(Greek: κρυπτεία / krupteía, from κρυπτός / kruptós, “hidden, secret things”)

Archive for the ‘Infosec’ Category

Sisyphus and The Attribution Rock

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In the wake of the release that Anthem has been hacked I have been taking stock of where we are today where information security is concerned. It seems that if you just look at the industry through the lens of the news media, we are all under constant assault by so called advanced actors out to steal us blind, spy on us, or take our personal data by exotic means that are inscrutable. The realities though are far from the truth where it concerns the advanced nature of the attacks that play into the media and marketing blitzkriegs by companies like Crowdstrike or Mandiant/FireEye are hawking.

The realities are that today we have businesses selling intelligence wholesale to corporations that are not mature enough to use the data they are being sold. On average, the data being sold by these companies is nothing you cannot get from open source arena’s for free and on the whole are overly focused on attribution of groups and actors. While a mature organization might have use of these feeds and reports on various groups the average company out there today just cannot use the data because they lack the practices and people to truly understand the information as well as apply it to their orgs.

Clearly the business model today is intelligence centric and completely lacking in the areas of not only showing companies how to use their intelligence feeds to help in detection but also how to fortify their environments against the attacks to start. Richard Bejtlich was recently on a panel in front of the Senate when he made the comment that many times after his company Mandiant, had been on an engagement with a client they were once again compromised shortly after they left. This comment alone shows just how little these companies like Mandiant are having any effect on teaching these companies how to at least detect if not halt attacks. Attacks mind you, that are not necessarily advanced as the APT moniker implies.

Let’s face the fact that most attacks today do not come from exotic 0day and sneaky DMZ hacks. No, instead these hacks happen through social engineering and phishing attacks. Sure some hackers may be using 0day within their phish attacks but it has been my experience along with many others, that it does not require a 0day to hack a corporate network today. The problems with many corporations stem from a lack of security awareness as well as presence within the org to instil secure practices like patch management and employee awareness on what a phish looks like and how to detect them. Neither of these skills are things that Mandiant or Crowdstrike offers as a primary service. After all, if they did and it really caught on, where would they make their money?

Still however, it is not Mandiant or Crowdstrikes problem is it? They are in the business of incident response and threat intelligence right? No, the real issue here is that both of these companies perpetuate the idea that attribution is the key to stopping all your hacking woes and not so much about having the proper security infrastructure to mitigate these attacks. And by infrastructure I do not mean just hardware and software, I also mean people with skill sets and an organization that understands security from the CEO down. This is the primary issue that I have seen throughout my career in penetration testing and information security. Frankly, it is one of the biggest reasons that pentesters love doing what they do, the corporations make it easy for them because they don’t have a security mindset.

 I cannot tell you how many times over the years I have seen orgs that had grossly misconfigured systems as well as a lack of processes or policies that would mandate that things be run securely. Add this to the notion that these companies also lack real telemetry to track incursions and you have an org without any insight into how it operates as well as what traffic is going in and out of their domain. This is endemic in corporate America and anyone who tells you any different has an agenda to cover their own ass. Collectively corporate America should be totally afraid of what POTUS has proposed in the way of intelligence sharing and not because they should be worried about PII. The real fact of the matter is that they are all going to be worried that they will have to actually perform due diligence, spend money, and have actively operational security programs to feed that information to the sharing program to start.

I would like to change the rhetorical argument then from caring about the who so much and more about the how a hack happens. How did the adversary get in? How did they leverage the vulnerabilities within the company to steal the data without being seen? How did the company miss all of this ex-filtration of data in the first place? These are questions I would be asking first say about Sony than who did it? Was it North Korea? Instead, let’s talk about the organizations failures in security and how they can better shore them up to stop the next attack instead of banging the attribution gong so loudly.

With the announcement today of approximately 80 million records being stolen from Anthem and the usual buzz words of advanced attack ringing in the air, I for one had to say something about the realities we face in security. Simply put, it is too often the case that organizations place security in the category of red headed step child and relegate them to the sub basement as a necessary annoyance. Security is a cost centre and is troublesome all of which is anathema to business as usual. Security causes things to perhaps move slower, make people take a little more time to think, and generally feel like a drag on the hyper-kinetic business model so many corporations feel they need to be today. As such it is always a battle to insure that basic security practices are carried out like patching and hardening of systems. It’s a sad truth and you all must have run into this if you are a blue team player.

How do we fix it all? I have no idea. All I do know is that we are losing the battle and it is not because China is hacking us all with advanced malware on par with Stuxnet. We all need to understand that what we see out of the media is hype and what we see out of the vendors is marketing and not necessarily what we really need. Until such time as all organizations out there understand security and it’s nuances we, the workers within the security field as blue team members will be Sisyphus.

Written by Krypt3ia

2015/02/05 at 19:07

Posted in Infosec

INFOSEC is from the Internet and Executives Are From INITECH

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 According to some out there on the Twitters and the con circuit we in INFOSEC don’t communicate well to our corporate masters. I know what you’re thinking right now… here he goes again on this bullshit… but I really think that more could be said to elucidate at least how I feel about it all. So I thought I would attempt to put this down on the blog as it has been sticking in my craw for a while now. After having spent time talking to people like Josh Corman and others out there who decided to harangue me for being an INFOSEC heretic lately I still felt that perhaps some clarity was necessary and I thought what better way could there be than framing this argument in one of my favourite movies context! So I present to you “Infosec is from the Internets and Executives are from Initech”

INFOSEC is from the Internets

Infosec or Information Security to the lay, is the discipline, no not a science, of applying the practices of security principles to an environment. In many cases out there this means that we the professionals are trying to get the companies we work for, to comply with “Best Practices” with a goal of protecting their data, which really much of the time means the clients information. Now oftentimes I hear the haggard cry by my information security siblings that it feels like they are speaking a foreign language when they talk to the “norms” where they work. This failure in communication follows through to the world at large as well but in the microcosm of the “company” the strata is defined and one of the biggest problems that we all have is the elusive executive.

You see, the executive should be a primary concern of ours to communicate with but all too many times we find ourselves either filling out numerous useless TPS reports (with cover page *tm*) or worse, in the basement Milton style muttering to ourselves about burning down the building. Now some of you out there be saying “Now wait a minute! I have access to my executives!” and if you are and you do then please tell me which unicorn company you work for because I wanna work there as will 99% of the people in our business. Let’s face facts here, we are a different animal from the average exec out there and we may also consider ourselves outside the norm within the world at large too right? I mean we are always the smartest people in the room with the know how and the snark to carry it all off right?

Well maybe we are in fact the smartest in the room. Perhaps too we may be to the far end of the disorder spectrum collectively…  at least we fancy we are because that makes us all VERY special fucking snowflakes right? I suspect the reality is much more complex but the feel of it for us all seems to be that we know what we are talking about, take it seriously, and try to tell the magical exec the truth and either are denied the access, not listened to, or just pretty much told to make due with not doing anything you recommend because the business can’t do it. So what is one in this business supposed to do when this happens? Are we to just suck it up and take it? Are we to complain and whine and moan? Are we to get even? Or, dare I say this in the naked cold light of recent derpy events and butthurt?

