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What’s this have to do with infosec?

Jan 27, 20123 mins
Investigation and ForensicsPhysical Security

Usually, when we do something off the wall like my article and slideshow on L.A. crime scenes and the psychology of security, some readers are left asking what the subject matter has to do with their cyber-based jobs. The short answer is that CSO covers physical as well as cyber security. We spend a lot of time illustrating where the two sides connect. 

But once in a great while, we deliberately go off the tried-and-true path and focus on something readers might consider whacky. This is one of those times.

The truth is that I’ve always had a personal fascination with true crime cases, especially the Manson Murders. Ever since I was a kid and I first saw the 1976 TV movie on the Manson Murders, I've been fascinated. I've read "Helter Skelter," the book by Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, dozens of times.

I own the 1976 and 2004 versions of the film on DVD, along with a documentary called "The Six Degrees of Helter Skelter," where host Scott Michaels, keeper of the popular site, takes the viewer on a tour of places connected to the case, including Cielo Drive, scene of the Tate murders.

Why the fascination with such an awful tragedy?

Not because of the brutal nature of the murders. I've seen the crime scene forensic photos, and they made me sick to my stomach.

It's really part of my fascination with history. Like it or not, this is a piece of American history. It's a snapshot of everything that went wrong in the 1960s, where a counterculture born of good intentions -- a craving for peace in Vietnam and at home -- lost it's way because there were no rules, no discipline and there was no sobriety. I agree with those who believe the promise of the 1960s died abruptly in the summer of 1969.

I'm also fascinated because it shows how easily seemingly stable people can be brainwashed and controlled to the point where they would willingly heed orders to commit the worst of sins.

In my mind, this stuff fits the subject of security like a glove. After all, security is largely a game of examining the psychology  of criminals who lurk in the physical and cyber worlds and how best to protect our employers, friends and family from their sinister schemes.

That said, I knew turning this into a security project would be a stretch. But I decided to see where it took me anyway.

The big lesson was that the things you think are there for security are often just there for show. No big revelation there, but it was an interesting journey all the same.

Thanks for indulging me.