One of the terms you’ll likely hear at RSA this year is security posture. Along with “situational awareness” and other terms which refer to your ability to understand if you are under attack and how your defenses are positioned to protect your assets. But I’m fascinated by the psychology of posturing, because we see that kind of behavior every single day.

This is the posturing I had in mind...It’s not like I go clubbing a lot (as in, at all), but you can always tell when someone who thinks they are an alpha male enters. They intentionally project a “don’t fsck with me” attitude and are likely to fly into a ‘roid rage at any time. They are posturing, and it’s likely a self-esteem issue has caused them to overcompensate by juicing up and thinking that pushing around someone around in a bar makes them cool. Either that or they have a small piece.

Maybe their Mom could have given them a few more hugs growing up. Or they should have tried that Swedish pump highlighted in Austin Powers.

I know we aren’t done with the 2010 season yet (though my teams have been eliminated, so I’m just a bemused observer at this point), but there is a lot of uncertainty regarding the 2011 season. The CBA (collective bargaining agreement) expires in early March and the owners don’t think the existing structure is good for them. Of course, at the other end of the table, the players want their fair share of the unbelievable revenues generated by the NFL. Fair is the key word here. Each has their own definition of fair.

So there is a lot of posturing on both ends. Everyone wants to be the alpha male. Each says the other side wants a lockout. Lots of disinformation is flying back and forth, all to sway the fans to support one side or the other. The spin doctors are working overtime. Sounds like a presidential election, come to think of it.

Personally, it’s hard to feel bad for either side. The owners are billionaires and the NFL is a cash machine. The players are very well compensated for playing a game. And millions of fans dutifully buy season tickets, watch games, and buy merchandise. In fact, my Matt Ryan jersey arrived yesterday. Just in time! Frackin’ snow storm. So I’ll be pissed if there is any kind of lockout. All of these 7 and 8 figure alpha males just need to get over themselves and remember it’s because of us fans that they get to do anything.

These guys forget we have alternatives. I can tell you college football will become a lot more popular if there is some kind of NFL work stoppage. SEC football is pretty OK, even if you don’t have an alma mater to go bonkers over. The NCAA should move games to Sunday if the NFL doesn’t play. Seems the owners believe that if they delay or cancel the season, all the fans will let wait breathlessly for their return.

I know this is a game of high stakes poker, but it seems there is a lot of short-term thinking here. With billions of dollars being generated, it’s unbelievable that you can’t structure a win-win situation for all involved. Gosh, am I thinking rationally here? Must be time to take the clear, or is today a cream day? A good ‘roid rage will do wonders for my outlook on the situation. And anyway, I need my full alpha male posture on come RSA time…


Photo credits: “Bad Posture” originally uploaded by bartmaguire

Vote for Me. I’ll buy you a beer.

There is still time to vote for the Social Security Blogger Awards. The Incite has been nominated in the Most Entertaining Security Blog Category. My fellow nominees are Jack Daniel’s Uncommon Sense, the Naked Sophos folks, and some Symantec bunker dwellers from the UK. All very entertaining and worthy competition.

Help out a brother with a vote.