… Yes… I will…

Are we to internalize it all and get burned out and manifest all kinds of bad self destructive behaviour because of it?

C’mon! YOU are from the INTERNETS you INFOSEC God(dess) YOU are smarter than 20 of those sofaking executives you work for! So come on, stop obsessing about it and just do your job to the best of your abilities. Like I said in my last screedlet; Report the issues, let them sign off or not, then go home at the end of the day. This is all you can do. You are from the Internets and you can either accept this or just hack the system and then tell us all how you did it at some con in some cool PowerPoint right? Enough of the angst and gravitas ok? All this talk about “communicating” better may have some good points but in general I feel that there is much much more thought that needs to go into this and not just puke out some reductive 20 minute con presentation on it. I will continue with my process of reporting, sign off, and home while all you really smart autists geek it out in a better new hacky way.

Executives are from INITECH

The other side of this problem is understanding your executive beast. What you have to disabuse yourself of is the idea that executives are at all like us. Execs come from INITECH and by this I mean watch “Office Space” again and observe this documentary closely on the ways of the corporate executive and social interactions. This movie is not really satire kids and you should really be able to admit this to yourselves. Execs also believe they are the smartest people in the room as well and unfortunately they actually have the power to squash your nuts as well as just not listen to you. I guess let’s just say that the “them vs. us” thing isn’t working for us but one has to ask just how we “could” reach them and make them understand what we know to be true and important.

Execs are often pampered, old, and out of touch with reality because of their job titles. This is a general malaise from my experience and in some cases it just feels like execs have lobotomies when they get their titles and offices anyway. Don’t even get me started on execs who have the titles with “security” in them as well. I have met many who did not have the experience in security in the first place to even speak knowledgeably on basic security issues never mind the intricacies of say an IE 0day. Lately the joke has been that we need popup books to enlighten them on certain concepts and while that is funny, it also is an admission of the futility we all seem to be facing to some degree in our work lives in security.

The base conceit though is that execs are most concerned with the bottom line. Their personal bottom line in their bank accounts and professional reputation bank seem to take precedence over perhaps listening to you INFOSEC Cassandra warning of the latest malware that might cause them to lose data. So do you really need to figure out a way to get that to them? Do you really have to expend all the time and energy trying to persuade them or to learn executive thinkspeak to reach them when plain and simple language or hand puppets won’t? Once again… Report the dangers, get them to sign off if they don’t want to make changes, and then go home. You know that the exec will be going home that night to their large home and their pool with 2.5 kids named Biff and Muffy and not have one scintilla of a thought about your warnings right?

Rinse and repeat.

Do We Need To Be Peter, Michael Bolton, or Milton?

So to follow through on the metaphor a bit more it becomes clear that we all must choose a means to deal with all of this claptrap we deal with daily. Do we want to be one of the archetypes from “Office Space” and sublimate that way? Which would you rather be I wonder?

Peter: Hypnotized into just not giving a shit about anything

Michael Bolton: Tightly wound and talking about pound me in the ass prison?

Milton: The long suffering borderline psychotic mumbling about burning down the business and being a basement dweller?

Honestly I personally have been a Michael Bolton and a Milton in the past but I have resigned myself to be more of a Peter lately. The others may have some catharsis somewhere down the line but in the end we all know they will pop at some point and burn a place down, have a coronary, or go on an office shooting spree. Nope, the not giving a shit is the way to go as long as you do your job and don’t go all INFOSEC JESUS on it. Face the cold hard realities kids, you can tell the truth, you can do it in the most wonderful ways but if the company or exec is not interested in making changes due to money, politics, or just not caring, then you won’t get anywhere. What’s worse is that if you start obsessing on it you will only make yourselves miserable and by proxy, your workmates, your loved one’s and anyone who comes in contact with you.

If your job makes you miserable because you cannot get through to your chain of command then it’s time to move along or just accept it and get a paycheck. Sure, maybe you have spare cycles and want to create the new mousetrap so go right ahead and come up with your very own Rosetta Stone for exec speak. Just let me know when that is all done and for sale and I will pick that shit right up. However, don’t tell me that I  need to learn how to talk to my exec better at some con and expect me to just bow to your great wisdom. Do it first then lead the way! If you can do it and put that shit into a plan that works universally well god dammit I want that book! It’s once again DATA or it never happened.

…Just be a Peter and live better.

Planet Lumbergh

I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine about all of this post my recent heretical post. We agreed that there is so much that needs to be looked at to effectively attempt to even get close to the problem and that to date, the business and community has done nothing. Perhaps the ossification is due to the problem being so hard. It is also possible that the problem has been ignored because the money is too good now to really make a change and tighten things up. I mean that would really put a dent in many a business if everyone was actually doing security right huh? My personal take though is that there are just too many Lumbergh’s out there in charge and there is nothing we can do about it.

I could once again go into the whole cognitive issues around security but I am just sick to death with trying to explain it all. Face the fact that we humans are very flawed and have a real penchant for repeating history so this worm will just turn and turn and turn again. Nope, it’s better to just do the best you can, inform the management and work on the problems you are allowed to. Of course all the while all those things you aren’t allowed to fix have to be signed off on by management and YOU should have a copy of that form squirrelled away for that inevitable day when they try and shit on you.

Harsh you say? Well I am a realist so suck it. You should be too.

Don’t let the Lumbergh’s get you down man….



Written by Krypt3ia

2014/05/02 at 19:08

Posted in Infosec

Vendor Hell

with 3 comments


Vendor conferences and webinars:

Yesterday many of you who might read my ravings saw my Twitter feed explode with rage over a vendor sponsored conference I attended on the “Target Hack” The invitation to this meeting local to me …well an hour away that is, promised new and interesting information on the Target case and I decided to attend in hopes that there would be some inside info. What I got instead was a chance to listen to the meanderings on the 2nd amendment by Asa Hutchinson and the community college version of X-Force’s state of the hack.

The finale though was the talk on the Target hack which was prefaced with “Everything I am going to talk about today is open source and from the news” …really now, this is your inside information that you said would be given? What proceeded was a description of information you could get by reading the news reports and in particular Brian Krebs blog on the subject. This was nothing like that which I had been lead to believe was on offer and it made my bile rise as you may have seen. It was a giant time suck and really should only have been on offer for those who hadn’t a clue about the hack. In fact, this may well have been useful were you an executive without a clue. Which I am not.

A proposal for a ratings system:

I left the conference after IBM had done their dog and pony show on Target with a headache and a real distaste for all things vendor. I know, this is the norm for the bulk of the people in this business but it made me start thinking on the hour drive home. Perhaps in a perfect world we could have a ratings system for these meetings. If we were to be completely efficacious we could craft a way to denote the level of information being given and those best suited to attend. I know this is likely a pipe dream but I just have to toss this out there.

While I was completely bored and enraged by the conference yesterday, it did have it’s merits for someone who had no clue about the Target hack. Chris Poulin did a fair job at describing the events that were in the news and in the blogs and I believe a lay person (exec) would have learned at least something from it. So could we perhaps work with vendors to get a ratings system as well as maybe work with them to inform our managements in an efficacious way? I know, I may be dreaming a bit here and sound like a Cavalry Unicorn but hey maybe an aneurysm from yesterday made me more open to the idea.

