Incite 10/6/2010: The Answer is 42

One of my favorite passages in literature is when Douglas Adams proclaims the Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything to be 42 in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Of course, we don’t know the Ultimate Question. Details. This week I plan to discover he was right as I finish my 42nd year on the planet. That seems old. It’s a big number. But I don’t feel old. In fact, I feel like a big kid. Sometimes I look at my own kids and my house and snicker a bit. Can you believe they’ve entrusted any responsibility to me? These kids think I actually know something? Ha, that’s a laugher… Since I’m trying not to look forward and plan, I figure I should look backward and try to appreciate the journey. As I look back, I can kind of break things up into a couple different phases. My childhood was marked by anger. Yeah, I know you are shocked. But I took everything bad that happened personally, and as a result, I was a pretty angry kid. College was a blur. I know I drank a lot of beer. I think I studied a bit. When I graduated I entered the unbreakable phase. Right, like the Oracle database. I could do little wrong. I had a pretty quick progression through the corporate ranks. In hindsight it was too quick. I didn’t screw anything up, so I felt invincible. I also didn’t learn a hell of a lot, but thought I did. Sound familiar? Then I started a software company in 1998 to chase the Internet bubble IPO money. I learned pretty quickly that I wasn’t invincible, as I heard the sound of $30 million of someone else’s money being flushed down the toilet. Crash. Big time. Then I entered the striving stage throughout my 30’s. Striving for more and never being satisfied. From there I proceeded to jump from job to job every 15 months, chasing some shiny object and trying to catch the brass ring. Again, that didn’t work out too well and I found myself getting angry again. Then I started Incite and was a lot happier. I managed to remember what I liked to do and then start to address some of my deeply buried issues. No, I’m not going to bare my soul like Bill Brenner, but we all have demons to face and at that point I started facing my own. I took a detour back into the vendor world for 15 months, and then sold Rich and Adrian a bill of goods to let me hang my shingle at Securosis. 10 months in, I’m having the time of my life. I’m thinking this is the contented phase. I’ve been working hard, at everything. Physically, I’m in the best shape I’ve been in since my early 20’s. Mentally I’m making progress, working to accept what’s happening and stop looking forward at the expense of being present. I’m happy with what I do and what I have. My family loves me and I love them. What else does a guy need? I’m still fighting demons, and I probably always will. The hope is that my epic battles will be fewer and farther between over time. I’m still screwing things up, and I’ll probably always do that too. That’s an entrepreneur’s curse. I’m also learning new things almost every day, and when that stops it’s time to move on to the Great Unknown. As I look back, I figured out what my Ultimate Question is: “When do you realize it’s a game and you should enjoy the ride, both the ups and the downs?” Right. For me, the answer is 42. – Mike. Photo credits: “42” originally uploaded by cszar Recent Securosis Posts Friday Summary: September 30, 2010 Monitoring up the Stack: DAM, Part 2 App Monitoring, Part 1 App Monitoring, Part 2 Understanding and Selecting a DLP Solution A Wee Bit on DLP SaaS “DLP Light” and DLP Features NSO Quant Posts The End is Near! Comprehensive Index of Posts Incite 4 U Get on the (security incident) cycle – Good summary here by Lenny Zeltser covering a presentation from our hero Richard Bejtlich about how he’s built the Incident Response team at GE to deal with things like well-funded patient attackers (note I didn’t use the a(blank)t acronym). Of course there will always be failures, but the question is about organizational commitment to detecting adversaries and putting the right capabilities in place to protect your organization. And to look at security as a process and – dare I say it – a lifecycle. That means you need to focus on all aspects – before, during, and after the attack. Amazingly enough, Rich and I are starting another blog series on exactly this topic in about a week. – MR Save the children… with robots – The state of technology education in this country is simply embarrassing. Everyone talks about how kids use a mouse before they can read, but how many of them understand how a computer works? You’d think today’s teenagers would know a hard drive from RAM, but not if they rely on their (standard) school to teach them. However, they are pretty good at putting cats in PowerPoints. Our friend Chris Hoff is trying to change this with a hacking conference dedicated to kids… called, appropriately enough, HacKid. It’s an amazing idea, with everything from Lego robots to online safety covered, and if you have kids of the right age, or just want to support it, I highly recommend attending or getting involved. – RM No trust for you! – Despite being a big fan of monitoring technologies, I thought the Trust No One, Monitor Everything position was a bit over the top. The “monitor everything” approach fails for exactly the same reasons “encrypt everything” fails: a single technology cannot solve every problem. Monitoring is just another security tool, and before you try to saw wood with a hammer, remember attacks that bypass WAF, IDS, App Monitoring, and DAM are well documented. Don’t

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