Tag Archives: infosec

Post RSA musings

So it finally happened – I’ve had my first RSA in 9 years.

And what an experience. Suffice to say that I ended that week with no voice, a bad back, and minimally functioning knees, but given the premise of the show I’d peg is as a huge success.

First – having BSides to catch up with friends and colleagues was a perfect beginning to the week (not to mention the weekend in Napa right before – thanks for having me, Tenable!). There still is a huge value that I see in BSides, and BSidesSF specifically. Albeit the great venue (thanks OpenDNS), some more hallway-con was sorely missed. Be it the way the venue is laid out (preventing from more active/vocal discussions from happening other than outside), or the decision to run a dry venue (not even bring your own alcohol), I’d want to see how peer-engagement gets more focus there.

Second – the ability to “hack” RSA from a technical person’s perspective, and yes, I still consider myself somewhat technical, regardless of my ability to don on a suite and behave like a business guy. Which is sort of what hacking RSA is… It was intriguing having interactions with people outside of the echo-chamber (aka infosec) who deal with security and having them take a preconceived notion of me as a sales person. Or with those who gravitated to me as “I needed to talk to someone who is technical” – probably after snooping around a bit and choosing their approach based on existing conversations 😉

Last (and I saved the downer for here) – the show floor. After getting over the sheer size of the convention (no worries – BlackHat has a way to go until it becomes an RSA), I had my expectations adjusted a bit. Walking through the halls, you get into a realization that a lot of the companies showing there (especially the south hall) should probably have no reason to exist. The same regurgitation of “threat intelligence”, “endpoint protection” (i.e. APT, 0day, etc…), and your usual “trust me, I’m an engineer” approaches, were becoming comical to a point where I’d need to keep my gaze pointed far away and ignore the noise while walking around. I truly expected to see some new innovative approaches to security, and companies who would break out of the circle-jerk of security vendors. Unfortunately I didn’t see many, the reason for which I can’t really put my finger on (maybe the cost of entry to RSA?).

Overall, a great experience (and yes – lots of new business too), so yes, I believe my #notatrsa streak has come to an end. Or maybe I’m just getting old 😉

2015-04-21 15.57.44

Yes – you can engage with other evangelists at RSA! (and what seemed like a weird obsession – collect truckloads of branded t-shirts and vendor giveaways).

Women in infosec? That thing again?

I usually don’t weigh in on the topic, well, because I don’t have the right equipment for once, and furthermore, I think that the majority of discussions around it are led by people who woefully misrepresent most of the women in infosec that I know.

courtesy: http://meanwomensuck.com/ (seriously!)But I have to share this: Jennifer J. Minella (@jjx on twitter) posted her quick rant after hitting RSA: http://securityuncorked.com/2014/02/calling-bull-on-women-in-infosec/.

And I couldn’t agree more. I can only share my own experiences, and I’ll do it anecdotally (i.e. non-representative of frequency or quantity). First – women “empowering” other women who work together. Bad Idea. Again – anecdotally, having such a situation ends up in “cleanup on aisle 3”. Competitive, backstabbing, fame stealing, idea hogging, you name it. Someone gets hurt, and sometimes it’s not even the one in the more senior position.

The second example is layering – having mixed groups of the male and female persuasion  usually ends up in empowerment. Of both groups. Ideas that get better “QA” in their inception and formalizing phases, wider coverage of risks and development areas, and even more relaxed work environment when compared to mostly homogeneous groups. Works even better when such “layering” is also reflected in the organizational hierarchy. Men reporting to Women, who report to Men, and so on.

So there you go – a bit of good, a bit of bad, but remember again that these are just anecdotes. I’m sure that you’ll find counter-examples, and more ideas that support the “clan” model where women should stand for one another and support each other. I don’t see this as something that’s going to be better than finding out real mentors (regardless of gender) that you can learn from, and teach back. I know I have – both as a mentor, as well as a mentee or protégé (one of these words isn’t a word I suspect…).

I’ve yet to meet a women in infosec who’s been “empowered” because of other women, on the other hand I’ve met a lot of women in infosec that made it because they actively took a role in the industry, fought for their voice (just like anyone in the industry does), and didn’t give up just because they were denied. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been denied, yet we all keep working and pushing forward. Finding excuses for being rejected is easy. Either because you are a women, or maybe black, or white, or speak the wrong language, wear the wrong clothes, have a different opinion, religion, nationality – you name it. I can point out people from each one of those “traits” and show you how it never made it as an excuse in their vernacular. They just kept pushing on.

Picking up the glove – DC9723

Every time I get back from the annual DefCon/BlackHat/BSides conferences in Vegas, i usually run into some of the local security folks that managed to make the trip as well, and the plan ride home usually goes like this:”so, this year was pretty cool, huh?”, “yeah, funny how we only get to meet up so far away from home”, “right! Isn’t that a shame that we don’t have any local conferences back in Israel?…”.
You get the idea.
So, after many years of just complaining and saying that we suck, we decided to finally give it a go (we being my colleague Itzik Kotler and myself).
Ergo, DefCon group 9723 (or DC9723 for short).
We have bought the domain, set up a site, and called for the first meeting to be in Tel-Aviv on December 21st. Hope that this will finally bring this disjoint community together and will get us up to par with other communities all around the world.
See you there!