All I am really saying is that if we want to be better at getting our execs to understand some things perhaps we need to control our vendors a bit more and get them to actually be useful to us instead of just hawking bad data and wares. Perhaps the reality is we as security professionals need to look at all of these vendor offerings and choose which ones can be trusted to be at least somewhat informative and worth going to for our management. A simple rating system would be very helpful, let’s say a 1 for n00bs, 2 for intermediate people and a 3 for technical and competent people?

Please? Pretty please?

The community wants better communication? Start reigning these guys in:

I guess what I am saying is that with all of the hubbub over Cavalry and “doing better” I would suggest we first start working with vendors offerings. Let’s cut the bullshit right out and start getting our managements to offerings that will actually help them comprehend the job they are supposed to be doing. Perhaps that only really means not letting them attend anything from a vendor at all huh? Perhaps these are all just in reality boondoggles …which incidentally I feel security conferences are today anyway, that need to be avoided like the plague.

Maybe there is no winning here.. I feel the rage returning which is the prelude to the apathy again, turn, turn, turn. Look, we all complain every day about managements lack of comprehension so if we are going to fix that perhaps strictly monitoring their vendor conference attendance is a good start. As for us, well, we need to continue to be jaded about these calls, webinar’s and meetings accordingly. If yesterday was any indication for X-Force then I need to start pulling away from anything they put out there. I cited it in a tweet but I have no idea how they put a <1% attack traffic on Aerospace and Defense in their slide. Perhaps that datum might speak more to their lack of penetration and usefulness in the space though.. hmmm….

I guess in the end the words to live by are “Caveat Emptor Stupid!”




Written by Krypt3ia

2014/04/25 at 12:36

Posted in DERP, Infosec

SEC BURNOUT and The Psychology of Security

with 7 comments




Recent Days of Whine and Wiping of Noses:

Recently I have had my sensibilities assaulted by the whining on my Twitter feed coming from soundbites from Source Boston as well as others talking about INFOSEC Burnout and community communication issues. What really grinds my gears is the sense that we are all  just helpless mental geniuses that need to learn how to communicate better to do our jobs more effectively as well as the whole “Woe is me no one listens to me” bullshit I keep seeing it reverberate across the community. Well I am here to tell you right now to stop blubbering and put on your big girl/boy/transgendered pants and cut it out.

Last week I had a long back and forth with someone who is “studying” INFOSEC burnout and throughout the conversation (yes hard really in 140 chars per yes yes yes I know Beau) I could not get them to nail down exactly how they were “studying” it as well as what would be the efficacy of doing so. What are the ends that justify the means of this study? Was there to be a self help book? Or are you just having a kumbaya “I’m in INFOSEC and no one listens to me!” bitch session at each conference?

At the end of the day people got hissy and I began to think more and more about just how entitled this community thinks they are as well as how smart they “think” they are. So smart that they can’t get past a problem that properly studied would likely give you all some perspective and solace perhaps and this chaps my ass. While some of you out there are being vocally the new INFOSEC Dr. Phil’s others just go about their day in the war and do their jobs without whining about it.

Not all of us have INOFSEC Jesus complexes.

The Problem Statement:

So here’s the general feeling I get from what I have seen (yes I went to an infosec burnout presentation) from the community on this whole burnout thing.

  • We can’t win the war and it’s hard to even win battles
  • The job is hard because the adversaries have no rules while we do
  • We are constrained by our managements
  • Our end users are morons
  • We’re the God damned smartest people in the room and no one listens to us!
  • We are just perceived as an obstacle to be bypassed or ignored

I am sure there are other complaints that weigh heavily upon the INFOSEC brow but these are the biggies I trust. Perhaps a real study with a real psychological questionnaire is required to get some analytical data to use for a proper problem statement but to date I have seen none. While I agree we work in a tough field from the perspective of “winning” the day and yes we are looked upon by the masses as an impediment and a cost centre this is not the problem set we need to work on. I propose that this problem set is the most self centered and useless one making the rounds today and smacks of every bad pop psychologist’s wet dream of making it big.

In other words; You are all problem solvers. Solve the god damned problem by studying the root causes and then implement what fixes you can come up with. What you are dealing with is human nature, the mechanics of the human brain, and the psychology that goes along with all of this. Apply that laser like focus you all claim you have out there on the problem set and you will in fact come to some conclusions and perhaps even answers that will make you see the problem in a pragmatic way. Once you do this you can then rationalize all of these problems at the end of day and hopefully get past all this self centered bullshit.

Then again this is a community full of attention seekers and drama llama’s so your mileage may vary.

The Psychology of Security:

Once, a long time ago, I found Bruce Schneier relevant. Today I don’t so much think of his mumblings as at all useful however he did write an essay on Psychology and Security that was pretty damn prescient. I suggest you all click on that link and read his one piece on this and then sit back and ponder for a while your careers. What Bruce rightly pointed out is that our brains are wired for “Fight or Flight” on a core level when we lived on the great savannah and that Amygdala (lizard brain) is often at odds with the neocortex, (the logical brain with heuristics) that often times helps us make shortcuts in decision making out of pattern recognition and jumping to conclusions to save the brain cycles on complex data that is always coming at it.

What Bruce and others out there have pointed out is that all of our experiences in security, good and bad, are predicated on the fact that primates at the keyboards are the problem set at the core of the issues. We create the hardware and software that is vulnerable. We are the ones finding and creating vulnerabilities that are exploited by bad people. We are the ones who at a core level cannot comprehend the security values and problems because we are not wired to comprehend them on average due to the way the brain formed and works even today. There are certain problems psychologically and brain wiring wise on the one hand and then there are the social and anthropological issues as well that also play a part in the problem statement. All of these things can and do hinder “security” being something that generally is comprehended and acted upon properly as a society and a species that play into our day to day troubles as INFOSEC workers and we need to understand this.

So, when I hear people decrying that security is hard and that they are burned out because you can’t win or that the client/bosses/those in charge do not listen to you please step back and think about Schneier’s essay. The cognitive issues of comprehending these things is not necessarily the easiest thing to do for the masses. Perhaps YOU are just the Aspergers sufferer who’s wired differently to get it, had you ever considered that?

Security is a complex issue and you INFOSEC worker, hacker, Aspergers sufferer, should look upon all of this as a tantalizing problem to solve. Not to whine about and then turn it on it’s ear that you need to be more soft, and listen to your clients/bosses to hear their woes. We all have problems kids. It’s just a matter of looking at the root of the issues and coming up with solution statements that work. In the case of the brain and cognition we have our work cut out for us. Perhaps someday someone will come up with a nice framework to help us all manipulate the brain to understand the issues and cognate it all efficiently… Perhaps not. Until then, just take a step back and think about the issues at hand.

