Introducing Securosis Plus: Now with 100% More Incite!

I’m incredibly excited to finally announce that as of today, Mike Rothman is joining Securosis. This is a full merger of Security Incite and Securosis, and something I’ve been looking forward to for years. Back when I started the Securosis blog over 3 years ago I was still an analyst at Gartner and was interested in participating more with the open security community. A year later I decided to leave Gartner and the blog became my employer. I wasn’t certain exactly what I wanted to do, and was restricted a bit due to my non-compete, but I quickly learned that I was able to support myself and my family as an independent voice. Mike was running Incite at the time, and seeing him succeed helped calm some of my fears about jumping out of a stable, enjoyable job. Mike also gave me some crucial advice that was incredibly helpful as I set myself up. One of my main goals in leaving Gartner was to gain the freedom to both participate more with, and give back to, the security community. Gartner was great, but the nature of its business model prevents analysts from giving away their content to non-clients, and restricts some of their participation in the greater community. It’s also hard to perform certain kinds of primary research, especially longer-term projects. Since I had a non-compete, I sort of needed to give everything away for free anyway. Things were running well, but I was also limited in how much I could cover or produce on my own. I may have published more written words than any other security analyst out there (between papers and blog posts), but it was still a self-limiting situation. Then about 18 months ago Adrian joined and turned my solo operation into an actual analyst firm. At the same time Mike and I realized we shared a common vision for where we’d like to take the research and analysis game, and started setting up to combine operations. We even had a nifty company name and were working on the nitty-gritty details. When we had our very first conversation about teaming up, Mike told me there was only one person he’d work for again, but there wasn’t anything on the radar. Then, of course, he got the call right before we wrote up the final paperwork. We both saw this as a delay, not an end, and the time is finally here. This is exciting to me for multiple reasons. First, we now gain an experienced analyst who has been through the wringer with one of the major firms (Meta), thrived as an independent analyst, and fought it out on the mean streets of vendor-land. There aren’t many great analysts out there – and even fewer with Mike’s drive, productivity, experience, and vision. This also enables us to create the kind of challenging research environment I’ve missed since leaving Gartner. With Mike and our Contributors (David Mortman, David Meier, and Chris Pepper) we now have a team of six highly-opinionated and experienced individuals ready to challenge and push each other in ways simply not possible with only 2-3 people. Mike also shares my core values. Everything we write is for the end user, no matter the actual target audience. We should always give away as much as possible for free. We should conduct real primary research, as opposed to merely commenting on the world around us. Everything we produce should be pragmatic and help someone get their job done better and faster. Our research should be as objective and unbiased as possible, and we’ll use transparency and our no-BS approach as enforcement mechanisms. Finally, we’re lifers in the security industry – this is a lifestyle business, not a get-rich-quick scheme. This is also an amazing opportunity to work closely with one of the people I respect most in our industry. Someone I’ve become close friends with since first meeting on the rubber-chicken circuit. In our updated About section and the Merger FAQ, there’s a lot of talk about all the new things this enables us to do, and the additional value for our supporters and paying clients. But to me the important part is I get to work with someone I like and respect. Someone I know will push me like few others out there. Someone who shares my vision, and is fun to work with. The only bad part is the commute. It’s going to be a real bi%^& to fly Mike out to Phoenix for Happy Hour every week. Share:

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Mike Rothman Joins Securosis

