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Cello Wars

For your holiday amusement: Thanks, Jeff!


Living in a Shell

Check out this amazing house by Arquitectura Organica:


Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-12-25

Weekend NewSchool blog: "APT Didn't Eat our Theme. Adam Did." (cc @RealGeneKim, @alexhutton ) # Really, TSA? The airline isn't allowed to auto-enter my freakin' date of birth? Has anyone calculated lifetimes wasted on red tape? # RT @BillBrenner70 Stop them before they predict again! # I predict 90% of 2012 infosec predictions […]


Discussing Norm Marks' GRC Wishlist for 2012

Norm Marks of the famous Marks On Governance blog has posted his 2012 wishlist. His blog limits the characters you can leave in a reply, so I thought I’d post mine here. 1. Norm Wishes for “A globally-accepted organizational governance code, encompassing both risk management and internal control” Norm, if you mean encompassing both so […]


Niels Bohr was right about predictions

There’s been much talk of predictions lately, for some reason. Since I don’t sell anything, I almost never make them, but I did offer two predictions early in 2010, during the germination phase of a project a colleague was working on. Since these sort of meet Adam’s criteria by having both numbers and dates, I […]


The New School of Security Predictions

Bill Brenner started it with “Stop them before they predict again!:” My inbox has been getting hammered with 2012 vendor security predictions since Halloween. They all pretty much state the obvious: Mobile malware is gonna be a big deal Social networking will continue to be riddled with security holes Technologies A, B and C will […]


The Pre-K underground?

Not my headline, but the New York Times: Beyond the effort was the challenge of getting different families to work together. When matters as personal as education, values and children are at stake, intense emotions are sure to follow, whether the issue is snacks (organic or not?), paint (machine washable?) or what religious holidays, if […]


Owning Up to Pwnage (Part 2)

On Saturday, I discussed how “I bolluxed our blog theme.” “More to the point, we here at the New School talk a good game about how we need to talk about problems, rather than cover them up. So here’s our money where our mouths are. I, Adam Shostack, screwed up the blog presentation by not […]


Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-12-18

RT @jeremiahg "HBGary not only didnt lose biz customers in the past year, but "got additional business" -Hoglund # RT @bobblakley @Judgenap "Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty." Thomas Jefferson # Weekend blog "Threat Modeling & Risk Assessment" follows up on conversation with @451wendy # RT […]


APT didn’t eat our theme. Adam did.

If you read this blog with a web-reader, you’ll note our (ahem) excellent new theme, and may be saying, wow, guys, “nice job” Yeah. Ooops. I upgraded to WordPress 3.3, and upgraded our theme, and in so doing, overwrote some of the CSS that Alex had tweaked. I didn’t test, and so things were wonky. […]


ThreatPost Podcast with Adam Shostack

Last week I did a podcast with Dennis Fisher. In it, we touched on what I might change in the book. Take a listen at: “Adam Shostack on Methods of Compromise, the New School and Learning“


Outrage of the Day: DHS Takes Blog Offline for a year

Imagine if the US government, with no notice or warning, raided a small but popular magazine’s offices over a Thanksgiving weekend, seized the company’s printing presses, and told the world that the magazine was a criminal enterprise with a giant banner on their building. Then imagine that it never arrested anyone, never let a trial […]


The output of a threat modeling session, or the creature from the bug lagoon

Wendy Nather has continued the twitter conversation which is now a set of blog posts. (My comments are threat modeling and risk assessment, and hers: “That’s not a bug, it’s a creature. “) I think we agree on most things, but I sense a little semantic disconnect in some things that he says: The only […]


Top 5 Security Influencers of 2011

I really like Gunnar Peterson’s post on “Top 5 Security Influencers:” Its December and so its the season for lists. Here is my list of Top 5 Security Influencers, this is the list with the people who have the biggest (good and/or bad) influence on your company and user’s security: My list is slightly different: […]


"Can copyright help privacy?"

There are semi-regular suggestions to allow people to copyright facts about themselves as a way to fix privacy problems. At Prawfsblog, Brooklyn Law School Associate Professor Derek Bambauer responds in “Copyright and your face.” Key quote: One proposal raised was to provide people with copyright in their faceprints or facial features. This idea has two […]


Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-12-11

RT @daveaitel Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn't Honey << Will anyone go to jail for fraud? # RT @jdp23 Look at the list of the FTC complaints — huge issues. And basically no consequnces to FB. So why should they change? #privchat # RT @threatpost $56 Billion Later and Airport #Security Is Still […]


Threat Modeling and Risk Assessment

Yesterday, I got into a bit of a back and forth with Wendy Nather on threat modeling and the role of risk management, and I wanted to respond more fully. So first, what was said: (Wendy) As much as I love Elevation of Privilege, I don’t think any threat modeling is complete without considering probability […]


Outrage of the Day: Police Violence

When the LAPD finally began arresting those of us interlocked around the symbolic tent, we were all ordered by the LAPD to unlink from each other (in order to facilitate the arrests). Each seated, nonviolent protester beside me who refused to cooperate by unlinking his arms had the following done to him: an LAPD officer […]


Particularly NewSchool Job Posting

From Keith Weinbaum, Director of Information Security of Quicken Loans Inc. From the job posting: WARNING: If you believe in implementing security only for the sake of security or only for the sake of checking a box, then this is not the job for you. ALSO, if your primary method of justifying security solutions […] and Listener Privacy

It turns out that it’s very hard to subscribe to many podcasts without talking to servers. (Technical details in the full post, below.) So I took a look at their privacy statement: Podtrac provides free services to podcasters whereby Podtrac gathers data specific to individual podcasts (e.g. audience survey data, content ratings, measurement data, […]


Cheezy Lines by a BioStatistician

from Biostatistics Ryan Gosling Including my favorite:             Thanks to my friend Bob Rudis for the headsup.


Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-12-04

New School blog "'Its Time to Learn Like Experts' by @jayjacobs" # RT @dmolnar Help me shop for furniture # RT @moxie__ WhisperSystems has been acquired! < Congratulations! I hope it leads to great things for Twitter privacy # RT @tsastatus A few new features, and a bunch of status updates, at […]


Gävle Goat Gambit Goes Astray

It’s a bit of a Christmas tradition here at Emergent Chaos to keep you informed about the Gävle Goat. Ok, technically, our traditions seem hit and miss, but whaddaya want from a site with Chaos in the name? You want precision, read a project management blog. Project management blogs probably set calendar reminders to kick […]


Paper: "The Future of Work is Play"

My colleague Ross Smith has just presented an important new paper, “The Future of Work is Play” at the IEEE International Games Innovation Conference. There’s a couple of very useful lessons in this paper. One is the title, and the mega-trends driving games into the workplace. Another is Ross’s lessons of when games work: Over […]


Big Brother Watch report on breaches

Over at the Office of Inadequate Security, Dissent says everything you need to know about a new report from the UK’s Big Brother Watch: Extrapolating from what we have seen in this country, what the ICO learns about is clearly only the tip of the iceberg there. I view the numbers in the BBW report […]


We Robot: The Conference

This looks like it has the potential to be a very interesting event: The University of Miami School of Law seeks submissions for “We Robot” – an inaugural conference on legal and policy issues relating to robotics to be held in Coral Gables, Florida on April 21 & 22, 2012. We invite contributions by academics, […]


Telephones and privacy

Three stories, related by the telephone, and their impact on privacy: CNN reports that your cell phone is being tracked in malls: Starting on Black Friday and running through New Year’s Day, two U.S. malls — Promenade Temecula in southern California and Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, Va. — will track guests’ movements by […]


"It's Time to Learn Like Experts" by Jay Jacobs

I want to call attention to a new, important and short article by Jay Jacobs. This article is a call to action to break the reliance on unvalidated expert opinions by raising awareness of our decision environment and the development of context-specific feedback loops. Everyone in the New School is a fan of feedback loops […]


Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-11-27

MT @attractr Bejtlich: SEC Guidance Emphasizes Materiality for disclosing sec incidents: "new audience: shareholders" # RT @doctorow Just got to Occupy New School << I think Cory means something other than I would mean by this statement 🙂 # NYTimes reports man bites dog, I mean "Screening Still a Pain at Airports, Fliers […]


Relentless navel gazing, part MCXII

Two changes here at Emergent Chaos this weekend: first, a new, variable width theme which is a little tighter, so there’s more on a screen. Second, I’ve moved the twitter summary to weekly, as comments were running about 50-50 on the post asking for opinion. I think that may be a better balance. And a […]


The One Where David Lacey's Article On Risk Makes Us All Stupider

In possibly the worst article on risk assessment I’ve seen in a while, David Lacey of Computerworld gives us the “Six Myth’s Of Risk Assessment.” This article is so patently bad, so heinously wrong, that it stuck in my caw enough to write this blog post. So let’s discuss why Mr. Lacey has no clue […]


What's Wrong and What To Do About It?

Let me start with an extended quote from “Why I Feel Bad for the Pepper-Spraying Policeman, Lt. John Pike“: They are described in one July 2011 paper by sociologist Patrick Gillham called, “Securitizing America.” During the 1960s, police used what was called “escalated force” to stop protesters. “Police sought to maintain law and order often […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-25

RT @marciahofmann Carrier IQ backpedals on bogus legal threat, apologizes to security researcher. < Nice work Marcia! # Powered by Twitter Tools


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-24

RT @risktical #riskhose pocast, Episode 14 @adamshostack & 'feedback loops' – great content! @jayjacobs @alexhutton # New "blog" points to Risk Hose podcast #14 with me, @alexhutton, @risktical @jayjacobs # RT @CYBERLAWRADIO About to go live on CLBR with CMU Proff @lorrietweet on Why Johnny Can't Opt Out – on # RT […]


Risk Hose Podcast #14 with Adam and Alex

I’m on episode 14 of the Risk Hose podcast, with co-blogger Alex. Chris, Jay and Alex are joined by Adam Shostack and we dig into the topic of feedback loops within Information Security. You should check it out! Episode 14: Feedback Loops


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-23

NYTimes reports man bites dog, I mean "Screening Still a Pain at Airports, Fliers Say" # New School blog post, "AT&T Hack Attempt" I'm looking for polling software # I missed a great opportunity in a recent podcast to say "controls implemented in a way that makes both auditors & attackers happy" # […]


AT&T Hack Attempt

First, good on AT&T for telling people that there’s been an attempt to hack their account. (My copy of the letter that was sent is after the break.) I’m curious what we can learn by discussing the attack. An AT&T spokesperson told Fox News that “Fewer than 1 percent of customers were targeted.” I’m currently […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-22

RT @doctorow Just got to Occupy New School << I think Cory means something other than I would mean by this statement 🙂 # Powered by Twitter Tools


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-21

MT @attractr Bejtlich: SEC Guidance Emphasizes Materiality for disclosing sec incidents: "new audience: shareholders" # Powered by Twitter Tools


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-20

New School blog post "Privacy is Security, Part LXII: The Steakhouse" # MT @_nomap More on [obvious] Saudi airport fingerprint fail. It was mostly immigrant workers stranded for 12 hours. # MT @dgwbirch Heard on BBC that poor people use cash, end up paying up to £185 per annum more for utilities << […]


Privacy is Security, Part LXII: The Steakhouse

But in the last year and a half, at least 50 diners at restaurants like the Capital Grille, Smith & Wollensky, JoJo and Wolfgang’s Steakhouse ended up paying for more than just a fine piece of meat. Their card information — and, in effect, their identities [sic] — had been stolen by waiters in a […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-19

RT @alexhutton @adamshostack @bobblakley @threatpost I thought blogging was dead? << apparently! # RT @dostlund: NYPD has sidewalk checkpoints requiring ID to pass down Broadway. Iranian-born co-worker said "they used to do that in Tehran" # New Blog: Emergent Chaos endorses @wimremes for ISC(2) Board # This post by Steve Bellovin reminded me of […]


Emergent Chaos endorses Wim Remes for ISC(2) Board

Today, we are sticking our noses in a place about which we know fairly little: the ISC(2) elections. We’re endorsing a guy we don’t know, Wim Remes, to shake stuff up. Because, really, we ought to care about the biggest and oldest certification in security, but hey, we don’t. And really, that’s a bit of […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-18

MT @ashk4n Most [Android?] Phones Ship w/ CarrierIQ "Rootkit" that allows carrier to keylog & record browser history # MT @bobblakley @threatpost Orgs that ban social networks on company PCs ++more likely to be hacked # New School blog, "Block Social Media, Get Pwned" quick comments on @TELUSBusiness report. (Thanks @bobblakley!) […]


Block Social Media, Get Pwned

At least, that’s the conclusion of a study from Telus and Rotman. (You might need this link instead) A report in IT security issued jointly by Telus and the Rotman School of Management surveyed 649 firms and found companies that ban employees from using social media suffer 30 percent more computer security breaches than ones […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-17