A Pragmatic Approach To Your Woes:

So with the problem statement made above what does one have to do to deal with the cognitive problems we face as well as our own feelings of inadequacy in the face of them? The pragmatist would give you the following advice:

  • It is your job to inform your client/bosses of the vulnerabilities and the risks
  • It is your job ONLY to inform them of these things and to recommend solutions
  • Once you have done this it is up to them to make the decisions on what to do or not do and to sign off on the risks
  • Your job is done (except if you are actually making changes to the environment to fix issues)

That’s really all it’s about kids. YOU are a professional who has been hired to be the canary in the coal mine. You can tweet and twitter all you like that the invisible gas is headed your way to kill you all but if the miner doesn’t listen …Well you die. If you want to change this problem statement then you need to understand the problems cognitively, socially, and societally (corporately as well) to manipulate them in your favour at the most. At the least you need to understand them to deal with them and not feel that burnout that everyone seems to be weeping about lately.

Look at it this way, the security issues aren’t going to go away. The fact of the matter is they will only increase as we connect every god damned thin to the “internet of things” so our troubles around protecting ourselves from the digital savannah and that “cyber tiger” *copyright and trademark to me…derp** are not going to diminish. Until such time as the brain re-wires or we as a society come to grips with the complex issues of the technologies we wield today we as security workers will need to just deal with it. Either we learn to manipulate our elephants or we need to get out of the business of INFOSEC and just go hack shit.


Finally one comes to a cathartic state when you realize that only YOU can fix your problems coping with your work. Sure, people can feel better if this sit around and bitch about their problems but that won’t stop their problems from being problems will it? Look at the issues as a problem statement Mr. or Miss/Mrs security practitioner as a problem to hack. Stop being a whiny bunch of bitches and work it out.


Failing that, come to accept the problems and put yourself in the place where you are just the Oracle at Delphi. You impart your wisdom and say “You’re mileage may vary” and be done with it. Until such time as you manipulate the means that you get this across to the companies management and they make a logical decision based on real risk you just have to accept it. If your place of work has no real risk acceptance process then I suggest you get one put in place or perhaps find a new job. You are not Digital Jesus. You can’t fix everything and you cannot fix those who are broken like Jesus did in healing the blind and making a hell of a lot of fish sandwiches from one tuna can.

Either understand and come up with a way to fix the problem or accept it for what it is and move on.

Stop the whining.



Written by Krypt3ia

2014/04/13 at 12:22


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Yesterday’s Source Boston keynote started bubbling up in Twitter like swamp gas releasing soundbites that were reminiscent to new age babble on how we as a community are bad communicators. While I agree that many in the community at large are bad at communicating anything other than self interest (i.e. con deadheads) I would have to say that there are many many more of us with day jobs who can communicate and do.


The fact of the matter is that if you are a con deadhead then perhaps Justine Aitel is talking to you, which she did coincidentally at a conference! Gross generalities make my eye twitch and so do new age koans about such a complex issue as information security. So I would like to address the snippets that came out yesterday in my usual style of bilious and yet hopefully thought provoking responses.


Screenshot from 2014-04-09 04:37:17


The first slide in the roster actually struck me as something I have been saying for quite a while but in this re-telling it’s much softer. I have been calling bullshit on the con deadheads for a while now but I guess it’s finally getting traction. The truth of the matter is that if you are just speaking at conferences all the time what the fuck are you really doing? You speak to the same crowds and often times of late you present the same god damned things. What is the fucking point?

So yes I agree with you Justine on this but I think you could be more blunt. If all you do is go from con to con partying and giving the same talks then you sir or madam are committing cyber douchery. It’s just that simple.


Screenshot from 2014-04-09 04:37:42


We develop secret knowledge and power? Holy what the fuck does that even mean? If this is the case then we are all collectively Dr. Evil at worst or Bloefeld at the best? We also suck at listening because we are evil geniuses? What the fuck does this even mean? Look we are technical people and we speak in technical language which often times seems like magic to the people who do not comprehend the rudiments of technology never mind some of its most complex theory and implementation.

We also suck at listening? Really? All of us? Gross generality much? Look there are two sides to the equation here and sure some of us in the community may not listen well. For that matter we may not listen at all except to our own base drum of LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! but please, we aren’t the only problem here when it comes to the security problems of today. You are over simplifying things just a bit in a time when we need more complex and nuanced thought on the matter. The corker here is that all of this is being transmitted by soundbite by Twitter of all things.



Screenshot from 2014-04-09 04:38:10

Uh what? Are you going to tell me that Hitler wasn’t a great communicator? Have you seen those old movies of his speeches? I am in no way saying he was a huggybear but HOLY WTF are you on a roll with generalities and useless new age speech. So once again you see us as great technical masters of the universe and yet we are all portrayed as somewhere on the far end of the spectrum on the DSMV for Aspergers? Look, we may have great technical abilities in some cases. In others we may be just useless twats. Let’s not put this into axis of evil territory or paint us all with the same inept brush of bad communicators or sufferers of Aspergers here.


Screenshot from 2014-04-09 04:38:27

Oh here we go.. We need to be vulnerable to grow. Thanks Dr. Phil. How about instead we just be more self aware and able to comprehend the social surroundings we are in. Understand the system to work the system. Better yet how about you understand the system and the players to come to the place where you accept that nothing you do really matters unless the people WHO PAY YOU are willing to make changes or LISTEN to you. It has nothing to do with being soft or vulnerable and this kind of shit is just as bad as the polar opposite of “Real men don’t eat quiche”



Screenshot from 2014-04-09 04:39:14

No no no NO. The word CYBER is a mystical amulet that the masses use to infer some vague notion of all things magic and incomprehensible! This is not something we should promote whatsoever. It’s perpetuation should stop and you just crossed the Rubicon on this. This really burns me and that this idea was even floated makes my blood boil. You say you want to communicate but you are willing to compromise with the word CYBER instead of using real language to convey the complexities we deal with? Good God this is one of the most idiotic statements I have seen of late!


Screenshot from 2014-04-09 04:39:37

I agree.. Much of society at large has no idea what we do.  Do you really want to know why this is true? Have you ever tried to explain to them why it’s important and how it works? Even in small words? You get the glazed eyes and they begin musing on what Kim Kardashian is doing. THEY DON’T CARE TO UNDERSTAND! Still you want to call it CYBER and use general terms in an attempt to dumb it down so they get it? I am saying to you right here and right now that they won’t care and they won’t get it. It’s all fucking CYBER APT CLOUD MAGIC to them all.


Screenshot from 2014-04-09 04:39:59


So as an industry we are too self involved and unable to listen to the people we are tasked with protecting… Hmmm… Ok sure. We are a calamity of derp as an industry that has been riddled with FUD and sales buzzwords. We also have a populace of attention seekers with a real penchant for TNT Dramallama flogging. We wallow in our soup of “Ain’t I cool” and look at me look at me! It’s true. However, that is not the whole community and this is yet another generality that borders on the new age derpy.

I also would say just what is it we need to listen to? Listen to the companies and players who have agenda’s that make bad choices in the face of being told that they are vulnerable? Listen to the people who say that the work is too hard and that out of hand deny anything you say is relevant or important? Some actually put on a show and say they will fix things or change their ways but really, how many times have we seen that and then seen nothing change? Listening is just fine but the crux of the matter today is that you tell the client what is wrong and then say “You can fix this or you can accept the risk on this”

That’s it.

