April 2012 Archives

Where's Ben? (May 2012 Edition)

Spring has sprung, and the next concentrated round of travel is nearly upon me. On the off-chance that we've never met, and you'd like a chance, then here are your best bets in the coming weeks. Also, if anybody would be interested in chatting about GRC (and, specifically the LockPath solution), then please drop me a note and I'll work to set something up!

InfoSec vs. Fast Food Nation

Many problems in infosec trace back to human activities, and are consequently reflective of larger societal issues, which have been often represented by the "fast food nation" and "age of ignorance" notions. Sadly, these characterizations are true, as we see now played out with the BYOD movement, so-called "consumerization" of IT, and difficulties keeping control of data.

What got the wheels turning for me was an article I read back in March on The New York Review of Books blog titled "Age of Ignorance". In the article, they pointedly lament what seems to be a rush toward idiocracy and away from a more golden time where intelligence, academia, and open-ended R&D were considered positives. In fact, tying this back into the security meme of my blog, they marvel at even the most fundamental failing of our current society to even know our own basic histories, pinned largely on extremism on both ends of the political spectrum, and representing a very 1984-like reality.

I had the recent good fortune of having Andy Updegrove's The Alexandria Project: A Tale of Treachery and Technology suggested to me as a book that I might enjoy. It's a techno-thriller set in modern times, complete with a solid infosec storyline that doesn't even mention APT once. :)

The story starts out set in Washington, DC, where we follow perennial slacker security uber-genius Frank Adversego, currently stumbling through a job at the Library of Congress (LoC), thanks in large part to his former mentor tossing him a lifeline. All of a sudden, things start going very bad, first at the LoC, and then elsewhere, and all fingers point toward Frank. Spin in some not-so-friend inter-department uncooperation between the Bureau and the Company, a little bit of international intrigue, and the threat of nuclear war, and you have a fun techno-thriller.

Overall, the techies in the crowd will enjoy this book, even though it manages not to get down in the weeds. Non-techies will likely still enjoy the pace and story, as well as a couple patient explanations of the more technical topics as delivered to Frank's daughter Marla. In the end, this story has a little bit of everything in it, and it even has a couple friends twists and turns that will keep you a bit off-balance.

The book is only $2.99 for Kindle, so hurry up and check it out! In doing so, you'll be helping promote an up-n-coming author from our own infosec ranks, with the promise of more to come!

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