RT @timoreilly TSA Puts Off Safety Study of X-ray Body Scanners Meanwhile, Europe has banned them # Powered by Twitter Tools


And there may be many others but they haven't been discovered

Three newly discovered elements were given names on Friday by the General Assembly of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics at a meeting in London. They are Darmstadtium, or Ds, which has 110 protons in its nucleus and was named after the town in which it was discovered; Roentgenium, or Rg, with 111 […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-16

New School blog post "Breach disclosure and Moxie’s Convergence" (cc @moxie__ ) # New School blog post "Breach disclosure and Moxie’s Convergence" # Powered by Twitter Tools


Breach disclosure and Moxie's Convergence

Two weeks ago I finally got a chance to see Moxie’s Convergence/Trust Agility talk in person. (Since this was at work, let me just re-iterate that this blog is my personal opinions about what I saw.) It’s very good stuff, and Moxie and I had a good side chat about enhancing the usability of Convergence […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-15

RT @exiledsurfer @KforKallisti: Dan Siegel, Mayor Jean Quan's legal adviser quits over #OccupyOakland police raid #ows # MT @mikko Somebody forgot a vacuum cleaner in a Swedish nuke plant, causing $267M in damages: << someone tell stuxnet! # RT @dgwbirch was it a Freeman Dyson? (retires to cheers for making first ever physicist/vacuum […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-14

RT @WC2A_2AE Indian Communist Party General Sectry 'Let's fingerprint all Americans entering the country, like Brazil' # Powered by Twitter Tools


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-12

Nice of Apple to fix CVE-2011-0997, published in April ( # RT @jeremiahg "Steam Web sites hacked, gamer data exposed" < anyone see an attack vector? << Probably social eng 🙂 # RT @josephmenn @daveweigel The winner. RT @KagroX: Why didn't we just make 10/10/10 louder? # RT @WC2A_2AE Anyone interested in border security […]


Twitter Tools? Feedback please

So about a month ago, I started flowing my tweets over here. I’d love your thoughts on if it’s helpful, hurtful, or you just ignore it in your reader. [Update: currently arguments run 3:2 against continuing Twitter in the main feed. More (and civil) debate is invited.]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-11

MT @normative How Far Will the Government Go in Collecting and Storing Data about us? New FBI Documents Shed Light # RT @tqbf If the infosec community was a real influencer in crypto, we'd all be using Twofish instead of AES because of # .@tqbf has the crypto or vuln community given us […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-10

MT @samablog More States Accept [fail to arrest?] TSA VIPR Teams at Transportation Hubs via @zite # Are others seeing ICMP timeouts for /cc @moxie__ # RT @arj: @chenxiwang busts out her dog-eared copy of the Orange Book … < I've never seen a dog-eared copy of the Orange Book! # RT @dakami […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-09

RT @Fiona: Go watch The Muppets hang out on Google+. Me: Thank you: << Is "Cookie Monster" an approved name? # RT @Jim_Harper When I describe @Cato's argument–"reasonable expectation of #privacy quot; FAIL–lawyers steeped in doctrine get confused. #Jones # New blog: "Slow thoughts on Occupy Seattle" # RT @csoghoian Jones oral argument […]


Slow Thoughts on Occupy Seattle

I headed down to Occupy Seattle before a recent vacation, and have been mulling a bit on what I saw, because the lack of a coherent message or leadership or press make it easy to project our own opinions or simply mis-understand what the “Occupy” protests mean, and I wanted to avoid making that mistake. […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-08

New blog: "Thoughts on the 2011 DBIR and APT (Authorization Preservation Threats)" # New School blog: "Thoughts on the 2011 DBIR and APT (Authorization Preservation Threats)" # Powered by Twitter Tools


Thoughts on the 2011 DBIR and APT (Authorization Preservation Threats)

So Verizon has recently released their 2011 DBIR. Or perhaps more accurately, I’ve managed to pop enough documents off my stack that my scribbled-on notes are at the top, and I wanted to share some with you. A lot have gone to the authors, in the spirit of questions only they can answer. Here, I […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-07

RT @moxie__ Sarah's reflections on solitary confinement: # RT @marcan42 RSA keys generated by Ruby didn't actually encrypt anything (e=1). "Oops". << I Ruby-encrypted this tweet # RT @ioerror We demand a vapid, condescending, meaningless, politically safe response to this petition: # RT @bratling @mrkoot @adamshostack @ioerror Broken URL, not site. Here's […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-06

RT @k8em0 Thanks to speakers, attendees, organizers & volunteers for a fantastic & memorable #bluehat ! # RT @bengoldacre I'm leaving journalism for 6 months. Here's what I've learnt from writing about nonsense for 8 years # RT @AdasBooks Book signing with @johncsh tomorrow at 1pm! # RT @normative Profoundly depressed this is […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-05

RT @StephieShaver They say there's no rest for the wicked but at least there's espresso! FridayWHAT? << friday at BlueHat! # RT @Beaker: Congrats to @mortman on joining @enstratus! First @jamesurquhart then @botchagalupe and now Dave! All good friends together # As I watch @moxie__ give his trust talk at BlueHat, I realize how valuable […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-04

RT @at1as: Instead of useless Presidential Debates, how about a #wargame where we get to see how candidates respond to crisis situations? # RT @wikidsystems @adamshostack @at1as Kobayashi Maru! << Cyberyashi Maru! # Getting ready to give my #BlueHat talk on "How Computers Are Compromised." # Oooh, @jeremiahg wants us to play a game at […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-03

MT @samablog TSA Ignored Cancer Risks from TSA Scanners via @zite # RT @k8em0 This year's #bluehat should be exciting, check out the lineup – # RT @k8em0 #bluehat is on! Andrew Cushman reflects on past and future threats. # What do the comments from ISS World( mean for surveillance law in […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-02

RT @ioerror IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference in Seattle < Looks very exciting, wish I'd known sooner # Follow @ioerror for reporting of Patrick Ball, @alexvans for London Cyber-security event # New blog because my main email is down: "Email chaos: How to reach Adam Shostack" # RT @GamingPrivacy reflecting on game design […]


Email chaos: How to reach Adam Shostack

The servers that host my personal email have been taken offline by a surprise attack by the evil forces of snow and ice, and my email is likely to start bouncing soon. If you need to reach me, you can use nameofthisblog @ google, or first.last @ microsoft. You can also ask me to follow […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-11-01