You don’t need to be a great communicator here or all new age fuzzy because the fact of the matter is that people will make decisions based on their own needs and desires and not the truth. What this community (and the one I speak of are the con deadheads) needs to do is grow up. Spend less time lauding their own ingenuity and grok a bit more on other things in the world. Perhaps there are a mass of Aspergers sufferers at these cons but that is no reason to paint the whole community of security with the same brush. I communicate just fine and I have come to accept the fact that all I can really do is present the information, the risks, and recommendations. It is up to the client to decide whether or not it is in their own interests to do anything about them. I just get them to sign off on the risks of not doing so and my job is done.

Enough of the new age fuckery…



Written by Krypt3ia

2014/04/09 at 10:40

Posted in Infosec

So here’s my thing….

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Face it.. We are all PWND six ways to Sunday

Every frigging day we hear more and more about how the NSA has been emptying our lives of privacy and subverting the laws of this land and others with their machinations. It’s true, and I have been saying as much since the day Mr. Klein came out of his telco closet and talked about how the NARUS system had been plugged into the MAE West back in the day. We are all well and truly fucked if we want any kind of privacy today kids and we all need to just sit back and think about that.

*ponder ponder ponder*

Ok, I have thought about it and I have tried to think of any way to protect myself from the encroachment of the NSA and all the big and little sisters out there. I am absolutely flummoxed to come up with any cogent means to really and truly protect my communications. Short of having access to the NSA supercloud and some cryptographers I don’t think that we will not truly have any privacy anymore. If you place it on the net, or in the air. We have reached in my opinion the very real possibility of the N-Dystopia I have talked about before in the Great Cyber Game post.

As the pundits like Schneier and others groan on and on about how the NSA is doing all of this to us all I have increasingly felt  the 5 stages of grief. I had the disbelief (ok not completely as you all know but the scope was incredible at each revelation) Then the anger came and washed over me, waves and waves of it as I saw the breadth and scope of the abuse. Soon though that anger went away and I was then feeling the bargaining phase begin. I started to bargain in my head with ideas that I could in fact create my own privacy with crypto and other OPSEC means. I thought I could just deny the government the data. I soon though began to understand that no matter what I did with the tools out there that it was likely they had already been back door’d. This came to be more than the case once the stories came out around how the NSA had been pressuring all kinds of tech companies to weaken standards or even build full back doors into their products under the guise of “National Security”

Over time the revelations have all lead to the inescapable truth that there is nothing really anyone can do to stop the nation state from mining our communications on a technological level. Once that had fully set in my mind the depression kicked in. Of late I have been more quiet online and more depressed about our current state as well as our future state with regard to surveillance and the cyberwarz. I came to the conclusion that no matter the railing and screaming I might do it would mean nothing to the rapidly approaching cyberpocalypse of our own creation arriving. ….In short, we can’t stop it and thus the last of the five stages for me has set in. I accept that there is nothing I can do, nay, nothing “we” can do to stop this short of a bloody coup on the government at large.

I now luxuriate in my apathy and were I to really care any more I would lose my fucking mind.


Speaking of losing one’s mind.. Lately people all have been yelling that OPSEC is the only way! One (the gruqq) has been touting this and all kinds of counterintelligence as the panacea for the masses on these issues. Well, why? Why should we all have to be spies to just have a little privacy in our lives huh? I mean it’s one thing to be a shithead and just share every fucking stupid idea you have on FriendFace and Tweeter but really, if you can’t shut yourself up that is your problem right? No, I speak of the every day email to your mom telling her about your health status or maybe your decision to come out etc. Why should the government have the eminent domain digitally to look at all that shit now or later?

If you take measures to protect these transactions and those measures are already compromised by the government why then should you even attempt to protect them with overburdened measures such as OPSEC huh? I mean, really if you are that worried about that shit then go talk to someone personally huh? I know, quite the defeatist attitude I have there huh? The reality is that even though I claim not to be caring about it (re: apathy above) I actually do but I realize that we no longer have privacy even if we try to create it for ourselves with technical means. If the gov wants to see your shit they will make a way to do so without your knowing about it. I fully expect someday that they will just claim eminent domain over the internet completely.

Fuck OPSEC.. I want my government to do the right thing and not try to hide all their skirting of the law by making it classified and sending me an NSL that threatens to put me in jail for breaking the law.

Fuck this shit.


Then we have the CYBERWARZ!! Oh yeah, the gubment, the military, and the private sector all have the CYBERWARZ fever. I cannot tell you how sick of that bullshit I am really. I am tired of all the hype and misdirection. Let me clear this up for you all right here and right now. THERE IS NO CYBERWAR! There is only snake oil and espionage. UNTIL such time as there is a full out kinetic war going on where systems have been destroyed or compromised just before tanks roll in or nukes hit us there is no cyberwar to speak of. There is only TALK OF cyber war.. Well more like masturbatory fantasies by the likes of Beitlich et al in reality. So back the fuck off of this shit mmkay? We do not live in the world of William Gibson and NO you are not Johnny Mnemonic ok!

Sick. And. Tired.

I really feel like that Shatner skit where he tells the Trekkies to get a life…


All that is left for us all now is the DERPOCALYPSE. This is the end state of INFOSEC to me. We are all going to be co-opted into the cyberwarz and the privacy wars and none of us have a snowball’s chance in hell of doing anything productive with our lives. Some of us are breaking things because we love it. Others are trying to protect “ALL THE THINGS” from the breakers and the people who take their ideas and technologies and begin breaking all those things. It’s a vicious cycle of derp that really has no end. It’s an ouroboros of fail.

RAGE! RAGE! AGAINST THE DYING OF THE PRIVACY! is a nice sentiment but in reality we have no way to completely stop the juggernaut of the NSA and the government kids. We are all just pawns in a larger geopolitical game and we have to accept this. If we choose not to, and many have, then I suggest you gird your loins for the inevitable kick in the balls that you will receive from the government eventually. The same applies for all those companies out there aiding the government in their quest for the panopticon or the cyberwarz. Money talks and there is so much of it in this industry now that there is little to stop it’s abuse as well.

We are well and truly fucked.

So, if you too are feeling burned out by all of this take heart gentle reader. All you need do is just not care anymore. Come, join me in the pool of acceptance. Would you care for a lotus blossom perhaps? It’s all good once you have accepted the truth that there is nothing you can do and that if you do things that might secure you then you are now more of a target. So, do nothing…



Book Review: An Introduction to Cyber-Warfare: A Multidisciplinary Approach

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CYBER CYBER CYBER! or “CRY HAVOC AND LET SLIP THE DIGITAL DOGS OD CYBER WAR!”” is often what you hear from me in a mocking tone as I scan the internet and the news for the usual cyber-douchery. Well this time kids I am actually going to review a book that for once was not full of douchery! Instead it was filled with mostly good information and aimed at people who are not necessarily versed at all in the cyberz. I personally was surprised to find myself thinking that I would approve this for a syllabus (as it has been placed into one by someone I know and asked me to read this and comment)

The book really is a primer on IW (Information Warfare) and Cyber-Warfare (for lack of a better nomenclature for it) which many of you reading my blog might be way below your desired literacy level on the subjects. However, for the novice I would happily recommend that they read the book and then spend more time using ALL of the footnotes to go and read even more on the subject to get a grasp of the complexities here. In fact, I would go as far as to say to all of you out there that IF you are teaching this subject at all then you SHOULD use this book as a starting point.

