Always Be Looking

You really should read Lee Kushner and Mike Murray’s Information Security Leaders blog. Besides being good guys, they usually post good perspectives on career management each week. Like this post on Rats and Ships, where they basically address how to know your company is in trouble and when to start looking for what’s next. Obviously if the company is in turmoil and you don’t have your head in the sand, the writing will be on the wall. I learned in the school of hard knocks that you always have to be looking for what’s next. I know that sounds very cynical. I know it represents a lack of loyalty to whoever you are working for now. You see, things can change in an instant. Your company can lose a big deal. You could be the fall guy (or gal) for a significant breach (remember blame != responsibility). Or you could have a difference of opinion with your boss. There are an infinite number of scenarios that result in the same thing: You, out on your ass, with no job. Usually you expect it, but not always. The absolute worst day of my career was having to lay off a good friend, who had absolutely no idea it was coming. Because I couldn’t give him a head’s up that we were trying to sell the company, he was blindsided. When we closed the deal, almost everyone had to go. Some situations you can see coming, some you can’t. But either way you need to be prepared. If you are in security, you are trained to think defensively. You look at a situation and need to figure out how you can get pwned, screwed, or killed. It’s no different managing your career. Always be aware of how you can get screwed. Hopefully you won’t and you’ll have a long, prosperous career wherever you are, if that’s what you choose. But that doesn’t get you off the hook for being prepared. You should always be out there networking, meeting people, and getting involved in your community and paying it forward. Read Harvey Mackay’s book “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty.” It’s the best book I’ve read about why you need to do something you likely despise – networking. And let’s not forget that opportunity cuts both ways. You need to be ready to pull the rip cord when things come unglued, but sticking around can be worthwhile too. For one, less people around means more opportunity for you, especially if you are pretty junior. You may end up with far more responsibility than your title, salary, and/or experience would otherwise warrant. And if you can see it through to the recovery (to the degree there is a recovery), you are positioned to be an up and comer in your organization. I guess the bigger message is to be aware of what’s going on, and to actively manage your career progression. Don’t let your career manage you. To the degree you want to do that. If you are really a glutton for punishment, start your own company. Then you can stop looking. Because you’ll know where to find all the problems. Photo credit: “Virtual Defensive Driving” originally uploaded by Kristin Brenemen Share:

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Friday Summary: April 8, 2011

