The Security Community’s Power Comes From Sharing

Back in the 1970s and 1980s there was a saying “knowledge is power.” Unfortunately back then it actually translated into “with-holding knowledge” is power. Working as an administrator for one of the first IBM PC vendors in the early 1980s was an experience. My boss said it had taken him a year to learn to configure a PC and refused to show me how to do it “because it was so hard,” and our support guys would withhold basic configuration information such as a printer cables requiring male to female pins.

As an ambitious young executive with a degree in computer science, I would spend until 2 am n the morning learning about all the company’s software packages and hardware and pretty soon got fed up with the with-holding knowledge’ culture of that era and decided that I would try and teach everyone all this “IT and security stuff.” Soon customers were asking for the guy in administration and purchasing to help.

The New Knowledge is Power

Fast forward three decades on and we see that the phrase “Knowledge is Power” has come to mean the exact opposite to the 70s and 80s where the new generation is determined to give away as much knowledge to anyone who wants it. People who withhold knowledge by “talking techie” or having abominable social skills are bypassed in promotion or hidden away in the bowels of the corporation.

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Optimizing Managed Service Delivery With Secure Application Acceleration
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What has this got to do with security? Everything. In order to develop a worldwide security posture against cyber crime, security professionals at all levels need to network and share intelligence. If one company is compromised by an attack, then others will also be compromised by the same attack vectors.

One of our most read articles is a step by step article on how to compromise SSL-VPN and e-commerce websites. The article was submitted by First Base Technologies, an ethical hacking company. Computer Weekly verified the article had been around for several months but not in a detailed step by step format. The latest details on other SSL-VPN weaknesses were advised on by members of the community.

As a result of sharing by security professionals, the SSL-VPN article was transformed into something better suited to serving the community.

Networking in The Security Community

Networking in the security community, giving away and helping others bolster their organisational stance, makes the world a securer place. One of the best pieces of advice that Team Cymru (a non-profit organisation dedicated to making the Internet a safer place) is to get involved in the security community.

There are many “Chatham House” rules environments where security professionals can share information securely. Three that I have had the privilege of working in include:-

Security Vibes – an online community for CISO/CSO/CIO level security managers – Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams

Global CEP, A community where senior executives discuss risk based issues.

No matter how clever you are, your organization is insecure, if you’re in security and not networking.

Ben Chai

About Ben Chai

Ben Chai is a founding director of Incoming Thought Limited a company which specialises in whitepapers and education for corporations in the area of security. Incoming Thought has worked with several organisations such as the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams, Security Vibes and The Corporate Executive Program. Ben has also been technically involved in several major deployments of Windows technologies (Active Directory, Microsoft SMS, Windows NT, Microsoft Exchange) to blue chip corporations such as Royal Bank of Scotland, Citibank, Total Oil and worked with several businesses in the capacity as a security consultant, helping them with hardening their systems and security processes. Further articles on security matters from Ben Chai can be found in Computer Weekly, ITproportal, Infosecurity from Elsevier and the Incoming Thought Twitter account.


One Response to The Security Community’s Power Comes From Sharing

  1. Hawk
    hawk August 24, 2009 at 11:18 am #

    Through the eighties and part of the nineties I sold networks and worked with designers to try to shift systems paradigms. Even when the decision came from top-down to do so, structural issues dragged and crushed some systems and some organizations. I believe some of it still exists, though in segregated corridors, especially entrenched bureaucracies. The word “Proprietary” was pervasive in many ways; the question is, what to do about it, Today, when you find it?

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