Technology start-ups are unique organisms that affect employees very differently than other types of companies. Tech start-ups are about bringing new ideas to market. They are about change, and often founded on an alternative perspective of how to conduct business. They are more likely to leverage new technologies, hire unique people, and try different approaches to marketing, sales, and solving business problems. People who work at start-ups put more of themselves into their jobs, work a little harder, and are more impassioned about achievement and success. The entire frenetic experience is accelerated to the point where you compress years into months, providing an intimate level of participation not available at larger firms – the experience is addictive. When technology start-ups don’t succeed (the most common case), they take a lot out of their people. Failures result in layoffs or shutdown, and go from decision to unfortunate conclusion overnight. The technology and products employees have been pouring themselves into typically vanish. That’s when you start thinking about what went right and what went wrong, what worked and what didn’t. You think about what you would do differently next time. That process ultimately ends with some pent-up ideas and frustrations which – if you let them eat at you – eventually drive you back into the technology start-up arena. It took me 12 years and 5 start-ups to figure out that I was on a merry-go-round without end, unless I made the choice to step off and be comfortable with my decision. It took significant personal change to accept that no matter how good the vision, judgement, execution, and assembled team were, success was far from guaranteed. Where am I going with this? As you have probably read by now, 18 months ago Rich Mogull, Mike Rothman, and I planned a new IT research firm. Within a few weeks we got the bad news: Mike was going to join a small security technology company to get back on the merry-go-round. From talking with Mike, I knew he had to join them for all the reasons I mentioned above. I could see it in his face, and in the same position I would have done exactly the same thing. Sure, Securosis is a technology start-up as well, but it’s different. While hopeful Mike would be back in 24 months, I could not know for certain. If you are a follower of the Securosis blog, you have witnessed the new site launch in early 2009 and seen our project work evolve dramatically. Much of this was part of the original vision. We kept most of our original plans, jettisoned a few, streamlined others, and moved forward. We found some of our ideas just did not work that well, and others required more resources. We have worked continuously to sharpen our vision of who we are and why we are different, but we have a ways to go. I can say both Rich and I are ecstatic to have Mike formally join the team. It’s not change in my mind, but rather empowerment. Mike brings skills neither of us possesses, and a renewed determination that will help us execute on our initial vision. We will be able to tackle larger projects, cover more technologies, and offer more services. Plus I am looking forward to working with Mike on a daily basis! This is a pretty big day for us here, and thought it appropriate to share some of the thoughts, planning, and emotions behind this announcement. Share:

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Securosis + Security Incite Merger FAQ

