It was a great Incite. I wrote it on the flight to Europe for the second leg of my summer vacation. I said magical stuff. Such depth and perspective, I even amazed myself. When I got to the hotel in Florence and went to post the Incite on the blog, it was gone. That’s right: G. O. N. E.

And it’s not going to return. I was sore for a second. But I looked at Mira (she’s the new love I mentioned in a recent Incite) and smiled. I walked outside our hotel and saw the masses gathered to check out the awe-inspiring Duomo. It was hard to be upset, surrounded by such beauty.

It took 3 days to get our luggage after Delta screwed up a rebooking because our flight across the pond was delayed, which made us upset. But losing an Incite? Meh. I was on vacation, so worrying about work just wasn’t on the itinerary.

Over the years, I usually took some time off during the summer when the kids were at camp. A couple days here and there. But I would work a little each day. Convincing myself I needed to stay current, or I didn’t want things to pile up and be buried upon my return. It was nonsense. I was scared to miss something. Maybe I’d miss out on a project or a speaking gig.

It turns out I can unplug, and no one dies. I know that because I’m on my way back after an incredible week in Florence and Tuscany, and then a short stopover in Amsterdam to check out the city before re-entering life. I didn’t really miss anything. Though I didn’t really totally unplug either. I checked email. I even responded to a few. But only things that were very critical and took less than 5 minutes.

Even better, my summer vacation isn’t over. It started with a trip to the Jersey shore with the kids. We visited Dad and celebrated Father’s Day with him. That was a great trip, especially since Mira was able to join us for the weekend. Then it was off to Europe. And the final leg will be another family trip for the July 4th holiday. All told, I will be away from the day-to-day grind close to 3 weeks.

I highly recommend a longer break to regain sanity. I understand that’s not really feasible for a lot of people. Fortunately getting space to recharge doesn’t require you to check out for 3 weeks. It could be a long weekend without your device. It could just be a few extra date nights with a significant other. It could be getting to a house project that just never seems to get done. It’s about breaking out of routine, using the change to spur growth and excitement when you return.

So gone fishin’ is really a metaphor, about breaking out of your daily routine to do something different. Though I will take that literally over the July 4 holiday. There will be fishing. There will be beer. And it will be awesome.

For those of you in the US, have a safe and fun July 4. For those of you not, watch the news – there are always a few Darwin Awards given out when you mix a lot of beer with fireworks.


Photo credit: “Gone Fishing” from Jocelyn Kinghorn

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.

Managed Security Monitoring

Evolving Encryption Key Management Best Practices

Incident Response in the Cloud Age

Understanding and Selecting RASP

Maximizing WAF Value

Recently Published Papers

Incite 4 U

  1. More equals less? Huh? Security folks are trained that ‘more’ is rarely a good thing. More transactions means more potential fraud. More products means more integration and maintenance cost. Even more people can challenge efficiency. But does more code deploys mean fewer security headaches? Of course the folks from Puppet want you to believe that’s that case, because they are highlighted in this article referring to some customer successes. It turns out our research (including building pipelines and prototyping our own applications) shows that automation and orchestration do result in fewer security issues. It’s about reducing human error. To be clear, if you set up the deployment pipeline badly and screw up the configurations, automation will kill your app. But if you do it right there are huge gains to be had in efficiency, and in reduced attack surface. – MR
  2. A bird in the hand: Jim Bird has a new O’Reilly book called DevOpsSec: Securing Software through Continuous Delivery (PDF). It’s a good primer on the impact of continuous deployment on secure code development. Jim discusses several success stories of early DevOps security initiatives; outlining the challenges of integrating security into the process, the culture, and the code. Jim has contributed a ton of research back to the community over the years, and he is asking for feedback and corrections on the book. So download a free copy, and please help him out. – AL
  3. Stimulating the next security innovations: I mentioned in the last Incite that DARPA was funding some research into the next iteration of DDoS technologies. Not to be outdone, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) office is looking for some ideas on the evolution of intruder deception. Rich has been interested in these technologies for years, and this is one of the disruptions he laid out in the Future of Security research. It’s clear we won’t be able to totally stop attackers, but we can and should be able to set more traps for them. At least make their job a little harder, and then you aren’t the path of least resistance. And kudos to a number of government agencies putting money up to stimulate innovation needed to keep up with bad folks. – MR
  4. Relevance falling: The PCI Guru asks Is the PCI-DSS even relevant any more?, a question motivated by the better-late-than-never FTC investigation of breaches at major retailers. He argues that with ubiquitous point-to-point and end-to-end encryption (P2PE and E2EE respectively) and tokenization removing credit cards from transactions, the value of a CC# goes down dramatically. Especially because CC# is no longer used for other business processes. We think this assertion is accurate – replace credit cards numbers with systemic tokens from issuing banks, and PCI-DSS’s driver goes out the window. By the way, this is what happens with mobile payments and chipped credit cards: real CC#s no longer pass between merchants and processors. To be clear, without the credit card data – and so long as the Primary Account Reference (PAR) token is not present in the transaction stream – encryption no longer solves a security problem. Neither will PCI-DSS, so we expect it to die gradually, as the value of credit card numbers becomes nil. – AL
  5. Mailing it in: Everyone has too much to do, and not enough skilled resources to do it all. But when you contract with a professional services firm to perform something like an incident response, it would be nice if they actually did the work and professionally documented what they found. It’s not like you aren’t trying to figure out what happened during an attack – both to communicate to folks who lost data, and to make important funding and resource allocation decisions so you can move forward. But what happens when the consultant just does a crappy job? You sue them, of course. Ars Technica offers a good article on how a firm sued TrustWave after their allegedly crappy job was rescued by another services firm. I wasn’t there and didn’t see the report, so I can’t really judge the validity of the claims. But I think a customer standing up to a response firm and calling them out is positive. Consultants beware: you just can’t mail it in – it’s not fair to the customer, and likely to backfire. – MR