Short blog: "McWrap Chevre" # RT @lorrietweet Why Johnny Can’t Opt Out: A Usability Evaluation of Tools to Limit Online Behavioral Advertising # My personal email server is down because of the snow on the east coast. # RT @STRATFOR If #Anonymous does #OpCartel it will almost certainly lead to deaths for members: […]



The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a report on the State of HTTPS Security that promises to be the first in a series and is well worth reading on its own. The TL;DR version: HTTPS adoption is growing rapidly, but the current system, especially the Certificate Authorities, has much room for improvement before it actually […]


McWrap Chevre

Normally, I like the overlap of cultures, the boundaries of exploration and what comes from that exploration. But this three-way Frankenstien’s combination of French cheese, wraps (not sure where to attribute those–I think the US version is mostly from burritos, but there’s also Arabic pita wraps) and American is somehow best posted on Halloween:


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-10-31

RT @alexhutton Seriously? DHS doesn't *do* threat modeling? My rage is like a 1000 TSA exposed to cancer causing back scatter devices. # RT @ACLU FBI issued 143,074 National Security Letters '03-05 & reported 0 terrorism prosecutions as a result. Zilch. # RT @EthanZ Background on @alaa's detention for refusal to accept legitimacy of […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-10-30

"Plankytronixx" has a nice blog post on Elevation of Privilege at # RT @mattblaze Attention NYPD sign makers: "Just following orders" is not a great slogan. # I'd missed @BillBrenner70 on Security Horror Show What can we do to stop the madness? # RT @AudryT Police confirmed: Pepper spray & rubber bullets […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-10-28

RT @dgwbirch I'm sure talks will be fun, but am looking forward to playing the new version of "Privacy" the card game # I accidentally clicked allow Firefox to share my location. Where the hell is the undo and why isn't it in privacy preferences? # ("Location" doesn't bring up anything in help) # […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-10-27

RT @PogoWasRight Congressman: Secret Report On #TSA Pat Downs, Body Scanner Failures Will “Knock Your Socks Off” # RT @peterhoneyman i fly DTW where they are testing chat down. i opt out and clam up. they get all dour and nasty. # RT @e3i5: Every picture ULed to Facebook is examined for possible matches […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-10-26

RT @georgevhulme RT @msksecurity: The Dark Side Of Biometrics: 9 Million Israelis' Hacked Info Hits The Web # Actually, @danphilpott, the best line is "Crews determined the land mines were benign and removed them from the bag." # RT @k8em0 This year's #bluehat should be exciting, check out the lineup – # […]


DLNA Servers for the Mac

Very short version: Finding a DLNA player that supported the Mac and my new Oppo player was time consuming. Twonky is ok, but I would like something prettier, more reliable, and reasonably secure. I wanted to blog my experience in case it helps other folks. Also, as I posted this, I came across Ed Bott’s […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-10-25

New School blog: "Maria Klawe on increasing Women in Technology" # RT @Jim_Harper How Much Homeland Security is Enough? Live now at: << Right question is "how much is too much?" 🙂 # RT @TheOnion American Voices: Should bikers have to register their trips with the government? Tell us #whatdoyouthink # RT […]


Maria Klawe on increasing Women in Technology

I talk a lot about the importance of data in enabling us to bring the scientific method to bear on information security. There’s a reason for that: more data will let us know the falsehoods, and knowing the falsehoods will set us free. But discovering what claims don’t stand up to scrutiny is a matter […]


Some Thoughts on Binary Risk Assessment

Ben Sapiro showed off his Binary Risk Assessment (BRA) at SecTor recently. While I didn’t see the presentation, I’ve taken some time and reviewed the slides and read through the documentation. I thought I’d quickly give my thoughts on this: It’s awesome and it sucks. IT’S AWESOME That’s not damning with faint praise, rather, it’s […]


Sleepless in Seattle?

Reportedly, Seattle police have begun issuing tickets to drivers who honk their horns after 10 PM in support of the Occupy protest there. To the extent that the police are only doing this to those expressing a specific point of view, there seems to be a legitimate issue. I am certain that the police would […]


CIA Reveals Identity of Bin Laden Hunter

In the Atlantic Wire, Uri Friedman writes “Did the CIA Do Enough to Protect Bin Laden’s Hunter?” The angle Friedman chose quickly turns to outrage that John Young of Cryptome, paying close attention, was able to figure out from public statements made by the CIA, what the fellow looks like. After you’re done being outraged, […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-10-09

RT @stuxnet420 #twitter oh, yeah, it's on now. I'll see your Stuxnet and raise u a predator with an irc server. 🙂 # RT @drunkenpredator Phew. Think I kicked that software virus. Was really messing with my DEAR SIR I HAVE FOR YOU LUCRATIVE PROPOSAL # RT @runasand The CCC has reverse engineered, analyzed […]


Some random cloudy thinking

Thanks to the announcement of Apple’s iCloud, I’ve been forced to answer several inquiries about The Cloud this week. Now, I’m coming out of hiding to subject all of you to some of it… The thing that you must never forget about The Cloud is that once information moves to The Cloud, you’ve inherently ceded […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-10-08

RT @ethicalhack3r @floatingatoll: The UNIX time zone database has been destroyed by its authors due to a legal threat. # RT @radleybalko Unreal. CA appeals court upholds warrantless cell phone searches during traffic stops. # If you haven't seen it, @ErrataRob "Independent reporting of #OccupyWallStreet quot; is a long thoughtful engagement # […]


Twitter updates

I’ve decided to experiment with pushing my Twitter feed onto the blog. What do you think? For non-Twitter users, the RT means “re-tweet,” amplifying things that others have said and MT means modified tweet, where the RT plus comment don’t quite fit. If someone has php code to resolve URLs into real URLs, that […]


Twitter Updates from Adam, 2011-10-07

Sad to say I can find nothing to say beyond thanks, Steve. # Hey @beaker, if you support they have Squirrel t-shirts! # I think that @asteingruebl raises some really good questions in # Eric Rachner continues to need to sue for accountability from Seattle police & their videos # RT @jilliancyork […]


Nothing to add

(I saw this here, would appreciate the right attribution.)


