Incite 4/11/2012: Exchanging Problems

I figured an afternoon flight to the midwest would be reasonably peaceful. I was wrong. Things started on the wrong foot when I got an email notification from Delta that the flight was delayed, even though it wasn’t. The resulting OJ sprint through the terminal to make the flight was agitating. Then the tons of screaming kids on the flight didn’t help matters. I’m thankful for noise isolating headphones, that’s for sure. But seeing the parents walking their kids up and down the aisle and dealing with the pain of ascent and descent on the kids’ eardrums got me thinking about my own situation. As I mentioned, I was in Italy last week teaching our CCSK course, but the Boss took the kids up north for spring break to visit family. She flew with all of the kids by herself. 5 years ago that never would have happened. We actually didn’t fly as a family for years because it was just too hard. With infant/toddler twins and one three years older, the pain of getting all the crap through the airport and dealing with security and car seats and all the other misery just wasn’t worth it. It was much easier to drive and for anything less than 6-7 hours, it was probably faster to load up the van. The Boss had no problems on the flight. The kids had their iOS devices and watched movies, played games, ate peanuts, enjoyed soda, and basically didn’t give her a hard time at all. They know how to equalize their ears, so the pain wasn’t an issue, and they took advantage of the endless supply of gum they can chew on a flight. So that problem isn’t really a problem any more. As long as they don’t go on walkabout through the terminal, it’s all good. But it doesn’t mean we haven’t exchanged one problem for another. XX1 has entered the tween phase. Between the hormonally driven attitude and her general perspective that she knows everything (yeah, like every other kid), sometimes I long for the days of diapers. At least I didn’t have a kid challenging stuff I learned the hard way decades ago. And the twins have their own issues, as they deal with friend drama and the typical crap around staying focused. When I see harried parents with multiples, sometimes I walk up and tell them it gets easier. I probably shouldn’t lie to them like that. It’s not easier, it’s just different. You constantly exchange one problem for another. Soon enough XX1 will be driving and that creates all sorts of other issues. And then they’ll be off to college and the rest of their lives. So as challenging as it is sometimes, I try to enjoy the angst and keep it all in perspective. If life was easy, what fun would it be? -Mike Photo credits: “Problems are Opportunities” originally uploaded by Donna Grayson Heavy Research We’re back at work on a variety of blog series, so here is a list of the research currently underway. Remember you can get our Heavy Feed via RSS, where you can access all of our content in its unabridged glory. Vulnerability Management Evolution Scanning the Infrastructure Scanning the Application Layer Watching the Watchers (Privileged User Management) Enforce Entitlements Monitor Privileged Users Understanding and Selecting DSP Extended Features Administration Malware Analysis Quant Index of Posts Incite 4 U Geer on application security: no silent failures Honestly, it’s pointless to try to summarize anything Dan Geer says. A summary misses the point. It misses the art of his words. And you’d miss priceless quotes like “There’s no government like no government,” and regarding data loss, “if I steal your data, then you still have them, unlike when I steal your underpants.” Brilliant. Just brilliant. So read this transcript of Dan’s keynote at AppSecDC and be thankful Dan is generous enough to post his public talks. Let me leave you my main takeaway from Dan’s talk: “In a sense, our longstanding wish to be taken seriously has come; we will soon reflect on whether we really wanted that.” This is an opportunity to learn from a guy who has seen it all in security. Literally. Don’t squander it. Take the 15 minutes and read the talk. – MR AppSec trio: Fergal Glynn of Veracode has started A CISO’s Guide to Application Security, a series on Threatpost. And it’s off to a good start, packed with a lot of good information, but the ‘components’ are all blending together. Secure software development, secure operations, and a software assurance program are three different things; and while they go hand in hand if you want a thorough program, it’s easier to think about them as three legs of the proverbial stool. Make no mistake, I have implemented secure coding techniques based purely on threat modeling because we had no metrics – or even idea of what metrics were viable – to do an assurance program. I’ve worked in finance, with little or no code development, relying purely on operational controls around pre-deployment and deployment phases on COTS software. At another firm I implemented metrics and risk analysis to inspire the CEO to allow secure code development to happen. So while these things get blurred together under the “application security” umbrella, remember they’re three different sets of techniques and processes, with three slightly different – and hopefully cooperating – audiences. – AL It’s the economy, stupid: One of the weirdest things I’ve realized over years in the security industry is how much security is about economics and psychology, not about technology. No, I’m not flying off the deep end and ignoring the tech (I’m still a geek, after all), but if you want to make big changes you need to focus on things that affect the economics, not how many times a user clicks on links in email. One great example is the new database the government and cell phone providers are setting up to track stolen phones. Not only will they keep track of the stolen phones, they will make sure they can’t be

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