I would also like to say that I would LOVE to start a kickstarter and get this book into the hands of each and every moron in Congress and the House. I would sit there and MAKE them read it in front of me *surely watching their lips move as they do so* There are too many people in positions of power making stupid decisions about this stuff when they haven’t a single clue. I guess the same could be said about the military folks as well. We have plenty of generals who have no idea either.. That’s just one man’s opinion though.

As we move further and further down the cyber-war road I think that books like this should be mandatory reading for all military personnel as well as college level courses in not only IW/INFOSEC but also political and affairs of state majors as well. We will only continue down this road it seems and it would be best for us all if the next wave of digital natives had a real grasp of the technologies as well as the political, logical, and tactical aspects of “Cyber”

I have broken down the book into rough chapters and subject areas as it is within the book (mostly) It really does cover more of the overall issues of cyber-warfare and methods used (not overly technical) The modus operandi so to speak of the actual events that have taken place are laid out in the book and give you a picture of the evolving of IW to what we see today as “cyber-warfare” I will comment on those sections on what I thought was good and what I thought was derpy of course, I mean would you all have it any other way?


The authors cover early IW with the Russian saga’s over Georgia and Estonia. There is a lot in there that perhaps even you out there might not know about the specifics of the incidents where Russia is “alleged” to have attacked both countries at different times with different goals and effects. Much of this also touches on the ideas of proxy organizations that may or may not be state run that were a part of the action as well as a good overview of what happened.

In the case of Georgia it went kinetic and this is the first real “cyber-warfare” incident in my mind as cyber-war goes. I say this because in my mind unless there is an actual kinetic portion to the fighting there is no “war” it is instead an “action” or “espionage” so in the case of tanks rolling in on Georgia we have a warfare scenario outright that was in tandem with IW/CW actions.


Ah Chairman Meow… What book on Cyber would be complete without our friends at the MSS 3rd Directorate huh? Well in the case of this primer it gets it right. It gets across not only that China has been hacking the living shit out of us but also WHY they are doing it! The book gives a base of information (lots of footnotes and links) to ancillary documentation that will explain the nature of Chinese thought on warfare and more to the point Cyber-Warfare. The Chinese have been working this angle (The Thousand Grains of Sand etc) for a long time now and there are more than a few treatises on it for you to read after finishing this book.

The big cases are in there as well as mention of the malware used, goals of the attacks and some of the key players. If you are out to start teaching about Chinese electronic/cyber/IW then this is a good place to start. Not too heavy but it gets the point across to those who are not so up to speed on the politics, the tech, or the stratagems involved.


Anonymous, as someone on my Twitter feed was just asking me as I was writing this piece, is also a part of this picture as well. The idea of asymmetric online warfare is really embodied by these groups. The book focuses more on Lulzsec and their 50 days of sailing but it doesn’t go too in depth with the derp. Suffice to say that all of them are indeed important to cyber-warfare as we know it and may in fact be the end model for all cyber-warfare. How so? Well, how better to have plausible denyability than to get a non state group to carry out your dirty war? Hell, for that matter how about just blame them and make it look like one of their ops huh?

Oddly enough just days ago Hammond wrote a piece saying this very thing. He intoned that the FBI via Sabu were manipulating the Anon’s into going after government targets. This is not beyond comprehension especially for places like China as well. So this is something to pay attention to. However, this book really did not take that issue on and I really wished that they had. Perhaps in the next updated edition guys?


OY VEY, the “GRID” this is one of the most derpy subjects usually in the media as well as the books/talks/material on cyber-warfare out there. In this case though I will allow what they wrote stand as a “so so” because they make no real claim to an actual apocalypse. Instead the book talks about the possible scenarios of how one could attack the grid. This book makes no claim that it would work but it is something to think about especially if you have an army of trained squirrels with routers strapped to their backs.

It is my belief that the system is too complex to have a systematic fail of apocalypse proportions and it always has been so. If the book talked about maybe creating a series of EMP devices placed at strategic high volume transformers then I would say they’d be on to something. However, that said, the use of a topological attack model was a good one from a logical perspective. They base most of this off of the Chinese grad students paper back years ago so your mileage may vary. So on this chapter I give it a 40% derp.


All in all I would have liked to have seen more in the political area concerning different countries thought patterns on IW/CW but hey, what can ya do eh? Additionally I think more could have been done on the ideas of offense vs. defense. Today I see a lot of derp around how the US has a GREAT OFFENSIVE CAPABILITY! Which for me and many of you out there I assume, leads me to the logical thought conclusion of “GREAT! We are totally offensive but our defense SUCKS!” So much for CYBER-MAD huh?

I would have also like to have seen more in the way of some game theory involved in the book as well concerning cyber-warfare. Some thought experiments would be helpful to lay out the problems within actually carrying out cyber-war as well as potential outcomes from doing so more along the lines of what I saw in the Global Cyber-Game.


Well, in the end I think it is a good start point for people to use this in their syllabus for teaching IW/CW today. It is a primer though and I would love to see not only this end up on the list but also the Global Cyber Game as well to round out the ideas here. To me it is more about “should we do this?” as opposed to “LETS FUCKING DO THIS!” as the effects of doing so are not necessarily known. Much of this territory is new and all too much of it is hyped up to the point of utter nonsense. This is the biggest problem we have though, this nonsense level with regard to the leaders of the land not knowing anything about it and then voting on things.

We need a more informed populace as well as government and I think this book would be a good start. So to the person who asked me to review this..

Put it in the syllabus!


The Global Cyber Game

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The Global Cyber Game:

I had been meaning to write about this before when I had originally read the text but things got in the way as usual (work, more work, some more work after that, Defcon/Bsides) Now though I am in a space where I can reflect back on this paper and write about it here for you all to see. The Defence Academy (UK) put this together to describe how we might approach “cyberwar” on the level of game play or game theory. They constructed a board and began to set to the task of creating game play and tactics given certain scenarios in the cyber world. (see image of game board below) You can actually play this game if you create a board from this design and work within the rules of game theory but this is not why I find this treatise so important.


What I find most interesting is the actual scenario’s that play out within the game play as well as the end game status that the paper puts it all down to in the end of N-Utopia and N-Dystopia. As one can gather from the inherent meaning of the words, N-Utopia means that we all work out our problems globally and work on bettering society (which in the Nash equations is the best play) or we end up with N-Dystopia, a Balkanization of the net, and warfare that scales all levels up to kinetic and will be the death of us all. Can you guess where I think we are right now on the N-scale? Yes, you’d be right to lean toward the N-Dystopia area. In fact I would even like to see that idea rendered in a new way with an older iconography, that being the Doomsday Clock analogy. Perhaps someone can take that up online and create one for the cyebrwarz eh?

Power Dimensions:

What must be taken into account in the great cyber game is that all of this is centered around power plays. The use of information as power, the use of information to effect actions vis a vis “power” and the varying types of power that are being wielded by the players. This paper covers this idea pretty well and should be required reading for anyone looking to study cyber-warfare along side Clausewitz and other more well known pieces of doctrine. Some however may already be familiar with the ideas of hard and soft power but let’s take that into the electronic warfare arena which is a bit harder to scope today.