New School of Information Security Book Reading at Ada's

Last Sunday, I did a book reading at Ada’s Technical Books. As I say in the video, I was excited because while I’ve talked about the New School, and I’ve given talks about the New School, I hadn’t done a book reading, in part because of the nature of the book, and my personal comfort […]


The Diginotar Tautology Club

I often say that breaches don’t drive companies out of business. Some people are asking me to eat crow because Vasco is closing its subsidiary Diginotar after the subsidiary was severely breached, failed to notify their reliant parties, mislead people when they did, and then allowed perhaps hundreds of thousands of people to fall victim […]


Book Reading in Seattle on Sunday

This Sunday I’ll be reading from the New School at 4PM on Sunday at Ada’s Technical Books in Capitol Hill. If you’re in the area, you should come!


Lean Startups & the New School

On Friday, I watched Eric Ries talk about his new Lean Startup book, and wanted to talk about how it might relate to security. Ries concieves as startups as businesses operating under conditions of high uncertainty, which includes things you might not think of as startups. In fact, he thinks that startups are everywhere, even […]


Emergent Effects of Restrictions on Teenage Drivers

For more than a decade, California and other states have kept their newest teen drivers on a tight leash, restricting the hours when they can get behind the wheel and whom they can bring along as passengers. Public officials were confident that their get-tough policies were saving lives. Now, though, a nationwide analysis of crash […]


Diginotar Quantitative Analysis ("Black Tulip")

Following the Diginotar breach, FOX-IT has released analysis and a nifty video showing OCSP requests. As a result, lots of people are quoting a number of “300,000”. Cem Paya has a good analysis of what the OCSP numbers mean, what biases might be introduced at “DigiNotar: surveying the damage with OCSP.” To their credit, FoxIt […]


The Rules of Breach Disclosure

There’s an interesting article over at CIO Insight: The disclosure of an email-only data theft may have changed the rules of the game forever. A number of substantial companies may have inadvertently taken legislating out of the hands of the federal and state governments. New industry pressure will be applied going forward for the loss […]


California gets a strengthened Breach Notification Law

Governor Brown of California has signed a strengthened breach notification bill, which amends Sections 1798.29 and 1798.82 of the California Civil Code in important ways. Previous versions had been repeatedly vetoed by Arnold Schwarzenegger. As described[.DOC] by its sponsor’s office, this law: Establishes standard, core content — such as the type of information breached, time […]


Best autoresponse message

As Brad Feld says, this is the best auto-responder in a long time: I am currently out of the office on vacation. I know I’m supposed to say that I’ll have limited access to email and won’t be able to respond until I return — but that’s not true. My blackberry will be with me […]


15 Years of Software Security: Looking Back and Looking Forward

Fifteen years ago, I posted a copy of “Source Code Review Guidelines” to the web. I’d created them for a large bank, because at the time, there was no single document on writing or reviewing for security that was broadly available. (This was a about four years before Michael Howard and Dave LeBlanc published Writing […]



I’ve left Verizon. A lot of folks have come up to me and asked, so I thought I’d indulge in a rather self-important blog-post and explain something: It wasn’t about Verizon, but about the opportunity I’ve taken. Wade, Chris, Hylender, Marc, Joe, Dave, Dr. Tippett & all the rest – they were all really, really […]


Nymwars: Thoughts on Google+

There’s something important happening around Google+. It’s the start of a rebellion against the idea of “government authorized names.” (A lot of folks foolishly allow the other side to name this as “real names,” but a real name is a name someone calls you.) Let’s start with “Why Facebook and Google’s Concept of ‘Real Names’ […]


Securosis goes New School

The fine folks at Securosis are starting a blog series on “Fact-based Network Security: Metrics and the Pursuit of Prioritization“, starting in a couple of weeks. Sounds pretty New School to me! I suggest that you all check it out and participate in the dialog. Should be interesting and thought provoking. [Edit — fixed my […]


Tap Tap Snarky

From the app store: I hope this doesn’t cause Apple to ban snarky update messages.


Worst.Technology.Application.Ever. (?)

It’s occurring to me this morning that in terms of benefit/cost, purely in “damage to society” terms, the decision to put html in emails could be one of the worst ideas in the past 25 years. But that’s just me. Your thoughts on others in the comments?


Emergent Map: Streets of the US

This is really cool. All Streets is a map of the United States made of nothing but roads. A surprisingly accurate map of the country emerges from the chaos of our roads: All Streets consists of 240 million individual road segments. No other features — no outlines, cities, or types of terrain — are marked, […]


Is iTunes 10.3.1 a security update?

Dear Apple, In the software update, you tell us that we should see for the security content of this update: However, on visiting, and searching for “10.3”, the phrase doesn’t appear. Does that imply that there’s no security content? Does it mean there is security content but you’re not telling us about it? […]


Thoughts on this Independence Day

Emergent Chaos has a long tradition of posting the American Declaration of Independence here to celebrate the holiday. It’s a good document in many ways. It’s still moving, more than two centuries after it was written. It’s clearly written, and many people can learn from its structured approach to presenting a case. And last but […]


MySpace sells for $35 Million, Facebook to follow

So MySpace sold for $35 million, which is nice for a startup, and pretty poor for a company on which Rupert Murdoch spent a billion dollars. I think this is the way of centralized social network software. The best of them learn from their predecessors, but inevitably end up overcrowded. Social spaces change. You don’t […]


Breach Harm: Should Arizona be required to notify?

Over at the Office of Inadequate Security, Pogo was writing about the Lulzsec hacking of Arizona State Police. Her article is “A breach that crosses the line?” I’ve been blogging for years about the dangers of breaches. I am concerned about dissidents who might be jailed or killed for their political views, abortion doctors whose […]


Goodbye, Rinderpest, we're probably better off without you

On Tuesday in a ceremony in Rome, the United Nations is officially declaring that for only the second time in history, a disease has been wiped off the face of the earth. The disease is rinderpest. Everyone has heard of smallpox. Very few have heard of the runner-up. That’s because rinderpest is an epizootic, an […]


Sex, Lies & Cybercrime Surveys: Getting to Action

My colleagues Dinei Florencio and Cormac Herley have a new paper out, “Sex, Lies and Cyber-crime Surveys.” Our assessment of the quality of cyber-crime surveys is harsh: they are so compromised and biased that no faith whatever can be placed in their findings. We are not alone in this judgement. Most research teams who have […]


Communicating with Executives for more than Lulz

On Friday, I ranted a bit about “Are Lulz our best practice?” The biggest pushback I heard was that management doesn’t listen, or doesn’t make decisions in the best interests of the company. I think there’s a lot going on there, and want to unpack it. First, a quick model of getting executives to do […]


Are Lulz our best practice?

