2015 Wrap Up and 2016 Non-Predictions

Rich, Mike, and Adrian highlight the big trends from the year and where our expectations were right and wrong. We teeter on the brink of predictions, but manage to pull ourselves back from falling into that chasm of idiocy. Mostly. We cover a fair bit of ground, but the main trends are the weirdnesses on the investment and M&A side of the security industry, breaches, the faster than expected adoption of cloud computing, and the changing regulatory environment. This is likely our last Firestarter for the year, and our posting volume will be lower as we all cram in those last few projects. We sincerely want to thank everyone watching and reading for your continued support. It lets us try out best to “do good work” while feeding our families. We are a very lucky band over here. Share:

Read Post

The Blame Game

Get hacked? Blame China. Miss a quarter? Blame China. Serve malware to everyone visiting your site? Don’t take responsibility, just blame your anti-ad-blocking vendor. Or China. Or both. Look, we really can’t keep track of these things, but in this episode Mike and Rich talk about the lack of accountability in our industry (and other industries). One warning… a particular analogy goes a little too far. Maybe we need the explicit tag on this one. Share:

Read Post

Get Your Marshmallows

Last week we learned that not only did Symantec mess up managing their root SSL certificates, but they also botched their audit so bad Google may remove them from Chrome and other products. This is just one example in a long history of security companies failing to practice what they preach. From poor code development practices to weak internal controls, the only new thing in this instance is the combination of getting caught, potential consequences, and a lack of wiggle room. Share:

Read Post

re:Invent Yourself (or else)

A bit over a week ago we were all out at Amazon’s big cloud conference, which is now up to 19,000 attendees. Once again it got us thinking as to how quickly the world is changing, and the impact it will have on our profession. Now that big companies are rapidly adopting public cloud (and they are), that change is going to hit even faster than ever before. In this episode the Securosis team lays out some of what that means, and how now is the time to get on board. Share:

Read Post

MAD Karma

Way back in 2004 Rich wrote an article over at Gartner on the serious issues plaguing Oracle product security (the original piece is long down, but here is an article based on it). It lead to a moderately serious political showdown, Rich flying out to meet with Oracle execs, and, eventually, their move to a quarterly patch update cycle (due to the botched patch, not Rich’s article). This week, Oracle’s 25-year veteran CISO Mary Ann Davidson published a blog post decrying customer security assessments of their products. Actually, let me rephrase, she pretty much threatened them with legal action for evaluating Oracle products using tools that look at the application code. Then she belittled security research in general, informed everyone to trust them since they find nearly all the bugs anyway (not that they seem to patch them in a timely fashion), and… you get it. Then, and this is the best part, Oracle pulls the post and basically issued an apology. Which, like, never happens. Thus you probably don’t need us to tell you what this Firestarter is about. The short version is the attitudes and positions expressed in that post are very much in line with Rich’s experiences with the organization, and Mary Ann, over a decade ago. Yeah, this is a fun one. Share:

Read Post

Living with the OPM Hack

And yep, thanks to his altruistic streak even Rich is affected. We don’t spend much time on blame or the history of it, but more the personal impact. How do you move on once you know much of your most personal information is now out there, you don’t know who has it, and you don’t know how they might want to use it? Share:

Read Post

We Don’t Know Sh—. You Don’t Know Sh—.

Once again we have a major security story slumming in the headlines. This time it’s Hackers on a Plane, without all the Samuel L goodness. But what’s the real story? It’s time to face the reality that the only people who know are the ones who aren’t talking, and everything else you hear is most certainly wrong Share:

Read Post

RSAC wrap-up. Same as it ever was.

Do bigger numbers mean we are any better than last year? And how can we possibly balance being an industry, community, and profession simultaneously? Not that we answer any of that, but we can at least keep you entertained for 13 minutes. Share:

Read Post

Using RSA

The RSA Conference is the biggest annual event in our industry (really – there are tens of thousands of people there). But bigger doesn’t mean everything is better, and it can be all too easy to get lost in the event and fail to get value out of it. Even if you don’t attend, this is the time of year a lot of security companies focus on, which affects everything you see and read – for better and worse. This week we discuss how we get value out of the event, and how to find useful nuggets in the noise. From skipping panels (except Mike’s, of course) to hitting some of the less-known opportunities like Learning Labs and the Monday events, RSA can be very useful for any security pro, but only if you plan. Share:

Read Post

Cyber Cash Cow

Last week we saw a security company hit the $2.4B valuation level. Yes, that’s a ‘B’, as in billion. This week we dig into the changing role of money and investment in our industry, and what it might mean. We like to pretend keeping our heads down and focusing on defense and tech is all that matters, but practically speaking we need to keep half an eye on the market around us. It not only affects the tools at our disposal, but influences the entire course of our profession. Share:

Read Post

Totally Transparent Research is the embodiment of how we work at Securosis. It’s our core operating philosophy, our research policy, and a specific process. We initially developed it to help maintain objectivity while producing licensed research, but its benefits extend to all aspects of our business.

