Aside from our mutual admiration society with Adam and the New School folks, clearly we as an industry have suffered because we don’t share data, or war stories, or shared experience, or much of everything. Hubris has killed security innovation. We, as an industry, cannot improve because we don’t learn from each other.

Why? It’s mostly fear of admitting failure. The New School guys are the key evangelists for more effective data sharing, and it’s frustrating because their messages fall on mostly deaf ears. But that is changing. Slowly – maybe even glacially – but there are some positive signs of change.

Ed Bellis points out, on the Risk I/O blog, that some financial institutions are increasingly collaborating to share data and isolate attack patterns, so everyone can get smarter. That would be great, eh?

Then I see this interview with RSA’s Art Coviello, where he mentions how much interest customers have shown in engaging at a strategic level, to learn how they responded to their breach.

Wait, what? An organization actually willing to show their battle scars? Yup, when it can’t be hidden that an organization has been victimized, the hubris is gone. Ask Heartland about that. When an organization has been publicly compromised they can’t hide the dirty laundry. To their credit, these companies actually talk about what happened. What worked and what didn’t. They made lemonade out of lemons.

Sure, the cynic in me says these companies are sharing because it gives them an opportunity to talk about how their new products and initiatives, based at partially on what they learned from being breached, can help their customers. But is that all bad?

Of course we can’t get too excited. You still need to be part of the ‘club’ to share the information. You need to be a big financial to participate in the initiative Ed linked to. You need to be an RSA enterprise customer to hear the real details of their breach and response. And it’ll still be a cold day in hell when these folks provide quantitative data to the public.

Let’s appreciate the baby steps. We need to walk before we can run. The fact that there is even a bit of lemonade coming from a breach is a positive thing. The acknowledgement by Big Financials that they need to share information about security is, as well.

We still believe that security benchmarking remains the best means for organizations to leverage shared quantitative data. It’s going to take years for the logic of this approach to gain broader acceptance, but I’m pretty optimistic we’ll get there.