Over at, Patrick Grey has an entertaining and thought-provoking article, “Why we secretly love LulzSec:” LulzSec is running around pummelling some of the world’s most powerful organisations into the ground… for laughs! For lulz! For shits and giggles! Surely that tells you what you need to know about computer security: there isn’t any. And […]


How the Epsilon Breach Hurts Consumers

Yesterday, Epsilon and Sony testified before Congress about their recent security troubles. There was a predictable hue and cry that the Epsilon breach didn’t really hurt anyone, and there was no reason for them to have to disclose it. Much of that came from otherwise respectable security experts. Before I go on, let me give […]


ThreatPost goes New School

In “It’s Time to Start Sharing Attack Details,” Dennis Fisher says: With not even half of the year gone, 2011 is becoming perhaps the ugliest year on record for major attacks, breaches and incidents. Lockheed Martin, one of the larger suppliers of technology and weapons systems to the federal government, has become the latest high-profile […]


Map of Where Tourists Take Pictures

Eric Fischer is doing work on comparing locals and tourists and where they photograph based on big Flickr data. It’s fascinating to try to identify cities from the thumbnails in his “Locals and Tourists” set. (I admit, I got very few right, either from “one at a time” or by looking for cities I know.) […]


The Future of Education is Chaotic, Fun and Unevenly Distributed

After I wrote “The future of education is chaotic and fun“, I came across “The Montessori Mafia” about the unusual levels of successfulness that Montessori produces. In my post, I opened discussing how our current system of funding education in the US is to force everything through a government department. That department is constrained by […]


The Flying Spaghetti Monster

In honor of rapture day, the Flying Spaghetti Monster has chosen to manifest his tentacly goodness in Stanley Park in Vancouver:


Elevation of Privilege news

I wanted to let people know that Microsoft is making the source files for the Elevation of Privilege game available. They are Adobe Illustrator and InDesign files, and are now on the EoP download site. They’re the 85mb of zipped goodness. They can be used under the same Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 US license under […]


"Pirate my books, please"

Science fiction author Walter John Williams wants to get his out of print work online so you can read it: To this end, I embarked upon a Cunning Plan. I discovered that my work had been pirated, and was available for free on BitTorrent sites located in the many outlaw server dens of former Marxist […]


A Few Data Points

First, for those who might have missed it, Google has released Google Refine, a free tool for cleaning dirty data sets.  It allows you to pull in disparate data, then organize and clean it for consistency. Next, some interesting thoughts on how “anonymized” data sets aren’t, and some thoughts on the implications of this from […]


Photoblogging CHI2011

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the ACM conference on Computer Human Interaction, CHI. As I mentioned in a work blog post, “Adding Usable Security to the SDL,” I’m now focused on usable security issues at work. I’m planning to say more about the conference in a little bit, but for right now, […]


Heaven Forbid the New York Times include Atheists

In “Is Your Religion Your Financial Destiny?,” the New York Times presents the following chart of income versus religion: Note that it doesn’t include the non-religious, which one might think an interesting group as a control. Now, you might think that’s because the non-religious aren’t in the data set. But you’d be wrong. In the […]


Representative Bono-Mack on the Sony Hack

There’s a very interesting discussion on C-SPAN about the consumer’s right to know about breaches and how the individual is best positioned to decide how to react. “Representative Bono Mack Gives Details on Proposed Data Theft Bill.” I’m glad to see how the debate is maturing, and how no one bothered with some of the […]


The future of education is chaotic and fun

Lately, I’ve seen three interesting bits on the future of education, and I wanted to share some thoughts on what they mean. The first is a quickie by Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek, titled “Grocery School.” It starts “Suppose that we were supplied with groceries in same way that we are supplied with K-12 education.” […]


New York memorials

There’s an excellent column in the old liberal tradition of celebrating liberty in this week’s New Yorker. It’s Memorials by Adam Goptnick, and includes a quote from John Stuart Mill at his rhetorical peak.


Star Wars, by George Lucas & Jean Paul Sarte

Here’s your Friday dose of Star Wars. Leave the volume on, even if you don’t speak French. That way your over-achieving cube neighbors will be distracted, too.


Quick Quotes For Your Morning

From Krugman (commentary is his): “Without metrics, you’re just another guy with an opinion. — Stephan Leschka, Hewlett Packard When I hear words from almost anyone about how their approach is better than some other approach, I think of this quote. And as Daniel Patrick Moynihan said: Every man is entitled to his own opinion, […]


Why Do Outsiders Detect Breaches?

So I haven’t had a chance to really digest the new DBIR yet, but one bit jumped out at me: “86% were discovered by a third party.” I’d like to offer up an explanatory story of why might that be, and muse a little on what it might mean for the deployment of intrusion detection […]


Data driven pen tests

So I’m listening to the “Larry, Larry, Larry” episode of the Risk Hose podcast, and Alex is talking about data-driven pen tests. I want to posit that pen tests are already empirical. Pen testers know what techniques work for them, and start with those techniques. What we could use are data-driven pen test reports. “We […]


VERIS Community Data

Seriously. Interesting. Go check this out: Take a look, impact information!


Why Do You Write The Way You Do?

Hey Kids, Reader Mark Wallace wrote in a comment to the blog yesterday, and I wanted to answer the comment in an actual blog post. So here goes: — Mark, Thanks for reading! There’s a point where publicly writing forces me to answer a few questions that I’m not ready to make a quick decision […]


Happy Yuri's Night!

Today, April 12, 2011 is the 50th Anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s historic first flight. Why not join a celebration? Invite to the Kremlin event via Xeni Jardin.


What is Risk (again)?

The thread “What is Risk?” came up on a linkedin Group. Thought you might enjoy my answer: ———————- Risk != uncertainty (unless you’re a Knightian frequentist, and then you don’t believe in measurement anyway), though if you were to account for risk in an equation, the amount of uncertainty would be a factor. risk != […]


What's the PIN, Kenneth?

There’s a story in the New York Times, “To Get In, Push Buttons, or Maybe Swipe a Magnet” which makes interesting allusions to the meaning of fair trade in locks, implied warranties and the need for empiricism in security: In court filings, Kaba argued that it had “never advertised or warranted in any way that […]


Ahem: The New School is more than Data

In “Why The New School Is Important,” Alex writes: Being New School won’t solve your problems. What a New School mindset will do for you is help you begin to understand what your problems actually are. So without arguing with the rest of Alex’s post, I’m forced to beg to differ. The New School is […]


Why The New School Is Important

I participated in another security metrics and risk discussion yesterday (yeah, me talk about metrics & risk – you don’t say). As part of this discussion someone echoed a sentiment I’ve been hearing more and more of recently. A casual acceptance of the logic of metrics and data followed quickly by a dismissive, skeptical statement […]


NewSchool Zombies, Moneyball, & Metrics

Hey!   Tomorrow at 1pm ET reg now: @joshcorman & I redux our (in)famous ‘Metrics are Bunk!?’ debate from RSAC 2011:              


Hey! SourceBoston is going to be CRAZY!