I was almost Phished this week. Not by some Nigerian scammer, or Russian botnet, but by my own bank. Bundled with both my checking and mortgage statements – with the bank’s name, logos, and phone number was the warning: “Notice: Credit Report Review Re: Suspicious activity detection”. The letter made it appear that there were ongoing suspicious activity reported by the credit agency, and I needed to take immediate action. I thought “Crud, now I have to deal with this.” Enclosed was a signature sheet that looked like they wanted permission to investigate and take action. But wait a minute – when does my bank ask for permission? My suspicion awoke. I looked at the second page of the letter, under an electron microscope to read the 10^-6 point fine print, and it turned out suspicious activity was only implied. They were using fear of not acting to scare me into signing the sheet. The letter was a ruse to get me to buy credit monitoring ‘Services’ from some dubious partner firm that has been repeatedly fined millions by various state agencies for deceptive business practices. Now my bank – First Usury Depository – is known for new ‘products’ that are actually financial IED’s. Of the 30 fantastic new FUD offerings mailed in the last three years, not one could have saved me money. All would have resulted in higher fees, and all contained traps to hike interest rates or incur hidden charges. But the traps are hidden in the financial terms – they had not stooped to fear before, instead using the lure of financial independence and assurances that I was being very smart. Alan Shimmel’s right that we need to be doubly vigilant for phishing scams, just for the wrong reasons. Both phishers and bank executives are looking to make a quick buck by fooling people. They both use social engineering tactics: official-looking scary communications, to trigger fear, to prompt rushed and careless action. And they both face very low probabilities of jail time. I can’t remember who tweeted “Legitimate breach notification is indistinguishable from phishing”, but it’s true on a number of levels. Phished or FUDded, you’re !@#$ed either way. I have to give First Usury some credit – their attack is harder to detect. I am trained to look at email headers and HTML content, but not so adept at deciphering credit reports and calculating loan-to-value ratios. If I am phished out of my credit card number, I am only liable for the first $50 If I am FUDded into a new service by my bank, it’s $20 every month. Hey, it has worked for AOL for decades… On to the Summary: Webcasts, Podcasts, Outside Writing, and Conferences Mike quoted on metrics in Dark Reading. Adrian’s DAM and Intrusion Defense lesson Rich on Threatpost talking about RSA and Epsilon breaches. Adrian’s Securing Databases In The Cloud: Part 4 at Dark Reading. Favorite Securosis Posts Rich: Less Innovation Please. We don’t need more crap. We need more crap that works. That we use properly. Mike Rothman: Less Innovation Please. Adrian kills it with this post. Exactly right. “We need to use what we have.” Bravo. Adrian Lane: FireStarter: Now What? Other Securosis Posts Always Be Looking. Incite 4/6/2011: Do Work. Fool us once… EMC/RSA Buys NetWitness. Security Benchmarking, Going Beyond Metrics: Collecting Data Systematically. Security Benchmarking, Going Beyond Metrics: Sharing Data Safely. Quick Wins with DLP Light: Technologies and Architectures. Quick Wins with DLP Light: The Process. Favorite Outside Posts Rich: IEEE’s cloud portability project: A fool’s errand? Seriously, do you really think interoperability is in a cloud provider’s best interest? They’ll all push this off as long as possible. What will really happen is smaller cloud vendors will adopt API and functional compatibility with the big boys, hoping you will move to them. Mike Rothman: Jeremiah Grossman Reveals His Process for Security Research. Good interview with the big White Hat. Also other links to interviews with Joanna Rutkowska, HD Moore, Charlie Miller, and some loudmouth named Rothman. Pepper: Creepy really is. You can build a remarkable activity picture / geotrack / slime trail from public photo geolocation tags. Adrian Lane: Incomplete Thought: Cloudbursting Your Bubble – I call Bullshit…. Project Quant Posts DB Quant: Index. NSO Quant: Index of Posts. NSO Quant: Health Metrics–Device Health. NSO Quant: Manage Metrics–Monitor Issues/Tune IDS/IPS. NSO Quant: Manage Metrics–Deploy and Audit/Validate. NSO Quant: Manage Metrics–Process Change Request and Test/Approve. NSO Quant: Manage Metrics–Signature Management. Research Reports and Presentations Network Security in the Age of Any Computing. The Securosis 2010 Data Security Survey. Monitoring up the Stack: Adding Value to SIEM. Network Security Operations Quant Metrics Model. Network Security Operations Quant Report. Understanding and Selecting a DLP Solution. White Paper: Understanding and Selecting an Enterprise Firewall. Understanding and Selecting a Tokenization Solution. Top News and Posts Conde Nast $8M Spear Phishing Scam was mostly buried in the news, but a big deal! Something about email addresses being hacked. You make have heard about it from 50 or so of your closest vendors. Albert Gonzales surprise appeal. IBM to battle Amazon in the public cloud. Cyberwars Should Not Be Defined in Military Terms, Experts Warn. Net giants challenge French data law. EMC Acquires NetWitness Corporation Blog Comment of the Week Remember, for every comment selected, Securosis makes a $25 donation to Hackers for Charity. This week’s best comment goes to Lubinski, in response to Incite: Do Work. “They seem to forget we are all supposed to be on the same team” I work with a few people like this. It makes me wonder if they don’t really think about it and just go on doing what they have been doing for X number of years and consider that good enough. The RSA can get pwnd as easily as the rest of the world, its not like they have users that carry around magical anti-hacker unicorn’s. I see a new buzzword coming on, StuxAPT. 🙂 No? Share:

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