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Thumbs up or down? Welcome to security wisdom watch

Oct 18, 20113 mins
Data and Information Security

Each month in CSO Magazine I look at those who have made an impact — for better or worse — on the security industry. Here’s what I’ve seen in the last two months.

Note, these are my own opinions, not those of the entire CSO staff. Feel free to disagree with me in the comments section.

From the October 2011 edition

Thumbs down: 9/11 anniversary hacks: Hackers used the 9/11 anniversary to create online mischief, hijacking NBC News’s Twitter account and posting bogus updates about an attack on New York. As a CNN reporter said on that day 10 years ago, “There are no words.”

Thumbs both ways: Car hacking: Some vendors are stirring the FUD pot with warnings about hackers hijacking increasingly computerized cars. It’s a bit early for this to be a real threat. But as we’ve seen with smartphone hacking, theory eventually becomes reality.

Thumbs down: Airport screening: Telling a woman she can’t enter the United States because the cops went to her home after an attempted suicide six years ago is not going to reduce terrorism. So why are customs officials doing it? In our view, it’s security theater gone horribly wrong.

Thumbs up: Social media in emergencies: Twitter, Facebook and other social media have proved valuable during recent earthquakes and hurricanes. If these platforms existed on 9/11, additional lives might have been saved.

Thumbs both ways: Sourcefire’s Agile Security: The vendor is taking care to avoid compromising its Snort open-source intrusion-detection system while it expands its portfolio. This is a big relief, as many organizations rely on Snort. Merging new technology with old can be problematic, but it’s so far, so good during Sourcefire’s steady expansion.

From the September 2011 edition

Thumbs down: Trolling: Sometimes it’s good to make controversial statements on Twitter, especially if it ignites a debate security pros can learn from. The problems start when the talk gets mean. Lately, we’ve seen a little too much of the latter.

Thumbs down: Booth Babes: McAfee hired women to hang around its Black Hat booth and show some skin last month. A lot of skin, actually. Showing more—and better—security technology would have been more useful than appealing to our baser desires.

Thumbs both ways: Hackers Working for the NSA: Some hackers see nothing but evil in working for the government, especially for the National Security Agency. They argue that NSA employees spend more time on activities that invade our privacy than on those that make cyberspace safer. There are some truths there. But that argument also sounds like a cop out.

Thumbs down: Bad Behavior at Security Conferences: From Black Hat attendees getting robbed to Defcon attendees’ breakfast drinks allegedly being spiked with drugs (based on Twitter chatter during the event), there’s a lot of bad behavior to be ashamed of in the security community of late.

Thumbs up: Redeeming Behavior at Security Conferences: Despite the shameful behavior mentioned above, a lot of conferencegoers rose to the occasion when victims needed help. We’d like to think that says more about our community than the not-so-good deeds.

–Bill Brenner

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