Rich here,

First a quick note. I will be giving a webcast on managing SaaS security later this month. I am about to start writing more on the Cloud Security Gateway market and new techniques for dealing with SaaS.

I planned to write something irreverent in this week’s Summary (like my favorite films), but it has been an odd week in the security world. I expect the consequences to play out over the next decade. I should probably write this up as a dedicated post, but my thoughts are shifting around so much that I am not sure my ideas are ready to stand on their own.

Before I go into this, please keep in mind that the security ‘world’ is a collection of different groups. Tribes might be a better word. But across all subgroups we tend to be skeptical and critical. That is quite healthy, considering what we do, but can easily turn negative and self-defeating.

This is especially true when we engage with society at large. We are, on the whole, the pain-in-the-ass cousin who shows up at the holidays and delights in challenging and debating the rest of the family long past the point where anyone else cares. Yeah, we get it, you caught me in a logical fallacy because I like my new TV but bitched at you for not recycling your beer cans. You win. Now pass the stuffing and STFU.

Also factor in our inherent bias against anyone who does things others don’t understand. (Hat tip to Rob Graham for first introducing me to this concept). We have a long lineage that looks something like heretic > witch > egghead > nerd > geek > hacker. No, not everyone reading this is a hacker, but society at large cannot really differentiate between specific levels of technical wizardry. This is especially true for those of you who play with offensive security, no matter how positive your contributions.

Back to the main story, which is shorter than all this preamble. This week the White House proposed some updates to our computer security laws. Some good, some bad. The Twitter security echo chamber exploded a bit, with much hand-wringing over how this could lead to bad legal consequences – not only for anyone working legitimately in offensive security; it could also create all sorts of additional legal complexities with chilling effects.

There are actually a bunch of proposals circulating, which would affect not only cybersecurity but general Internet usage. From the UK wanting to ban encryption, to mandating DNSSEC, to the FBI wanting to ban effective encryption, to… well, everyone wanting to ban encryption, file sharing, and… stuff.

Many in the security world seem to feel we should have some say over these laws and policies. But we have mostly seen vendors lobby to have their products mandated (and then shrug when people using them get hacked), professional groups pushing to have their training or certifications mandated, and the occasional researcher treated like a dancing monkey for the cameras. And political leaders probably don’t see much distinction between any of these and the big Internet protests that their Hollywood funders all tell them are just criminals who want to watch movies free.

We have mostly done this to ourselves. We are fiercely independent, so it isn’t like we speak with a single voice. We can’t even decide what constitutes a “security professional”. Then we keep shooting ourselves in the foot by demanding evidence from law enforcement and intelligence agencies on things like the Sony hack. And, er, telling the FBI they are wrong rarely works out well.

I am not telling anyone not to do or say what they want. Just keep in mind how the world views you (as witches), and how much technology just scares people, no matter how much they love their iPhones. And if you want to affect politics you need to play politics. Twitter ain’t gonna cut it.

Seriously, no one likes that smarty-pants cousin (or in-law, in my case). And if any lobbyists are reading this, please fix the Kinderegg ban first, then get started on defending encryption.

On to the Summary:

Webcasts, Podcasts, Outside Writing, and Conferences

Favorite Securosis Posts

  • Mike Rothman: Your Risk Isn’t My Risk. It is always important to consider likelihood when looking at new attacks. Rich puts the latest in context.
  • Rich: Incite 1/14/2015: Facing the Fear. Because that was my only other choice. I mean, it’s still a good post, but it isn’t like I had an option.

Other Securosis Posts

And now you see why I had to pick Mike’s post.

Favorite Outside Posts

  • Adrian Lane: The importance of deleting old stuff. Honestly, it’s not as valuable as you think, and it is likely to cause harm in the long run.
  • Mike Rothman: The Stunning Scale of AWS. I remember Rich mentioning some of these stats after he got back from the AWS conference in 2013. It is shocking to see this documented, and to understand that when trying to really scale something… commercial products just won’t cut it. Really interesting.
  • Rich: Encryption is Not the Enemy. Dennis lays it out nicely, not that I expect the latest round of crypto wars to end any time soon.

Research Reports and Presentations

Top News and Posts