Going beyond Open Source Research, and a far cry from the traditional syndicated research model, we think it’s the best way to produce independent, objective, quality research.

Here’s how it works:

  • Content is developed ‘live’ on the blog. Primary research is generally released in pieces, as a series of posts, so we can digest and integrate feedback, making the end results much stronger than traditional “ivory tower” research.
  • Comments are enabled for posts. All comments are kept except for spam, personal insults of a clearly inflammatory nature, and completely off-topic content that distracts from the discussion. We welcome comments critical of the work, even if somewhat insulting to the authors. Really.
  • Anyone can comment, and no registration is required. Vendors or consultants with a relevant product or offering must properly identify themselves. While their comments won’t be deleted, the writer/moderator will “call out”, identify, and possibly ridicule vendors who fail to do so.
  • Vendors considering licensing the content are welcome to provide feedback, but it must be posted in the comments - just like everyone else. There is no back channel influence on the research findings or posts.
    Analysts must reply to comments and defend the research position, or agree to modify the content.
  • At the end of the post series, the analyst compiles the posts into a paper, presentation, or other delivery vehicle. Public comments/input factors into the research, where appropriate.
  • If the research is distributed as a paper, significant commenters/contributors are acknowledged in the opening of the report. If they did not post their real names, handles used for comments are listed. Commenters do not retain any rights to the report, but their contributions will be recognized.
  • All primary research will be released under a Creative Commons license. The current license is Non-Commercial, Attribution. The analyst, at their discretion, may add a Derivative Works or Share Alike condition.
  • Securosis primary research does not discuss specific vendors or specific products/offerings, unless used to provide context, contrast or to make a point (which is very very rare).
    Although quotes from published primary research (and published primary research only) may be used in press releases, said quotes may never mention a specific vendor, even if the vendor is mentioned in the source report. Securosis must approve any quote to appear in any vendor marketing collateral.
  • Final primary research will be posted on the blog with open comments.
  • Research will be updated periodically to reflect market realities, based on the discretion of the primary analyst. Updated research will be dated and given a version number.
    For research that cannot be developed using this model, such as complex principles or models that are unsuited for a series of blog posts, the content will be chunked up and posted at or before release of the paper to solicit public feedback, and provide an open venue for comments and criticisms.
  • In rare cases Securosis may write papers outside of the primary research agenda, but only if the end result can be non-biased and valuable to the user community to supplement industry-wide efforts or advances. A “Radically Transparent Research” process will be followed in developing these papers, where absolutely all materials are public at all stages of development, including communications (email, call notes).
    Only the free primary research released on our site can be licensed. We will not accept licensing fees on research we charge users to access.
  • All licensed research will be clearly labeled with the licensees. No licensed research will be released without indicating the sources of licensing fees. Again, there will be no back channel influence. We’re open and transparent about our revenue sources.

In essence, we develop all of our research out in the open, and not only seek public comments, but keep those comments indefinitely as a record of the research creation process. If you believe we are biased or not doing our homework, you can call us out on it and it will be there in the record. Our philosophy involves cracking open the research process, and using our readers to eliminate bias and enhance the quality of the work.

On the back end, here’s how we handle this approach with licensees:

  • Licensees may propose paper topics. The topic may be accepted if it is consistent with the Securosis research agenda and goals, but only if it can be covered without bias and will be valuable to the end user community.
  • Analysts produce research according to their own research agendas, and may offer licensing under the same objectivity requirements.
  • The potential licensee will be provided an outline of our research positions and the potential research product so they can determine if it is likely to meet their objectives.
  • Once the licensee agrees, development of the primary research content begins, following the Totally Transparent Research process as outlined above. At this point, there is no money exchanged.
  • Upon completion of the paper, the licensee will receive a release candidate to determine whether the final result still meets their needs.
  • If the content does not meet their needs, the licensee is not required to pay, and the research will be released without licensing or with alternate licensees.
  • Licensees may host and reuse the content for the length of the license (typically one year). This includes placing the content behind a registration process, posting on white paper networks, or translation into other languages. The research will always be hosted at Securosis for free without registration.

Here is the language we currently place in our research project agreements:

Content will be created independently of LICENSEE with no obligations for payment. Once content is complete, LICENSEE will have a 3 day review period to determine if the content meets corporate objectives. If the content is unsuitable, LICENSEE will not be obligated for any payment and Securosis is free to distribute the whitepaper without branding or with alternate licensees, and will not complete any associated webcasts for the declining LICENSEE. Content licensing, webcasts and payment are contingent on the content being acceptable to LICENSEE. This maintains objectivity while limiting the risk to LICENSEE. Securosis maintains all rights to the content and to include Securosis branding in addition to any licensee branding.

Even this process itself is open to criticism. If you have questions or comments, you can email us or comment on the blog.