Not crazy like Sammy-Hagar-has-clearly-abused-his-brain-and-its-giving-him-bad-information-to-come-out-of-his-mouth crazy, but crazy like, there-are-so-many-good-talks-you-can’t-possibly-not-get-value-out-of-the-conference crazy. For example, I’ll be talking twice. Once with Dan Geer and Greg Shannon about Prediction Markets in InfoSec. Then I’ll be giving one of THE FIRST EVER (!) debriefings of the 2011 DBIR (which is going to be crazy like both of the above). I’m […]


Microsoft Backs Laws Forbidding Windows Use By Foreigners

According to Groklaw, Microsoft is backing laws that forbid the use of Windows outside of the US. Groklaw doesn’t say that directly. Actually, they pose charmingly with the back of the hand to the forehead, bending backwards dramatically and asking, “ Why Is Microsoft Seeking New State Laws That Allow it to Sue Competitors For […]


I'd like some of that advertising action

Several weeks back, I was listening to the Technometria podcast on “Personal Data Ecosystems,” and they talked a lot about putting the consumer in the center of various markets. I wrote this post then, and held off posting it in light of the tragic events in Japan. One element of this is the “VRM” or […]


Sedgwick, Maine versus the Feds

“Maine Town Declares Food Sovereignty, Nullifies Conflicting Laws.” So reads the headline at the 10th Amendment center blog: The Maine town of Sedgwick took an interesting step that brings a new dynamic to the movement to maintain sovereignty: Town-level nullification. Last Friday, the town passed a proposed ordinance that would empower the local level to […]


Back to You, Rob!

Rob is apparently confused about what risk management means. I tried to leave this as a comment, but apparently there are limitations in commenting. So here go:   Rob, Nowhere did I imply you were a bad pen tester. I just said that you should have a salient view of failure in complex systems (which […]


Actually It *IS* Too Early For Fukushima Hindsight

OR – RISK ANALYSIS POST-INCIDENT, HOW TO DO IT RIGHT Rob Graham called me out on something I retweeted here (seriously, who calls someone out on a retweet? Who does that?): And that’s cool, I’m a big boy, I can take it. And Twitter doesn’t really give you a means to explain why you […]


What does Coviello's RSA breach letter mean?

After spending a while crowing about the ChoicePoint breach, I decided that laughing about breaches doesn’t help us as much as analyzing them. In the wake of RSA’s recent breach, we should give them time to figure out what happened, and look forward to them fulfilling their commitment to share their experiences. Right now we […]


Questions about a Libyan no-fly zone

With the crisis in Japan, attention to the plight of those trying to remove Colonel Kaddafi from power in Libya has waned, but there are still calls, including ones from the Arab League, to impose a no-fly zone. Such a zone would “even the fight” between the rebels and Kaddafi’s forces. There are strong calls […]


Copyrighted Science

In “Shaking Down Science,” Matt Blaze takes issue with academic copyright policies. This is something I’ve been meaning to write about since Elsevier, a “reputable scientific publisher,” was caught publishing a full line of fake journals. Matt concludes: So from now on, I’m adopting my own copyright policies. In a perfect world, I’d simply refuse […]



THURSDAY, THURSDAY, THURSDAY!!!!!!! Hi everyone! SIRA’s March monthly webinar is this Thursday, March 10th from 12-1 PM EST. We are excited to have Mr. Nicholas Percoco, Head of SpiderLabs at Trustwave, talk to us about the 2011 Trustwave Global Security Report. Block off your calendars now! Hello , Alexander Hutton invites you to attend this […]


Fear, Information Security, and a TED Talk

In watching this TEDMed talk by Thomas Goetz, I was struck by what a great lesson it holds for information security. You should watch at least the first 7 minutes or so. (The next 9 minutes are interesting, but less instructive for information security.) The key lesson that I’d like you to take from this […]


Measurement Priorities

Seth Godin asks an excellent question: Is something important because you measure it, or is it measured because it’s important? I find that we tend to measure what we can, rather than working toward being able to measure what we should, in large part because some variation of this question is not asked. I’m going […]


Fixes to Wysopal’s Application Security Debt Metric

In two recent blog posts (here and here), Chris Wysopal (CTO of Veracode) proposed a metric called “Application Security Debt”. I like the general idea, but I have found some problems in his method. In this post, I suggest corrections that will be both more credible and more accurate, at least for half of the […]


Just Because YOU Think Your Clients Are Too Busy and/or Stupid Doesn't Mean Everyone Else Is

Mike Rothman’s “Firestarter” on “Risk Metrics are Crap“. It’s very difficult to argue with a poorly constructed argument. Especially when I have no idea what a “risk metric” is. But best as I can tell, Mike’s position is that unless you are smart and/or have strong resources allocated to your InfoSec team, things like metrics, […]


Unmeddle Housing More

Last month, I wrote: But after 50 years of meddling in the market, reducing the support for housing is going to be exceptionally complex and chaotic. And the chaos isn’t going to be evenly distributed. It’s going to be a matter of long, complex laws whose outcomes are carefully and secretly influenced. Groups who aren’t […]


Best Practices for the Lulz

The New School blog will shortly be publishing a stunning expose of Anonymous, and before we do, we’re looking for security advice we should follow to ensure our cloud-hosted blog platform isn’t pwned out the wazoo. So, where’s the checklist of all best practices we should be following? What’s that you say? There isn’t a […]


Is Norton Cybercrime Index just 'Security Metrics Theater'?

Symantec’s new Norton Cybercrime Index looks like it is mostly a marketing tool. They present it as though there is solid science, data, and methods behind it, but an initial analysis shows that this is probably not the case. The only way to have confidence in this is if Symantec opens up about their algorthms and data.


