Before I dive into this week’s sermon, just a quick note that our posting will be a bit off through the end of the year. As happens from time to time, our collective workloads and travel are hitting insanity levels, which impedes our ability to push out more consistent updates. But, you know, gotta feed the kids and dogs.
A couple weeks ago I got to abandon my family during the weekend and spend my time in a classroom renewing my Emergency Medical Technician certification. I was close to letting it go, but my wife made it abundantly clear that she would rather lose me for a weekend than deal with the subsequent years of whining.
I never look forward to my recert classes. It is usually 2-3 days in a classroom, followed by a written and psychomotor (practical) test. I first certified as an EMT in 1991, and then became a paramedic in 1993 (which is an insane amount of training – no comparison). I won’t say I don’t learn anything in the every-two-year refresher classes, but I have been doing this for a very long time. But this year I learned more than expected, and some of it relates directly to my current work in security.
Five or six years ago I started hearing about some new trends in CPR. A doctor here in Phoenix started a research study to try a completely nonconventional approach to CPR. The short version is that the human body, when dead, isn’t using a ton of oxygen. Even when alive we inhale air with 21% O2 and exhale air with 16% O2. Stop all muscular activity and the brain will mostly suck out whatever O2 is circulated when you compress someone’s chest. This doc had some local fire departments use hands-only CPR and 300 compressions with no ventilations. This keeps the blood pressure up and blood circulating, and the action of pushing the chest generates more than enough air exchange.
The results? Something like 3x the survival rates.
The CPR you learn today probably isn’t there yet, but definitely emphasizes compressions more than mouth-to-mouth, which I suspect will be dropped completely for adults if the research holds. There’s more to it, but you get the idea.
All right, interesting enough, but what does this have to do with security?
I found myself instinctively clinging to my old concepts of the ‘right’ way to do CPR despite clear evidence to the contrary. I understand the research, and immediately adopted the changes, but something felt wrong to me. I have been certified in what are basically the same essential techniques for nearly 30 years. Part of me didn’t want to let go, and that wasn’t a feeling I expected. I later had the same reaction to changes in the treatment of certain closed head injuries, but that more due to specific cases where I used techniques now known to harm patients.
I am an evidence-based guy. I roll with the times and try not to cling to convention, but somewhere in me, especially as I get older, part of the brain reacts negatively to changing old habits. Fortunately, my higher-order functions know to tell that part to shut the hell up.
We have a tendency to imprint on whatever we first learn as ‘correct’. Perhaps it was the act of discovery, or forming those brain pathways. In security we see this all the time. I once had an IT director tell me he would rather allow Windows XP on his network over iPads, because “we know XP”. Wrong answer.
The rate of change in security exceeds that of nearly every other profession. Even developers can often cling to old languages and constructs, and that profession is probably the closest. I like to think of myself as an enlightened guy capable of assimilating the latest and greatest within the context of what’s known to work, and I still found myself clinging to a convention after it was scientifically proven wrong.
I don’t think any of us are in a position to blame others for “not getting it”. All of us are luddards – you just need to hunt for the right frame of reference. That is not an excuse, but it is life.
On to the Summary:
Webcasts, Podcasts, Outside Writing, and Conferences
- Nada. Unless Google and Bing are both lying to me. Like I said, busy week.
Favorite Securosis Posts
- Adrian Lane: Microsoft Upends the Bug Bounty Game. This may work.
- Mike Rothman: Microsoft Upends the Bug Bounty Game. Not a lot of choice this week (yes, I have been the suck at blogging lately). But Rich does a nice job explaining the ripple effects of Microsoft extending their bounty program.
- Rich: New Series: The Executive Guide to Pragmatic Network Security Management. The post isn’t new, but I can announce that RedSeal Networks intends to license it (pending the end of our open peer review process). And don’t forget that this is the first papare we are opening up for full public change tracking on GitHub.
Other Securosis Posts
Favorite Outside Posts
- Adrian Lane: I Love the Smell of Popcorn in the Morning. Why did I choose to never be a CIO again? This is why. You’d think this type of story would be rare, but it’s common. However, it only occurs at 2:00am or on your first day of vacation.
- Mike Rothman: Five Styles of Advanced Threat Defense. The Big G does a decent job of explaining the overlap (and synergy) of these so-called Advanced Threat product categories. I differ slightly on how to carve things up but this is close enough for me to mention.
- Rich: IT Security from the Eyes of Data Scientists. Yep, serious job security if you head down this path.
Research Reports and Presentations
- Firewall Management Essentials.
- A Practical Example of Software Defined Security.
- Continuous Security Monitoring.
- API Gateways: Where Security Enables Innovation.
- Identity and Access Management for Cloud Services.
- Dealing with Database Denial of Service.
- The 2014 Endpoint Security Buyer’s Guide.
- The CISO’s Guide to Advanced Attackers.
- Defending Cloud Data with Infrastructure Encryption.
- Network-based Malware Detection 2.0: Assessing Scale, Accuracy and Deployment.
Top News and Posts
- TCP source port zero traffic has some researchers worried.
- Mozilla Lightbeam Add-On Shows Risk of Third Party Sites.
- Microsoft Warns of Zero-Day Attack on Office via Krebs.
- Denial-of-service tool targeting Healthcare.gov site discovered.
- Bad Kaspersky update borks thousands of computers. Every AV vendor does this from time to time.
- Microsoft and Facebook start joint bug bounty program.
- Barracuda Networks goes public. Congrats!
- NIST opening up crypto review process in response to NSA leaks.
- Apple updates Safari to defend against BEAST attack. Last to the table – disappointing.