Incite 7/18/2012: 21 Days

21 days. It doesn’t seem like a long time. In the day to day grind of my routine, 3 weeks is nothing. I basically blink and that much time passes. But when your kids are away at camp it is a long time. For us day 21 is a lifesaver because it’s the first visiting day. So last weekend we packed up the car and made the trek to Pennsylvania to see the kids. For 21 days, we were in parental purgatory. We wait and we worry and we look at pictures and we make up all sorts of stories about what the kids are doing, based on thos pictures and a couple 2-sentence letters. That’s what parents do. So after 21 days, we finally get to compare reality to our made-up vision of what they are doing. Just to give you a little flavor for the kinds of letters we receive, XX2 wrote this missive to her Grandma (slightly edited for readability, but not much): Grandma, Please send make-up. I need lipstick and eyeshadow and hairspray. I’ve had to borrow from the other girls. I’m helpless without makeup. Love, XX2 Helpless?!? What a character. Though we had a decision to make – to send the make-up or not. Of course we sent her make-up. Actually, the Boss was very surprised because at home I’m very anti-makeup. My kids are beautiful without needing to look like street walkers. But they are at camp to find themselves. To do the things they want to do, without their parents micromanaging every move. Even if it involves wearing make-up – so be it. The good news is the kids are doing great. Really great. Even the Boy, who is away for the first time. His counselors said he was quiet for the first two weeks, while he figured out which end was up. But now that he’s comfortable with everyone, he’s pretty talkative. The girls are camp pros by now, and they are having the time of their lives. XX2 got a big part in the play, and XX1 has made the Boss very happy by being in the middle of every picture she’s in and flashing a huge smile. In another 21 days, we’ll return to camp for the second visiting day and to pick up the girls. Then we’ll do the long drive back to GA and get back into the routine of school and activities. For us, the next 21 days will be agonizingly slow. For them, they will pass in the blink of an eye. And they’ll enjoy every second of it. –Mike Photo credits: Welcome to Camp originally uploaded by Altus Wilder Incite 4 U Security vs. Convenience: This post on scaling by one of the Dropbox ops guys was very interesting. Counter-intuitively adding “fake” load prematurely only to remove the extra load when you run out of capacity is an interesting tactic to buy some time. Also the ideas of actually testing the edge cases and logging all sorts of stuff (even if you don’t know how you’ll use the data) will help to put our scaling efforts in perspective when we have Nexus scaling problems, that is. But it’s the last paragraph that is pretty problematic (and explains how privacy issues and obfuscation happen). He says that “security is really important for Dropbox,” but then goes into a riff on making trade-offs based on how important security is to the service. Let’s be clear, security isn’t important to any emerging service until they screw something up. Then security is very important. Which is why trying to build a security program in an organization that’s never had a security problem can be the Impossible Dream (h/t to Don Quixote). – MR Cry havoc and let slip the honeypots of war:: Playing defense all the time is a real pain in the behind. No one enjoys just sitting there until some dumb ass wielding Metasploit comes by and owns you. At the same time, never underestimate the marketing power of the latest security meme. One of these hot topics is the concept of active defense, which can technically mean a whole host of things as described by Chris Hoff in his latest post (that also references one of my posts). As this conversation picks up I think it’s important to remember that these principles, and even sometimes technologies, have been around for a while. The problem has often been they lack the automation to make them truly useful. Too complex, too manual. That’s starting to change, and I think most organizations will adopt active defenses fairly soon. As for Chris’ OODA loop reference… well let’s just say I have more to write on that. – RM Browser Security is more than sandboxing: Reading the Which Browser is Safest on nakedsecurity I was non-plussed as there are several important ways to judge browser security not even discussed in the post. Sandboxing is certainly one element, but there is no discussion of XSS or CSRF. And there are the reputation based protections, to detect things like malware and bad certificates. Perhaps more importantly, there is still no real equivalent to NoScript on Chrome or IE, which is the last reason I continue to cling to Firefox while most people I know have long since moved to Chrome. Then there is the rest of the privacy side of the equation. Ironic that someone on nakedsecurity is discussing browser security when their site source cross-links to eight or so other sites and feeds your browser with another 8 ghost cookies. As bad as Firefox is, at least my add-ons allow me to block most of the data I don’t want sites having on me and my browser. – AL The challenge of asymmetry: Greg Ferro summarize the issues of doing security pretty effectively in Basics:Threat Asymmetry and Security Posture. Yes, it’s a pretty simple concept, but when you spend all day in your reversing tool or knee deep in PCAP files, sometimes

Read Post

Totally Transparent Research is the embodiment of how we work at Securosis. It’s our core operating philosophy, our research policy, and a specific process. We initially developed it to help maintain objectivity while producing licensed research, but its benefits extend to all aspects of our business.

