayment pie: The fight for mobile payment supremacy is in full swing. And why not? Person to person commerce – with every mobile device able to be a point of sale terminal – offers huge potential revenue. The credit card providers love the concept of Square and Mophie Marketplace. It’s a win-win – for the banks anyway. Not only does more money move through the credit card system, but it gets close to removing cash from commerce altogether by making credit and pre-pay cards the de facto currency, with 2-3% transaction fees. Tons of smaller virtual currency providers are popping up to support people who want to pay in different ways, for everything from social networking to porn. You know it’s a big deal when the political lobbyists are going after other forms of virtual currency – like Bitcoin and Live Gamer – positioning their competition as unstable and only for online gaming and buying illegal drugs. Each virtual currency has its ideal application, and each has benefits for security, privacy, anonymity, and/or financial protection. So we will see plenty of FUD as all the players fight for a bigger slice of the revenue. – AL
Passwords still suck: No, not the actual concept of passwords. Those are fine, as Adrian points out when pushing password managers. But only if you use them. The LulzSec folks continue to wreak havoc, so we might as well learn something from them. Troy Hunt does a great analysis of the passwords posted as a result of one Sony breach. Lots of pie charts and even a comparison to the file of Gawker passwords posted last year. The results are predictable, and sad. Well, they are sad if you want to improve the world. You can be happy if you are just hoping to not get pwned personally. Given the sheer number of weak passwords out there, if you use something a little less weak, you have a good chance of being over the threshold of what’s worthwhile for the bad guys. And lord knows, they are still all about the path of least resistance. – MR
Zero knowledge pulpit: There is absolutely no reason to believe you can’t securely house PCI data in a cloud or virtualized environment. Ellen Messmer’s article questioning the concept, Can virtual machine and cloud systems secure PCI payment card data? is fear-mongering targeted at people who don’t actually understand cloud deployment and service models – or who still think Cloud=SaaS. Of course hypervisor security is critical to security in multi-tenant environments, but even after a decade of VM deployment this avenue of attack remains an academic exercise. Cloud providers need to provide assurance for processes under their control, but that does not mean customers cannot protect themselves in the event of a provider service failure. Data may get scattered across arbitrary resource pools, but that does not mean it is unprotected or unaccounted for. The burden of proof should still reside with the merchant, regardless of deployment – especially in hybrid, community, and private clouds based upon third party infrastructure. The biggest obstacle will be PCI assessors who need to gain comfort with all the variables in play, and understand how their audits change. – AL
Leveraging lulz: Speaking of the LulzSec folks, Adam Shostack riffs a bit on the widely read “Why we secretly love LulzSec” post on Risky Biz. Adam is disappointed that many of us default to the “I told you so” defense that companies with such poor controls get what they deserve. I agree with Adam about the need to share data. But there are additional valuable lessons here, which relate directly to Rich’s Involuntary Case Studies in Data Breaches presentation. Sure, it would be great for us all to share data and learn from each other’s mistakes. But at the end of the day we need to persuade business leaders to protect things more effectively (as mentioned above). Using LulzSec to tell a story is critical. It doesn’t have to be about financial fraud or intellectual fraud. It could be about bashing someone’s mailbox. Not being that guy is a powerful incentive for many senior managers. So now is the time to start evangelizing the new set of controls needed. Or new processes/policies sorely missed. Whatever your plan, these data points can be woven together in powerful ways, not to scare (no Chicken Little crap, okay?) but to educate. And in our business, an educated customer is the best customer. – MR
PS: Your trusty Inciter is taking some vacation next week, so we’ll be on a little hiatus. I’ll be on the beach. Literally. Life will go on. Unless that Rapture thing actually happens. But that’s another story for another day…