  • Hard power
    • Overt threats and rewards
    • Kinetic action
    • Coercion
  • Soft power
    • Cooperation
    • Co-Option

Both of these types of dynamic play off of one another and work in tandem. There actually is a whole spectrum of power plays that can be derived from these basic premises but I will not go into all that here. To date I have seen an abundance of hard power tactics being employed on the game board and I fear that that seems to be what the governments of the world have locked on to as their aegis. I would love for more to try the soft power tactics and methods but I am too much of a realist to hope that it will ever really happen.

The game play today that we are all seeing unfold before us is the hard power of Stuxnet or the ramping up of every piece of malware and 0day conceivable being purchased by the US government or others in an effort to be superior when the battle comes. That is though when they are not using those said same exploits in the darker games of realpolitik that they are prosecuting now. As I see it now we are hurtling towards a massive cyberfail of our own making and the real cost of the bad play will be economies around the world and other collateral damage that may not be an apocalypse as we currently understand them to be.

The power dimensions portion of this paper is quite enlightening and you should broaden the scope of how those plays are made with information and the internet. One must understand the playing field as well as the weapon you wield. This is the main problem I have of late is that all too many people and governments are not understanding the game play, the field of play, nor the tools they are using (pieces) well enough to play the game well. This makes not only for bad play, but in this game there are real world consequences for us all when some government or actor does something immensely stupid.

Cyber Games Today:

So what are we seeing today that has me worried? Well, we have the cybergames with Stuxnet and other malware to start. I liken the release of Stuxnet as skin to the release of a biotoxin or virus that eventually will be re-worked or manipulated into a more fearsome weapon. These are not one use tools, they are in fact re-usable and re-tune-able. Once these things are out there is no controlling them and with the idea of Stuxnet you have something that was used against one target but could affect hundreds more in friendly countries if they had the same configuration.

Another cybergame being played today is the new surveillance state that we find ourselves in. It seems in the case of the US we have people who are interpreting our Constitution to suit their needs under the rubric of protecting the homeland. This cybergame is all about information and the power dimension of controlling it. I have been watching this Snowden affair unfold and frankly I am frightened of the capabilities that the NSA has but I am much more scared that they claim that they are protecting us while a Snowden subverts the very systems they are saying cannot be misused. This particular cybergame when looked at, show’s all of the hard and soft power dimensions at play with the media and the law. This should also be brought into the cyber game play as well.

Yet another cybergame going on is within the public/private sector and I call the “Patriot Games” What I mean by this is that we have non state actors playing rolls of asymmetric warriors online to effect whatever change they see fit. A certain un-named clown for one is a primary actor in this space and really started the trend in my opinion. The cybergamers here are vigilantes nothing more and nothing less and may or may not have an effect on the grander scheme of things on the net and in public policy. For the most part however, these players are on the hard power end of the spectrum and thus just mostly come off as thugs.

Lastly, the cybergame that seems to be the one with the most chance of playing in the larger space is that of Anonymous. Anonymous has been able to leverage many players into semi cogent action and could in the future have a real effect on policy and other dimensions within the cybergame play. The only reason that I place Anon into this game is because of that mobilizing force that they seem to carry. If motivated and able to be cohesive enough this group could affect the greater games being played and have on a microcosmic scale thus far in recent history.

In all, the games that are being played, and they are games, all serve as a means to an end for those paying attention to understand and perhaps help those in the seat of power how not to play the game at all. Our petty squabbling on the internet is just that. The reality is that the net is important and much of our lives today require it to run smoothly but if the net were to go down permanently our society would not utterly collapse. We would survive and we would re-build. The question then becomes would we have learned from it and do things better the next time around?

Cyber-Utopia and Cyber-Dystopia:

The idea of Cyber-Utopia is a far fetched one in my mind and probably many others out there. This would be a great thing if we could make it happen but given the petty nature of our.. well nature.. We will only see this ideal wash up on the rocks and sink into the ocean rather quickly. In the Cyber-Utopia we all work together, we cooperate, and we work towards a better day. … And I just don’t see this happening barring some kind of alien intervention frankly.

Cyber-Dystopia though I am afraid is already the case in many respects. We are seeing an almost Balkanization of the internet today as it is never mind the games being played in reality with Stuxnet and cyberwar. If the N-Dystopia comes to pass we will find ourselves at war with each other constantly in a “cyberworld” much like the episode of STOS “A Taste of Armageddon”  where all warfare is carried out via computer simulations and only the casualties report to be disintegrated as a means to balance it all out. Today though we will see attacks on economies as well as infrastructures to effect “war” (economic, political, or other) on our enemies and the real world costs will have to be measured in profit loss or perhaps even actual loss of human life.

The cyber-dystopia though is more than just an outcome of war. It is the outcome from our own inabilities to work with each other and our ability to rationalize warfare through a non apocalyptic destruction of life. It will be a tit for tat war of attrition that will not lead to any clear victories and certainly not elevate our societies in any way and that is the sad truth of it. Ladies and gents we are already in the dystopia. We just may not understand that yet.

Understand the game:

So, I leave you with the paper: The Global Cyber Game pull it down and read it. Learn from it, play the game if you like, and spend some time thinking about it all. We are on the cusp of another evolution in our society that we have seen repeated in every other evolution we have had. We create something, then we weaponize it. Perhaps if more of us understand it and the pitfalls we can prevent the N-Dystopia from becoming any worse.


The Emperor Is NAKED

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gedh gedh gedh gedh gedh gedh


Last week a report came out on Wired about how the ACE (Army Corps of Engineers) database was hacked by China and “sensitive” dam data was taken.. By China, let that sink in for a bit as there was no real attribution data in the story. Anyway, aside from the BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA headlines I had to wonder just how hard it was for these “Chinese” hackers to get in and steal the all important super secret DAM data. Given the nature of this type of site and the groups involved in generating, managing, and *cough* protecting it, I had a feeling that it would be rather easy to get the information without having to be uberleet. Sure enough a quick Google Fu session showed me how easy it was to just bypass the login and password scheme as a proof of concept. You can see from the picture at the top of the page that you can just download what you like there (16 meg on dams alone) just by clicking a link on Google and then the link on the page that is not supposed to be served out without authentication.

*I feel so secure now*

So yeah, there you have it and I still cannot understand how the media types paid no attention to my attempts to make them aware of this little factoid. See, here’s the thing kids, I didn’t go any further. Nor did I download the 16 meg file because, well, no one else wants to be Aaron Swartz right? I am sure they could even try to squash my nuts over this post alone but hey, I am sick of the bullshit stories of China hacking our shit when in reality all one need do is GOOGLE the information. This is not to say that this information here is the SAME information that was allegedly stolen by China, but it is a PROOF OF CONCEPT that the site, EVEN TODAY is still insecure and leaking information without authentication!! (yes above pic was taken today via a tor node) So, when I stopped there one has to continue to wonder if you looked further and enumerated more of the site by directory walk could you in fact get even more access?

