As we say goodbye to Old Man 2012 and get ready to welcome Baby New Year 2013, it is time for some downtime and reflection. This will be the last Incite of the year. My focus over the next two weeks will be enjoying the accomplishments of the past 12 months. Which, by the way, is very hard for me. I came into the world with the unsatisfied gene. No matter how good it is, it can be better. No matter how much got done, I could have done more. With every accomplishment, I have already started looking towards the next goal because there are always more things to do, different windmills to tilt at, and another mountain to climb.

Where's Kool and the Gang when you need them…But not this year. I will make a concerted effort to acknowledge where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. Both personally and professionally. And it will be a long time coming. The Boss and I were talking last night and she mentioned that we need to enjoy things a bit more. To have more fun. We have a great lifestyle and comforts I couldn’t have imagined, growing up in a much more modest situation, but it always seems we’re running from one place to the next. Fighting yet another fire, working on the next project, or filling up our social calendar. She is exactly right.

I also need to celebrate life. We keep being reminded how fleeting it is. I will take some time to appreciate my good health and the health of my family. I will enjoy the quality time I get to spend with the people I care about. And I’ll be thankful for every day I get. At some point in the future, I will get an invitation to stop playing this game called life. Until then I plan to make the most of it.

When I say ‘celebrate’, don’t expect a big blowout bash or any other ostentatious showing of prosperity. I like to celebrate in a low-key fashion. I’m not into material things, so I don’t celebrate a good year by buying things I don’t need. I’m also painfully aware that it’s still tough out there. Good fortune has overlooked many folks who have more talent and work harder than I do. These folks continue to struggle as the global economy continues its slow arduous recovery. More to the point, I know success is fleeting, and I have personally been down a lot more than I have been up. I’ll smile a bit thinking back on the last year, but I am all too aware there is more work to be done, and on January 1 the meter resets to 0. See? There I go again, moving forward even when I’m trying to stay in one place.

We have wrapped up our 2013 planning at Securosis, and we have a good plan. As good as 2012 has been, it can get better. We will launch the Nexus, we will continue investing in our cloud security curriculum, and we will continue researching, using our unique Totally Transparent Research model. And there will also be a surprise or two out of us next year. It will all be a lot of work and I look forward to it. If it was easy everyone would be doing it.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t thank all of you for reading our stuff, adding comments to our posts, telling us when we’re wrong, and tipping one (or ten) back when we see each other in person. Every company is built on relationships, and we at Securosis are very very fortunate to have great relationships with great folks at all levels and functions within the security ecosystem. I wake up some days and pinch myself that I get to pontificate all day, every day. Yup, that calls for a celebration. It must be beer o’clock somewhere.

From all of us at Securosis, have a great holiday, be safe, and we’ll see you in 2013.


Photo credits: Celebrate You – Celebrate Life! originally uploaded by Keith Davenport

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.

Building an Early Warning System

Understanding and Selecting an Enterprise Key Manager

Newly Published Papers

Incite 4 U

  1. Title fail: I got pretty excited – any article called “Information Security as a Business Enabler” is bound to give me fodder to lampoon for hours. I mean, a business enabler? C’mon, man! Normally security is a business disabler. I remember trying to position digital certificates as an enabler of new business processes back in the day, and getting laughed out of the customer’s office. So you can imagine how disappointed I was to see the article is really about doing an impact analysis and post-mortem after a breach. I mean, the article is solid and makes points we have been talking about for years. But how this has anything to do with business enablement is beyond me. So some editor is either trolling for views or didn’t read the article. Either way it’s title FAIL. – MR
  2. HP contracts small guy syndrome: In last week’s Incite, both Mike and I commented on Gartner’s criticism of Amazon’s and HP’s service level agreements (SLAs) for their respective clouds. Lo and behold, HP responded with an amusing blog post this week. Remember that the only real cloud security controls you have are those guarantee in the contract, so it’s amusing that HP first felt the need to ‘educate’ us all on what an SLA really is. Dear HP, it’s nice that you claim to exceed your SLA, but there aren’t many businesses in the world that with good histories of going above and beyond their contracts. And we appreciate all the efforts you go through to make OpenStack enterprise-class, but that really isn’t the point. Get over it – there is nothing wrong with having crappy SLAs. It certainly hasn’t slowed down Amazon, and it makes you more agile. If the SLA matters to someone, your blog post won’t change their mind anyway. Especially since you made the mistake of reminding them about TippingPoint. D’oh! – RM
  3. Secrets: I love Wired’s Tech stories, and their recent Cracked a 250-Year-Old Code, and Found a Secret Society Inside is no exception. Most notably the English translation of one sentence, which states “The history of the origin of the Oculist society. Curiosity is the inheritance of mankind. Frequently we want to know something only because it needs to be kept secret.” The approach of these linguists is very much like the way a hacker dissects a communication protocol: looking for both patterns and oddities to provide clues to what information is being exchanged. And the concepts of “secret societies” formed when ideas differ from those of authority, and the need for personal privacy, are all common modern-day threads. The technology may have changed but people – and the issues they face – appear to be the same centuries later. The more things change the more they stay the same. – AL
  4. Blocking and tackling: I only have a few more weeks to make football analogies so I will. Dave Kennedy of TrustedSec is evidently a fan of Top 5 lists. He lists the top 5 attack vectors, but more importantly the Top 5 controls folks should be using to protect themselves. It’s pretty basic stuff and aligns with our Pragmatic philosophies, especially in the areas of awareness (Protecting the Employee) and Monitoring. He also makes #5 protecting what’s important, but I think that’s #1 – especially figuring out what’s important in the first place. – MR
  5. Value-Reduce: It used to be that with relational databases Garbage In meant Garbage Out (GIGO). Worse, as data ‘ages’ it becomes obsolete, limiting the utility of data analysis. One of the interesting side effects of big data, given the ‘velocity’ of events, is that bad or incorrect data is offset by similar new entries. Bad entires quickly become statistical anomalies – at least in the limited number of clusters I have seen. Wendy Nather raises a great point in You Are The Big Data: the new issue is performing the right analysis. Metrics are great but if you ask the wrong questions your answers may not mean what you think. Regardless of data quality, wrong analysis provides the wrong results. – AL
  6. That vulnerability probably doesn’t matter: So this story hit the press that an attacker can potentially track your mouse movements using Internet Explorer. Dan Kaminsky does a nice job of showing why it doesn’t matter, but the best part of the post is his ‘framework’ for evaluating new vulnerabilities and exploits. This is nearly the same approach I take, although I have ever written it down, so I’ll quote Dan, “What can an attacker do today, that he couldn’t do yesterday, for what class attacker, to what class victim?” Learn those words if you ever plan on reading the security press. Personally, the questions I always ask myself are, “Does this affect me? Do I care? What can they do? If I care, how can I stop it?” – RM
  7. It’s not brain surgery, or is it? Folks who want to stay anonymous on the Internet need to take great pains and onerous precautions to do so. With the trail of bits we all leave it is getting increasingly hard to remain invisible for any length of time. You can’t afford to screw anything up, ever. So it’s interesting to see how Aaron Barr, the infamous head of HBGary Federal, actually had pegged one of the leaders of Anonymous thanks to the totally amateur-night error of registering a domain using a real name. Alas, Barr believed the guy’s protestations and pegged some other poor sap. And obviously the story didn’t end very well for Barr either but it’s an interesting story. – MR