I am sitting here staring at power supplies and empty cases. Cleaning out the garage and closets, looking at the remnants from my PC building days. I used to love going out to select new motherboard and chipset combinations, hand-selecting each component to build just the right database server or video game machine. Over the years one sad acknowledgement needed to be made: after a year or so, the only pieces worth a nickel were the power supply and the case. Sad, but you spend $1,500.00 and after a few months the freaking box that housed the parts was the only remaining item of value.
I was thinking about this during some of our recent meetings with clients and would-be clients. Rich, Mike, and I are periodically approached by investors to review portfolio companies. We look both at their technology and market opportunities, and determine whether we feel the product is hitting the mark, and reaching buyers with the right product and message. We are engaged in response to either mis-aligned vision between investors and company operators (shocker, I know), or more commonly to give the investors some understanding of whether the company is worth salvaging through additional investment and a change of focus. Sometimes the company has followed market trends to preserve value, but quite a few turn out to be just a box of old parts. If this is not a direct consequence of Moore’s law, it should be.
We see cases where technologies were obsolete before the hit they market. In a handful of instances, we do find one or two worth salvaging, but not for the reasons they thought. In those cases the engineering staff was smart enough, or lucky enough, to build a deployment model or architecture that is currently relevant. The core technology? Forget it. Pitch it in the dust bin and take the write-off because that $20M investment is spent. But the ‘box’ was valuable enough to salvage, invest in, or sell. It’s ironic, and it goes to show how tough technology start-ups are to get right, and that luck is often better than planning.
On to the Summary:
Webcasts, Podcasts, Outside Writing, and Conferences
- Living with Windows: security. Rich wrote this up for Macworld.
- Rich’s Putting the Fun in Dysfunctional presentation at RSA.
- Adrian’s PCI Database Security Primer, part 1, at Dark Reading.
Favorite Securosis Posts
- Mike Rothman: FireStarter: No User Left Behind. User education is critical, but it needs to be done right, with the right incentives.
- David Mortman: ESF: Building the Endpoint Security Program.
- Rich: Anti-Malware Effectiveness: The Truth Is out There. Lies, damn lies, and testing.
- Adrian Lane: ESF: Full Disk Encryption.
Other Securosis Posts
- ESF: Endpoint Compliance Reporting.
- Incite 4/14/2010: Just Think.
- ESF: Controls: Firewalls, HIPS, and Device Control.
- FireStarter: No User Left Behind.
- ESF: Controls: Anti-Malware.
- Friday Summary: April 9, 2010.
- Database Security Fundamentals: Auditing Transactions.
Favorite Outside Posts
- Mike Rothman: if security wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. Lonervamp nails this one. Tools are great, but it’s people who have to implement the programs.
- David Mortman: For Thirty Pieces of Silver My Product Can Beat Your Product. Lori MacVittie brings the Rothman-esque smackdown!
- Pepper: apache.org server cracked: some passwords sniffed; others brute-forced. Time to change some passwords….
- Rich: The Spider That Ate My Site. Okay, I hate to admit this but I did something similar to our back end management interface. When admin buttons like “delete” are merely links, a simple spider can cause some serious damage.
- Adrian Lane: Thinking About The Apache.org Attacks. Actually raises more questions that it answers. What does it say about security when software as prevalent as Apache has a flaw? SHA 256 has been around forever. And I get that the fewer attacks means less exposure of inherent flaws, but complexity of software plays a similar role in masking flaws.
Project Quant Posts
Top News and Posts
- The Spy in the Middle. SSL Certificate Authority trust is a hot topic lately – scary because browsers inherently trust so many CAs, and we know some of them are untrustworthy.
- US government finally admits most piracy estimates are bogus. Not that it will stop them. Personally, I welcome our RIAA and MPAA thought police overlords.
- Google to Reveal Research into Fake AV Operations.
- Hackers exploit new Java zero-day bug.
- Apple Patches Pwn2Own Flaw That Hacked Safari.
- Rsnake on the significance of CSRF.
- If you don’t know who Immunet is and what they do, now’s a good time to read Brain Krebs’ interview with Adam O’Donnell and Adam Huger.
- Oracle’s April CPU advisory. Nothing cataclysmic.
- Microsoft on the other hand announced a couple critical patches, and the Authenticode bypass hack looks serious.
Blog Comment of the Week
Nice opening post, especially with the kicker at the end that you’re actually writing it on a plane! 🙂 I definitely find myself purposely unplugging at times (even if I’m still playing with something electronic) and protecting my private time when reasonable. I wonder if this ultimately has to do with the typically American concept of super-efficiency…milking every waking moment with something productive…at the expense of the great, relaxing, leisure things in life. I could listen to a podcast during this normally quiet hour in my day! And so on…
@Porky Risk…Pig: It doesn’t help that every security professional shotguns everyone else’s measurements…and with good reason! At some point, I think we’ll have to accept that every company CEO is different, and it takes a person to distill the necessary information down for her consumption. No tool will ever be enough, just like no tool ever determines if a product will be successful.
@My dad can beat up your dad: Ugh…I have some pretty strong opinions about cyberbullying and home internet monitoring…but I tend to shut up a bit because I don’t have kids and I’ll likely rub parents wrong (not that my humor isn’t dark enough to do that anyway!). While social networking didn’t exist when I was in school, I certainly have to give a lot of caution to taking away a child’s privacy. Protection is one thing, but being overly controlling and in their business is often a recipe for a lifetime of resentment…especially in their most carefree years of life where they have hours upon hours of free time without the burden of responsibilities or death anywhere on the horizon. I think it is simply most important to keep honest communication open (both ways) and make sure actions are taken when something awry happens. If someone isn’t your friend, why are you “friends” on Facebook with them? Masochistic? Sinister plans?
With rare, very saddening exceptions, a vast majority of kids will survive despite the rigors of childhood and school and self-discovery outside protective umbrellas. (I do make one exception. If there is monitoring and intrusion of privacy, they should never find out and you should never make them suspect it. It should be a silent angel watching over. But once you flaunt it or they find out, that is when the resentment and deeper hiding will happen…imo. Again, this is from a one-sided perspective and does not apply to all personalities. 🙂 )