Reality Check for Millennials Looking at Security

Evidently security as an industry does a crappy job at generating interest within kids today. How are we going to fill the massive skills gap we face, if we can’t get students interested in security from an early age. Right? RIGHT? No. Wrong. Incorrect. False. And every other negative word I can think of to describe how bad an idea it is to try to get kids excited about security early on. Not that we don’t have a massive skills gap. We do. Not that we shouldn’t be doing more to educate kids about security. We need to do that too. But I have seen far too many young people flock to security because of the sheer number of job opportunities. They aren’t with us long. In fact they hate it. They get seduced by the siren call of good vs. bad. Of fighting attackers and outsmarting adversaries. And then they learn what security is really about. How most of the time the bad guys are long gone by the time you find out and this happened. About the joys of making firewall changes and patching systems in the middle of the night. As they advance, maybe they learn the fandango you need to dance with senior management and the auditors. Selling young people an idealized vision of security doesn’t do anyone any good. It sets a false expectation and creates disappointment. That doesn’t mean I think we can just hope young people of the right personality type and talent magically end up in security. Hope is not a strategy. We should be espousing the cool things young people can do in technology. Especially young girls – the gender gap is obvious and needs to be addressed. In order to do security effectively, you need a deep understanding of technology anyway. Let them start there. And then, if they have the competence and personality to do security, grab them. I was facilitating a roundtable of CISOs earlier this week, and one of them talked about how much success he has had with interns. We all wondered where he found them and which program produced the most capable candidates. He said he doesn’t deal with the interns initially. He gets to know them once they start their internship. He spends time with the high potential folks and tells them the real deal about security. And a portion of them are interested and he hires them when he can. It works. But glamorizing an unglamorous job will not help us. It just puts you in a position where you have to train a bunch of folks, only to have them later realize security isn’t for them. Photo credit: “I hate my job” originally uploaded by Mike Monteiro Share:

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Incite 10/16/2013: Building Strengths

Back when I managed people (and yes, it seems like a lifetime ago), I subscribed to the Gallup management concepts. Productivity is based on employee engagement, and employees are much more engaged when they are doing things they are good at. The book First, Break All the Rules was eye-opening – I have spent my entire career to date trying to make my weaknesses less weak, and not trying to improve my strengths. So I took Gallup’s original StrengthsFinder test and discovered back in 2002 that my top 5 strengths were Strategic, Input, Achiever, Command, and Focus. So my attempts to start a technology company at that point made a lot of sense. Those are the skills you’d like an early stage CEO to be strong int. But looking back at my subsequent experiences as VP Marketing for a number of companies, it is not surprising I wasn’t happy or particularly successful, given the different skills required for that position. The initial data gathering/learning phase of my VP Marketing jobs played to my ‘input’ strength. And building communications and product plans were great for my ‘strategic’ capabilities. But everything else about the job, including the day to day grind, the whac-a-mole of managing PR and lead generation programs, and the challenge of keeping high-strung sales folks happy, didn’t play to my strengths. Not at all. As I mentioned last week, recently hitting the likely halfway point of my life got me thinking. I believe I am a different person than I was back in 2002. Life and the inevitable road rash you acquire do that to you. I wondered how much my strengths had changed. So I took the new version of StrengthsFinder – and lo and behold, 3 out the 5 were different. Now my top 5 strengths are Strategic, Relator, Achiever, Activator, and Ideation. Keeping strategic and achiever weren’t surprising – I have always been like that. Nor was being an activator, which is someone who starts projects and gets things moving. Likewise ideation goes hand in hand with my strategic bent and allows me to come up with a number of different ideas for how to solve problems. All these fit well with my chosen occupation as an independent analyst. Without a firm grasp of strategy and a bunch of creative ideas, my value is limited. My activator and achiever talents make sure things get done, especially powered by a lot of coffee. But the relator talent surprised me. The description of this talent is: “People who are especially talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.” Huh. Close relationships? Really? My internal perception of myself has always been as a standoffish introvert who doesn’t really care about people. In fact, I tell stories about how I shouldn’t be working with people, which is why having partners on the other side of the country is perfect. But now that I think about it, I enjoy nothing more than rolling up my sleeves and getting to work with people I respect and like. One of the key criteria for anyone wanting to become a Securosis contributor is whether we like to drink beer with them. These folks aren’t just my colleagues – they are my friends. I can see why this makes sense (for me) now, and how it makes me better at what I do. Best of all, I have a gig which allows me to play to my strengths. It’s not like I had an evil plan to find a career that highlights my talents. I stumbled into research when I was in my early 20’s. But 20+ years later, I can appreciate my good fortune. –Mike Photo credit: “Lifting heavy weight, I am the power man. originally uploaded by snow Heavy Research We are 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 get all our content in its unabridged glory. And you can get all our research papers too. Security Awareness Training Evolution Why Bother? Defending Against Application Denial of Service Introduction Newly Published Papers Firewall Management Essentials Continuous Security Monitoring API Gateways Threat Intelligence for Ecosystem Risk Management Dealing with Database Denial of Service Identity and Access Management for Cloud Services The 2014 Endpoint Security Buyer’s Guide The CISO’s Guide to Advanced Attackers Incite 4 U The limo job: If you can’t get in through the front door, you might as well come in through the limo service. At least that’s the tactic taken by the APT to get into Kevin Mandia’s stuff. It turns out they probably used real intelligence officers to discover Kevin’s preferred limo company, broke in, then sent him a fake receipt with a malicious payload. That’s some ingenious hacking and requires some boots on the ground. Obviously a guy as well-trained as Kevin will smell something fishy when he gets a receipt for a trip he didn’t take. But you have to wonder what else are they looking at? He knew becoming the public face of exposing Chinese hacking activity would have repercussions, and now I guess we are seeing them. – MR Not all leaks sink the boat: A while ago we did some work with a client who was worried about an impending source code leak (no, you don’t know about it – it’s not that one in the news). They were trying to figure out the best way to handle it from both a PR and IR standpoint. These guys had their stuff together, and went through an intense process to protect both customers and their brand. (No, it wasn’t Symantec – they flubbed it). Adobe is living that nightmare right now, and boy did the Wall Street Journal miss the mark in their trolling for clicks. Losing source code doesn’t necessarily correlate to increased customer risk. To

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