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Friday Summary: January 29, 2010

By Adrian Lane

I really enjoy making fun of marketing and sales pitches. It’s a hobby. At my previous employer, I kept a book of stupid and nonsense sales sayings I heard sales people make – kind of my I Ching by sociopaths. I would even parrot back nonsense slogans and jargon at opportune moments. Things like “No excuses,” “Now step up to the plate and meet your commitments,” “Hold yourself accountable,” “The customer is first, don’t forget that,” “We must find ways to support these efforts,” “The hard work is done, now you need to complete a discrete task,” “All of your answers are YES YES YES!” and “Allow us to position for success!” Usually these were thrown out in a desperate attempt to get the engineering team to spend $200k to close a $40k deal.

Mainstream media marketing uses a similar ham-fisted belligerence in their messaging – trying to tie all your hopes, dreams, and desires to their product. My wife and I used to sit in front of the TV and call out all the overt and subliminal messages in commercials, like how buying a certain waffle iron would get you laid, or a vacuum cleaner that created marital bliss and made you the envy of your neighbors. Some of the pharmaceutical ads are the best, as you can turn off the sound altogether and just gaze at the the imagery and try to guess whether they are selling Viagra, allergy medicine, or eternal happiness. But playing classic music and, in a re-assuring voice, having a cute cartoon figure tell people just how smart they are, is surprisingly effective at getting them to pay an extra $.25 per gallon for gasoline.

But I must admit I occasionally find myself swayed by marketing when I thought I was more or less impervious. Worse, when it happens, I can’t even figure out what triggered the reaction. This week was one of those rare occasions. Why the heck is it that I need an iPad? More to the point, what void is this device filling and why do I think it will make my life better? And that stupid little video was kind of condescending and childish … but I still watched it. And I still want one. Was it the design? The size? Maybe it’s because I know my newspaper is dead and I want some new & better way to get information electronically at the breakfast table? Maybe I want to take a browser with me when I travel, and not a phone trying to pretend to display web pages? Maybe it’s because this is a much more appropriate design for a laptop? I don’t know, and I don’t care. This think looks cool and useful in a way that the Kindle just cannot compare to. I want to rip Apple for calling this thing ‘magical’ and ‘revolutionary’, but dammit, I want one.

On to the Summary:

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Blog Comment of the Week

Remember, for every comment selected, Securosis makes a $25 donation to Hackers for Charity. Yeah, I am awarding myself a consolation prize for my comment in response to Mike’s post on Security Management, but I have to award this week’s best comment to Andre Gironda, in response to Matt Mike’s post on The Certification Myth.

I usually throw up some strange straw-man and other kinds of confusing arguments like in my first post. But for this one, I’ll get right to the point:

Does anyone know if China{|UK|AU|NZ|Russia|Taiwan|France} has a military directive similar to Department of Defense Directive 8570, thus requiring CISSP and/or GIAC certifications in various information assurance roles?

Does anyone disagree that China has information superiority compared to the US, and potentially due in part to the existence of DoDD 8570? If China only hires the best (and not just the brown-nosers), then this would stand to achieve them a significant advantage, right?

Could it be that instead of (ISC)2 legitimizing the CSO/CISO role in popular organizations… that it could instead have been an ENTIRELY different organization or set of organizations????

For example: The Russian Business Network (RBN). Or other online criminals of all types. Romanians, St. Kittians, adversaries hiding under the guise of legitimate organizations in Costa Rica, Belize, et al.

Or perhaps (in the case of most/all of the payment industry breaches), double-agents posing as Secret Service{|FBI|State-LE|etc} informants?

My only question is–who’s more criminal–industry “leaders” who take money out of the pockets of up-and-coming wanna-be’s and strained organizations–or the more straightforward and well-known organized crime rings?

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