Going beyond Open Source Research, and a far cry from the traditional syndicated research model, we think it’s the best way to produce independent, objective, quality research.

Here’s how it works:

  • Content is developed ‘live’ on the blog. Primary research is generally released in pieces, as a series of posts, so we can digest and integrate feedback, making the end results much stronger than traditional “ivory tower” research.
  • Comments are enabled for posts. All comments are kept except for spam, personal insults of a clearly inflammatory nature, and completely off-topic content that distracts from the discussion. We welcome comments critical of the work, even if somewhat insulting to the authors. Really.
  • Anyone can comment, and no registration is required. Vendors or consultants with a relevant product or offering must properly identify themselves. While their comments won’t be deleted, the writer/moderator will “call out”, identify, and possibly ridicule vendors who fail to do so.
  • Vendors considering licensing the content are welcome to provide feedback, but it must be posted in the comments - just like everyone else. There is no back channel influence on the research findings or posts.
    Analysts must reply to comments and defend the research position, or agree to modify the content.
  • At the end of the post series, the analyst compiles the posts into a paper, presentation, or other delivery vehicle. Public comments/input factors into the research, where appropriate.
  • If the research is distributed as a paper, significant commenters/contributors are acknowledged in the opening of the report. If they did not post their real names, handles used for comments are listed. Commenters do not retain any rights to the report, but their contributions will be recognized.
  • All primary research will be released under a Creative Commons license. The current license is Non-Commercial, Attribution. The analyst, at their discretion, may add a Derivative Works or Share Alike condition.
  • Securosis primary research does not discuss specific vendors or specific products/offerings, unless used to provide context, contrast or to make a point (which is very very rare).
    Although quotes from published primary research (and published primary research only) may be used in press releases, said quotes may never mention a specific vendor, even if the vendor is mentioned in the source report. Securosis must approve any quote to appear in any vendor marketing collateral.
  • Final primary research will be posted on the blog with open comments.
  • Research will be updated periodically to reflect market realities, based on the discretion of the primary analyst. Updated research will be dated and given a version number.
    For research that cannot be developed using this model, such as complex principles or models that are unsuited for a series of blog posts, the content will be chunked up and posted at or before release of the paper to solicit public feedback, and provide an open venue for comments and criticisms.
  • In rare cases Securosis may write papers outside of the primary research agenda, but only if the end result can be non-biased and valuable to the user community to supplement industry-wide efforts or advances. A “Radically Transparent Research” process will be followed in developing these papers, where absolutely all materials are public at all stages of development, including communications (email, call notes).
    Only the free primary research released on our site can be licensed. We will not accept licensing fees on research we charge users to access.
  • All licensed research will be clearly labeled with the licensees. No licensed research will be released without indicating the sources of licensing fees. Again, there will be no back channel influence. We’re open and transparent about our revenue sources.

In essence, we develop all of our research out in the open, and not only seek public comments, but keep those comments indefinitely as a record of the research creation process. If you believe we are biased or not doing our homework, you can call us out on it and it will be there in the record. Our philosophy involves cracking open the research process, and using our readers to eliminate bias and enhance the quality of the work.

On the back end, here’s how we handle this approach with licensees:

  • Licensees may propose paper topics. The topic may be accepted if it is consistent with the Securosis research agenda and goals, but only if it can be covered without bias and will be valuable to the end user community.
  • Analysts produce research according to their own research agendas, and may offer licensing under the same objectivity requirements.
  • The potential licensee will be provided an outline of our research positions and the potential research product so they can determine if it is likely to meet their objectives.
  • Once the licensee agrees, development of the primary research content begins, following the Totally Transparent Research process as outlined above. At this point, there is no money exchanged.
  • Upon completion of the paper, the licensee will receive a release candidate to determine whether the final result still meets their needs.
  • If the content does not meet their needs, the licensee is not required to pay, and the research will be released without licensing or with alternate licensees.
  • Licensees may host and reuse the content for the length of the license (typically one year). This includes placing the content behind a registration process, posting on white paper networks, or translation into other languages. The research will always be hosted at Securosis for free without registration.

Here is the language we currently place in our research project agreements:

Content will be created independently of LICENSEE with no obligations for payment. Once content is complete, LICENSEE will have a 3 day review period to determine if the content meets corporate objectives. If the content is unsuitable, LICENSEE will not be obligated for any payment and Securosis is free to distribute the whitepaper without branding or with alternate licensees, and will not complete any associated webcasts for the declining LICENSEE. Content licensing, webcasts and payment are contingent on the content being acceptable to LICENSEE. This maintains objectivity while limiting the risk to LICENSEE. Securosis maintains all rights to the content and to include Securosis branding in addition to any licensee branding.

Even this process itself is open to criticism. If you have questions or comments, you can email us or comment on the blog.