Police Officers should be able to speak out

I got this in email and wanted to amplify it: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition prides itself on the willingness of our members to stand up and take action against drug prohibition. Last fall, LEAP member Joe Miller did exactly that. A California police officer for eight years before taking a position as a deputy probation […]


SIRA Meeting Today at Noon EST! >> RICH MOGULL

HEY Y’ALL @securosis’ own @rmogull for today’s “al desco” SIRA meeting. Details, details: SIRA’s February monthly online meeting is TODAY; February 10th from 12-1 PM EST. We are excited to have Mr. Rich Mogull from Securosis talk to us with a behind-the-scene look at Securosis’ “2010 Data Security Survey”. Block off your calendars now! The […]


Would a CISO benefit from an MBA education?

If a CISO is expected to be an executive officer (esp. for a large, complex technology- or information-centered organization), then he/she will need the MBA-level knowledge and skill. MBA is one path to getting those skills, at least if you are thoughtful and selective about the school you choose. Other paths are available, so it’s not just about an MBA credential.

Otherwise, if a CISO is essentially the Most Senior Information Security Manager, then MBA education wouldn’t be of much value.


Elevation of Privilege (Web Edition) Question

Someone wrote to me to ask: A few cards are not straightforward to apply to a webapp situation (some seem assume a proprietary client) – do you recommend discarding them or perhaps you thought of a way to rephrase them somehow? For example: “An attacker can make a client unavailable or unusable but the problem […]


What should a printer print?

Over at their blog, i.Materialise (a 3D printing shop) brags about not taking an order. The post is “ATTENTION: ATM skimming device.” It opens: There is no doubt that 3D printing is a versatile tool for materializing your 3D ideas. Unfortunately, those who wish to break the law can also try to use our technology. […]


Infosec's Flu

In “Close Look at a Flu Outbreak Upends Some Common Wisdom,” Nicholas Bakalar writes: If you or your child came down with influenza during the H1N1, or swine flu, outbreak in 2009, it may not have happened the way you thought it did. A new study of a 2009 epidemic at a school in Pennsylvania […]


Egypt and Information Security

Yesterday, I said on Twitter that “If you work in information security, what’s happening in Egypt is a trove of metaphors and lessons for your work. Please pay attention.” My goal is not to say that what’s happening in Egypt is about information security, but rather to say that we can be both professional and […]


Self Promotion: A Little Interview about Alex @ RSA

Self Promotion time, sorry for the spam, but I think the stuff I’ll be participating in at RSA is pretty NewSchool. Here’s an interview that talks about both of the things I’ll be doing and you can see if they’ll be interesting:


Mubarak and TSA agree: No advantage to them leaving

In “TSA shuts door on private airport screening program,” CNN reports that “TSA chief John Pistole said Friday he has decided not to expand the program beyond the current 16 airports, saying he does not see any advantage to it.” The advantage, of course, is that it generates pressure on his agency to do better. […]


Another critique of Ponemon's method for estimating 'cost of data breach'

I have fundamental objections to Ponemon’s methods used to estimate ‘indirect costs’ due to lost customers (‘abnormal churn’) and the cost of replacing them (‘customer acquisition costs’). These include sloppy use of terminology, mixing accounting and economic costs, and omitting the most serious cost categories.


A critique of Ponemon Institute methodology for "churn"

Both Dissent and George Hulme took issue with my post Thursday, and pointed to the Ponemon U.S. Cost of a Data Breach Study, which says: Average abnormal churn rates across all incidents in the study were slightly higher than last year (from 3.6 percent in 2008 to 3.7 percent in 2009), which was measured by […]


Requests for a proof of non-existence

So before I respond to some of the questions that my “A day of reckoning” post raises, let me say a few things. First, proving that a breach has no impact on brand is impossible, in the same way that proving the non-existence of god or black swans is impossible. It will always be possible […]


Gunnar on Heartland

Analysis of Heartland’s business as a going concern by @oneraindrop. Especially interesting after comments on the CMO video.


A Day of Reckoning is Coming

Over at The CMO Site, Terry Sweeney explains that “Hacker Attacks Won’t Hurt Your Company Brand.” Take a couple of minutes to watch this. Let me call your attention to this as a turning point for a trend. Those of us in the New School have been saying this for several years, but the idea […]


A few thoughts on chaos in Tunisia

The people of Tunisia have long been living under an oppressive dictator who’s an ally of the US in our ‘war on terror.’ Yesterday, after substantial loss of life, street protests drove the dictator to abdicate. There’s lots of silly technologists claiming it was twitter. A slightly more nuanced comment is in “Sans URL” Others, […]


I have a dream

It’s MLK Day. Here’s a pdf of the speech. Or watch it online:


Gunnar's Flat Tax: An Alternative to Prescriptive Compliance?

Hey everybody! I was just reading Gunnar Peterson’s fun little back of the napkin security spending exercise, in which he references his post on a security budget “flat tax” (Three Steps To A Rational Security Budget). This got me to thinking a bit – What if, instead of in the world of compliance where we […]


Dashboards are Dumb

The visual metaphor of a dashboard is a dumb idea for management-oriented information security metrics. It doesn’t fit the use cases and therefore doesn’t support effective user action based on the information. Dashboards work when the user has proportional controllers or switches that correspond to each of the ‘meters’ and the user can observe the effect of using those controllers and switches in real time by observing the ‘meters’. Dashboards don’t work when there is a loose or ambiguous connection between the information conveyed in the ‘meters’ and the actions that users might take. Other visual metaphors should work better.


Unmeddling Housing

For a great many years, US taxpayers have been able to deduct interest paid on a home mortgage from their taxes. That made owning property cost roughly 20% less than it otherwise would have (estimating a 25% tax rate on interest on 80% of a property). So everyone could afford 20% “more” house, which meant […]


Referencing Insiders is a Best Practice

You might argue that insiders are dangerous. They’re dangerous because they’re authorized to do things, and so monitoring throws up a great many false positives, and raises privacy concerns. (As if anyone cared about those.) And everyone in information security loves to point to insiders as the ultimate threat. I’m tempted to claim this as […]


TSA News Roundup

Event: The Carnegie Institute for Science will be hosting “The Stripping of Freedom: A Careful Scan of TSA Security Procedures” Outrage: “SFO pilot exposes airport security flaws.” Apparently, pilots allowed to carry guns give up their free speech rights “causes the loss of public confidence in TSA…” (does anyone have a copy of the letter?) […]


CRISC – The Bottom Line (oh yeah, Happy New Year!)

No doubt my “Why I Don’t Like CRISC” blog post has created a ton of traffic and comments. Unfortunately, I’m not a very good writer because the majority of readers miss the point. Let me try again more succinctly: Just because you can codify a standard or practice doesn’t mean that this practice is sane. […]


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