Incite 4 U

  1. The Lazy Man’s Guide to Success: Mike Dahn has a treatise called Leverage, where he calls for a number of tactics to increase your effectiveness in the next year. Things like delegation, networking, and turning cost centers into revenue opportunities. Interesting stuff. What do all of these ideas have in common? They allow you to be lazy. If you can get someone else to do your work for you, why wouldn’t you? I’d love to delegate all the stuff I’m supposed to do. I’d like to turn my cost centers into revenue centers. I like the idea of leverage. Because I’d much rather be reading NFL news all day than actually doing work. Who wouldn’t? But I shouldn’t joke too much because Mike has a point here. Unless your goals are too low, you will need help to get there. So think about it from that perspective. – MR
  2. Someone needs a fact checker: I understand that press releases are a fact of life. While they all sound exactly the same, some of them provide a valuable nugget of information mixed in with all the masturbatory self-congratulations for signing up yet another small school district as a customer. After the obligatory FUD, that is. For example, today I received, “In the wake of increasing levels of data breaches, accidental data losses and incidents of user’s privacy being compromised, the Online Trust Alliance (OTA) is set to release its 2011 Data Breach Incident Readiness Guide in time for Data Privacy Day (Jan. 28th)”. Which is funny, as most sources like the Open Security Foundation DataLossDB and our own 2010 Data Security Survey show a relative decline in reported breaches. Maybe there are more breaches and privacy leaks, but it isn’t like they have numbers to prove it. – RM
  3. The Recognized Leader: I am the leader in a new ‘market’. I just found this out after having read the press release on Nice Systems’ new product to reduce financial risk associated with PCI-DSS. Apparently they provide live redaction of call center recordings when customers provide their credit card numbers over the phone. And in real time no less. So you don’t have to worry about ‘handling’ credit card data on phones, and having your phone systems subject to PCI audits. But that was then, and this is now. I am declaring myself the worldwide leader in this space. Here’s my product idea, which will make me a leader once I write it in the press release: I call it the ‘Delete’ button. Don’t store call records with credit card information. Perfect security! And my price point is unbeatable. If you need the ‘real time’ version of the product, I’ll provide the ‘Call Recorder Off’ product next quarter. Sure, it’s more fun to apply costly technology to solve problems that don’t exist, but we are talking world leadership here. Just like it says in the press release. – AL
  4. Time to slay the AV sacred cow? Plenty of folks have been questioning the need for traditional AV. Shimmy is just the latest. In-Q-Tel’s Peter Kuper has been parading around telling the same story for years. Is AV working? Of course not. Not entirely, but there is a complication with moving beyond AV, and that’s the C word. Right, compliance. AV is required for compliance (as Josh Corman constantly points out) and we haven’t gotten guidance from the PCI bigwigs to legitimize alternatives like white listing. Free AV works and can likely even pass a compliance audit, but if you have more than a dozen folks, how do you manage it? For a change, we are between a rock and a hard place. Until we get a clear indication that AV alternatives will suffice for compliance, don’t mess with your budget yet. A bunch of it will still go to a Big AV renewal. – MR
  5. Dashboards without wheels: The two biggest reasons I think most GRC tools are useless in most organizations are their lack of connectivity to real operations, and the lack of an actual user. Operationally, few organizations have someone who uses the pretty dashboard on a day to day basis. No, the CFO won’t open your security app after catching up on coffee and the Wall Street Journal. Especially since most security dashboards are tied either to some sort of self-reporting engine, or nebulous metrics abstracted far away from the guts of operations. Russell has a great post on what makes a good dashboard over at the New School blog. If you buy or sell anything with a dashboard, you need to take a look. – RM
  6. Feel Good?: “How do I feel? I feel good. I feel confident. I like what I see. I feel confident with my data security strategy. I am satisfied with my technology choices. I feel that we have made the right decisions. I have a good feeling we are protected from upcoming threats and have anticipated market changes.” Yeah. That sort of statement makes me queasy. I get an uneasy feeling when I read data security surveys that focus on the attitudes and feelings of those surveyed. When did we start judging the quality of security based on popularity contests or squishy self-esteem assessments? Actually, the answer to that rhetorical question is ‘always’, because we have few ways to measure security or the value of a security investment. Sure, really knowledgable security pros could give you genuine feedback on the protection provided by certain tools. But most people have no clue how good their security is, nor how it will break next week. Others who use MBO, as Chris Hoff pointed out a couple weeks ago), feel great – because they are going to earn their bonus. Insecure, but they’ve already spent the money! What I would like to see is a survey that asks people how they feel and what type of investments they have made – right before they have a security audit. Matching the results against the expectations would be far more informative and entertaining. – AL