Perception of time is a funny thing. As we wind down the school year in Atlanta, it’s hard to believe how quickly this year has flown by. It seems like yesterday XX1 was starting high school and the twins were starting middle school. I was talking to XX1 last week as she was driving herself to school (yes, that’s a surreal statement) and she mentioned that she couldn’t believe the school year was over. I tried to explain that as you get older, time seems to move more quickly.

The following day I was getting a haircut with the Boy and our stylist was making conversation. She asked him if the school year seemed to fly by. He said, “Nope! It was sooooo slow.” They are only 3 years apart, but clearly the perception of time changes as tweens become teens.

The end of the school year always means dance recitals. For over 10 years now I’ve been going to recitals to watch my girls perform. From when they were little munchies in their tiny tutus watching the teacher on the side of the stage pantomiming the routine, to now when they both are advanced dancers doing 7-8 routines each year, of all disciplines. Ballet (including pointe), Jazz, Modern, Tap, Lyrical. You name it and my girls do it.

A lot of folks complain about having to go to recitals. I went to all 3 this year. There is no place I’d rather be. Watching my girls dance is one of the great joys of my life. Seeing them grow from barely being able to do a pirouette to full-fledged dancers has been incredible. I get choked up seeing how they get immersed in performance, and how happy it makes them to be on stage.

Although this year represents a bit of a turning point. XX2 decided to stop dancing and focus on competitive cheerleading. There were lots of reasons, but it mostly came down to passion. She was serious about improving her cheerleading skills, constantly stretching and working on core strength to improve her performance. She was ecstatic when she made the 7th grade competitive cheer team at her school. But when it came time for dance she said, “meh.” So the choice was clear, although I got a little nostalgic watching her last dance recital. It’s been a good run and I look forward to seeing her compete in cheer.

I’m the first to embrace change and chase passions. When something isn’t working, you make changes, knowing full well that it requires courage – lots of people resist change. Her dance company gave her a bit of a hard time and the teachers weren’t very kind during her last few months at the studio. But it’s OK – people show themselves at some point, and we learned a lot about those people. Some are keepers, and XX2 will likely maintain those relationships as others fade away.

It’s just like life. You realize who your real friends are when you make changes. Savor those friendships and let all the others go. We have precious few moments – don’t waste them on people who don’t matter.


Photo credit: “Korean Modern Dance” from Republic of Korea

Security is changing. So is Securosis. Check out Rich’s post on how we are evolving our business.

We’ve published this year’s Securosis Guide to the RSA Conference. It’s our take on the key themes of this year’s conference (which is really a proxy for the industry), as well as deep dives on cloud security, threat protection, and data security. And there is a ton of meme goodness… Check out the blog post or download the guide directly (PDF).

The fine folks at the RSA Conference posted the talk Jennifer Minella and I did on mindfulness at the 2014 conference. You can check it out on YouTube. Take an hour. Your emails, alerts, and Twitter timeline will be there when you get back.

Securosis Firestarter

Have you checked out our video podcast? Rich, Adrian, and Mike get into a Google Hangout and… hang out. We talk a bit about security as well. We try to keep these to 15 minutes or less, and usually fail.

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, with our content in all its unabridged glory. And you can get all our research papers too.

Incident Response in the Cloud Age

Understanding and Selecting RASP

Maximizing WAF Value

Resilient Cloud Network Architectures

Shadow Devices

Building a Vendor IT Risk Management Program

Recently Published Papers

Incite 4 U

  1. The Weakest Link: Huge financial institutions spend a ton of money on security. They buy and try one of everything, and have thousands of security professionals to protect their critical information. And they still get hacked, but it’s a major effort for their adversaries. The attackers just don’t want to work that hard, so mostly they don’t. They find the weakest link, and it turns out that to steal huge sums from banks, you check banks without sophisticated security controls, but with access to the SWIFT fund transfer network. So if you were curious whether Bank of Bangladesh has strong security, now you know. They don’t. That bank was the entry point for an $81 million fraud involving SWIFT and the Federal Reserve Bank of NY. Everything looked legit, so the big shops thought they were making a proper fund transfer. And then the money was gone. Poof. With such interconnected systems running the global financial networks, this kind of thing is bound to happen. Probably a lot. – MR
  2. Racist in the machine: It shouldn’t be funny, but it is: Microsoft turned loose Tay Chatbot – a machine learning version of Microsoft Bob on the Internet. Within hours it became a plausible, creative racist ass***. Creative in that it learned, mostly pulling from cached Google articles, to evolve its own racism. Yes, all those Internet comment trolls taught the bot to spew irrational hatred, so well that it could pass for a Philadelphia sports fan (kidding). Some friends have pointed out other examples of chatbots on message boards claiming to be $DIETY as their learning engines did exactly what they were programmed to do. Some call it a reflection on society, as Tay learned people’s real behaviors, but it’s more likely its learning mode was skewed toward the wrong sources, with no ethics or logical validation. This is a good example of how easily things can go wrong in automated security event detection, heuristics, lexical analysis, metadata analysis, and machine learning. People can steer learning engines the wrong way, so don’t allow unfiltered user input, just like with any other application platform. – AL
  3. Double edged sword: The thing about technology is that almost every innovation can be used for good. Or bad. Take, for instance, PowerShell, the powerful Microsoft scripting language. As security becomes more software-defined by the day, scripting tools like PowerShell (and Python) are going to be the way much of security gets implemented in continuous deployment pipelines. But as the CarbonBlack folks discuss in this NetworkWorld article, they are also powerful tools for automating a bunch of malware functions. So you need to get back to the basics of security: defining normal behavior and then looking for anomalies, because the tools can be used for good and not-so-good. – MR
  4. Mastering the irrelevant: Visa stated some merchants see a dip in fraud due to chipped cards with 5 of the top 25 victims of forged cards seeing an 18.3% reduction in counterfeit transactions while non-compliant merchants saw an 11% increase. And they say over 70% of credit cards in US circulation now have chips, up from 20% at the October 2015 deadline. That’s great, but Visa is tap dancing around the real issue: why there is a measly 20% adoption rate among the top candidates for EMV fraud reduction. We understand that the majority of the 25 merchants referenced above have EMV terminals in place, but continue to point fingers at Visa and Mastercard’s failure to certify as the reason EMV is not fully deployed. Think about it this way: EMV does not stop a card cloner from using a non-chipped clone, because US terminals accept both card types. This is clearly not about security or fraud detection, but instead a self-promotional pat on the back to quiet their critics. If you’re impacted by EMV, you do want to migrate to enable mobile payments, which legitimately offer better customer affinity and security, and possibly lower fees. The rest is just noise. – AL
  5. More Weakest Link: Speaking of weak links, it turns out call centers are rife with fraud today. At least according to a research report from Pindrop, who really really wants phone fraud to increase. The tactics in this weak link are different than the Bangladesh attack above: call centers are being gamed using social engineering. But in both cases big money is at stake. One of their conclusions is that it’s getting hard for fraudsters to clone credit cards (with Chip and PIN), so they are looking for a weaker link. They found the folks in these call centers. And the beat goes on. – MR