What are you announcing? Today, we are announcing that Mike Rothman is joining Securosis as Analyst/President (Rich remains Analyst/CEO). This is a full merger of Securosis and Security Incite. Why is this a good move for Securosis? Not to sound trite, but bringing on Mike is a no-brainer. This immediately and significantly broadens Securosis’ coverage and positions us to grow materially in ways we couldn’t do without another great analyst. There are very few people out there with Mike’s experience as an independent analyst and entrepreneur. Mike proved he could thrive as a one-man operation (his jump to eIQ wasn’t a financial necessity), completely shares our values, and brings an incredible range of experience to the table. Those who read our blog and free research reports gain additional content in areas we simply couldn’t cover. Mike will be leading our network and endpoint security coverage, as well as bringing over the Pragmatic CSO (sorry, you still have to pay for it) and the Daily Incite (which we’re restructuring a bit, as you’ll see later in this FAQ). Given Rich and Adrian’s coverage overlap, adding Mike nearly doubles our coverage… with our contributors (David Mortman, Dave Meier, and Chris Pepper) rounding us out even more. Mike is also a “high producer”, which means we’ll deliver even more free content to the community. Our existing clients now gain access to an additional analyst, and Mike’s clients now gain access to all of the Securosis resources and people. Aside from covering different technical areas, Mike brings “in the trenches” strategy, marketing, and business analysis experience that neither Rich nor Adrian have, as they specialize more on the tech side. In terms of the company, this also allows us to finally execute on the vision we first started building 18 months ago (Securosis has been around longer, but that’s when we came up with our long-term vision). As we’ll discuss in a second, we have some big plans for new products, and we honestly couldn’t achieve our goals without someone of Mike’s experience. Why is this a good move for Security Incite and Mike Rothman? Mike digs a lot deeper into his perspectives in a POPE (People, Opportunity, Product, Exit) analysis, but basically there was a limitation in the impact Mike could have and what he could do as a solo practitioner. Finding kindred spirits in Rich and Adrian enables us to build the next great IT research firm. This, in turn, is a prime opportunity to build products targeting a grossly underserved market (mid-market security and IT professionals), while continuing to give back to the community by publishing free research. This allows Mike to get back to his roots as a network security analyst and enables Securosis to provide full and broad coverage of all security and compliance topics, which benefits both end user and vendor clients. But mostly it’s as Rich said: a great opportunity to work with great guys and build something great. What is the research philosophy of Securosis? Will that change now that Mike Rothman is part of the team? Securosis’ core operating philosophy is Totally Transparent Research. That says it all. Bringing Mike to the team doesn’t change a thing. In fact, he wouldn’t have it any other way. As Mike has produced (as a META analyst) and bought (as a vendor) “mostly opaque” research from the big research shops, he certainly understands the limitations of that approach and knows there is a better way. Who is your target customer? Securosis will target mid-market security and IT professionals. These folks have perhaps the worst job in IT. They have most of the same problems as larger enterprises, but far fewer resources and less funding. Helping these folks ensure and accelerate the success of their projects is our core objective for new information products and syndicated research offerings in 2010. Will all the research remain free and available on the Securosis blog? Yes, all of the Securosis primary research will continue to be published on the blog. Our research may be packaged up and available in document form from our sponsors, but the core research will always appear first on the blog. This is a critical leg of the Totally Transparent Research model. Our community picks apart our research and makes it better. That makes the end result more actionable and more effective. What kind of information products are you going to produce? We’re not ready to announce our product strategy quite yet, but suffice it to say we’ll have a family of products designed to accelerate security and compliance project success. The entry price will be modest and participating in a web-based community will be a key part of the customer experience. What about the existing retainer clients of Securosis? How will they be supported? Securosis will continue to support existing retainer customers. We’ve rolled out a new set of retainer packages for clients interested in an ongoing relationship. All our analysts participate in supporting our retainer clients. What’s going to happen to the Daily Incite? The Daily Incite is becoming the Securosis Incite and will continue to provide hard-hitting and hopefully entertaining commentary on the happenings in the security industry. Now we have 6 contributors to add their own “Incite” to the mix. We are also supplementing the Incite with other structured weekly blog posts including the “Securosis FireStarter,” which will spur discussion and challenge the status quo. We’ll continue producing the Securosis Weekly Summary to keep everyone up to date on what we’ve been up to each week. What about the Pragmatic CSO? The Pragmatic CSO is alive and well. You can still buy the book on the website and that isn’t changing. You may have noticed many of the research models Securosis has rolled out over the past year are “Pragmatic” in both name and nature. That’s not an accident. Taking a pragmatic approach is central to our philosophy of security and the Pragmatic CSO is the centerpiece of that endeavor. So you can expect lots more Pragmatism from Securosis over the coming years.

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Password Policy Disclosure

I am no fan of “security through obscurity”. Peer review and open discourse on security have proven essential in development of network protocols and cryptographic algorithms. Regardless, that does not mean I choose to disclose everything. I may disclose protocols and approach, but certain details I choose to remit. Case in point: if I were Twitter, and wanted to reduce account hijacking by ridding myself of weak passwords which can be easily guessed, I would not disclose my list of weak passwords to the user community. As noted by TechCrunch: If you’re on Twitter, that means you registered an account with a password that isn’t terribly easy to guess. As you may know, Twitter prevents people from doing just that by indicating that certain passwords such as ‘password’ (cough cough) and ‘123456’ are too obvious to be picked. It just so happens that Twitter has hard-coded all banned passwords on the sign-up page. All you need to do to retrieve the full list of unwelcome passwords is take a look at the source code of that page. Do a simple search for ‘twttr.BANNED_PASSWORDS’ and voila, there they are, all 370 of them. The common attack vector is to perform a dictionary attack on known accounts. A good dictionary is an important factor for success. It is much easier to create a good dictionary if you know for certain many common passwords will not be present. Making the list easy to discover makes it much easier for someone to tune their dictionary. I applaud Twitter for trying to improve passwords and thereby making them tougher to guess, but targeted attacks just got better as well. Because here’s a list of 370 passwords I don’t have to test. Share:

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