Feel the derp burn…


Meanwhile back in the hallowed halls of Congress and the Pentagon we have reports coming out in pdf that China is hacking our shit to gain a better “war footing” by taking such data as what this story is all about. DAMS COULD BE BLOWN! WATER COULD LEAK! LIVES LOST! yadda yadda yadda. If you were to take it seriously then one would think that SECOPS demands that this data would be classified and protected per classification. Obviously it wasn’t given the access that you see above as well as the alleged password issue that the hack was allegedly predicated on in the Wired article. But I digress.. I am meaning to talk about China… Yes, so the DOD puts out a report that is subtly saying that no longer are the Chinese only looking to steal IP but now they are looking for ways to stalemate us in war.


NO WAY! Like we aren’t doing the same thing everywhere else as well? Derp! Look, it’s only natural that they would be doing so and their doctrine says as much. Just go take a read of their doctrine on all things cybery and you will see that the domination of the infoscape is really important to them. We have only been paying attention for a little while now and we have catching up to do! Alas though, not all roads lead to China so really, I would love to see some attribution on this alleged hack on the dam data when one, once again, could just GOOGLE that shit up. As they say on the internets.. “Pictures or it didn’t happen!”


So here we are again. Our cybers are FAIL and the news media perpetuates more FAIL with their non depth articles on the problem. Maybe China stole some dam data. BIG WHOOP. The real story is that the site that it came from and the people watching it are not paying attention to the cyberz. Their clue phone is broken! They do not know how to “Internet” and it is just another derpy hype cycle in the media that allows China to be blamed for our own stupidity. I swear somewhere there is a Chinese guy laughing like Chumley rolling on the ground over this.

Smell our own fail kids… And weep.


Written by Krypt3ia

2013/05/08 at 16:05

Thoughts On Being Asked “How Do I Get Into INFOSEC?”

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So You Want To Get Into INFOSEC Huh?

I got a request through a friend for a friend of that friends kid to talk to him about how to get into INFOSEC the other day. Now usually I am a curmudgeon (as you all know and love) and am loathe to be some sort of big brother of INFOSEC to anyone but in this case I said ok cuz I am just that nice. After some email wrangling we finally got together today (scant minutes ago actually) and now feel an obligatory blog post on the subject of getting into the business coming on …And there it is …Feel the burn…

So after agreeing to a time to meet I began to wonder just what I would say to this kid as to how to get into the business. For that matter I really wondered if I should encourage him at all to get into INFOSEC in the first place. My mind started to ponder why I was in it still and just how if at all it was rewarding given all that I have seen and still deal with on a daily basis. Often times my daily job sends me in to apoplectic fits that you all see in my blog posts and on twitter screeds of 140 characters at a clip so I imagine all of you out there might not think that I enjoy my work on average. On the whole though I would say that I do enjoy my work but I would caution anyone looking to get into this business to take a deep look at their abilities and their coping mechanisms before they took the plunge.

My conversation with this guy (in his 30’s) covered a range of things but I mainly focused on just how technical he was if at all and what he thought he wanted out of pursuing a career in INFOSEC. It turned out that he was not that technical and had only just started taking a course at the local community college on Python. It was at that opening moment that I knew this kid would have a long road ahead of him and made that as abundantly clear as I could without being a complete and utter bastard. Basically, in your 30’s and without any technical background you will have quite the uphill battle to become proficient not only in the technologies but also the applications of security to those technologies. So I had to scale back a bit and impress upon him that he needed to learn quite a bit to start and that maybe he should just look for a gig in desktop support first after some time in with school.

At the end of the conversation I had laid out all of the issues for him up to the point of the level of frustration we all have in this business from end users to C levels that don’t listen. Soup to nuts I laid it bare and in the end did in fact say that one needed to take up drinking to cope on average. I told him that the allure of the movies is great but in reality there is a lot more drudgery and that he should expect to spend a lot of time studying, practicing, playing, and generally hacking even to get a gig as a vulnerability scanner or a Sox auditor. This at least would be my ideal for anyone looking to get involved in true security work but unfortunately we all see too many people out there running a Nessus scan and passing a canned report to a client as BAU.

Despite all of this I do not think I dissuaded to disabused him of his desires and will be sending him some tutorials and links to sites/books for him to begin the great RTFM of security. I guess time will tell if he can eventually land a gig and be a productive INFOSEC wonk. Until then, I guess I am a sort of tough love big INFOSEC brother..

I hope he can handle the tough love…

So here are my thoughts about all of this for those who also are asking the question of how to get into and staying in INFOSEC.


First Principles 

  • You have to be fascinated with the subject matter.. This is not just a job, like any career you have to love what you do otherwise why bother?
  • You have to be technically capable of understanding a great deal of technologies if you aren’t and are not interested don’t bother
  • You have to have an innate offensive mindset to be a good INFOSEC professional (if you aren’t thinking like the adversary you will lose the battle and the war)
  • To be a good defensive INFOSEC professional you have to have the offensive mindset as well (once again, think like the adversary or lose the war)
  • You have to be able to study things and be readily able to take the initiative to look things up
  • You have to be a tinkerer always playing with things
  • Overall you need to have initiative because even if you take a course it will not prepare you for everything
  • Don’t be just another fool with a tool, you need to go outside the box and once again play with things and understand them.. Then abuse them
  • Don’t expect to be an uber l33t haxx0r just because you hit start on Metasploit
  • Be diligent and do a good job no matter the scale of the project.. Half assed is just that and will end in epic fail
  • Nowadays you can get a CISSP and get a job.. This does not make you a good INFOSEC practitioner though
  • It is easier today to locate actual classes on security and hacking so avail yourselves of them ON TOP OF playing at home

Expectations and Realities

  • Expect and be able to handle clients in a professional way
  • Expect and be able to handle small scopes and reticence on the part of clients to fix vulnerabilities you show them as they might break their businesses to do so
  • Expect that all end users are not usually cluefull in the ways of computing and will easily click on your malware/phish email (offense)
  • Expect that all end users are not usually cluefull and will click on malware/phishing emails and thus start an incident that YOU will have to clean up (defense)
  • Expect to be told “No” a lot
  • Expect fits of rage and bile because the executives will not want to follow the security measures that you tell them they need to as policy
  • Expect to have to socially engineer said C level executives to have a modicum of security by tricking them into secure behaviors
  • Expect that your employers will not fund your going to conferences
  • Expect your security budgets to be secondary in concern if not tertiary to the C level executives until they get pwnd hard and in the news
  • Expect human nature to be the primary cause of your security incidents and failures in the enterprise (problem between keyboard and chair)
  • Expect long hours
  • Expect to be travelling 100% of the time if you are in a pentest position
  • Expect that 3am call when your enterprise has been compromised and expect to get up, log in, and begin IR
  • Expect that your network is already compromised
  • Accept that you will never know everything and should always be willing to learn
  • Expect and accept the blank stares you will get from EU’s and C levels when you explain to them the security ramifications of things you discover
  • Expect and accept the blank stares you will get from EU’s and C Levels when you tell them that they have to comply with policy and process
  • Expect that you will have to at some point not only audit but also create policies and procedures for someone somewhere
  • Accept this previous fact as just that and get past being an elitist wanna be pentester and do a good job at the policy side of things too
  • Accept that there is more to life than pentesting
  • Every day you have to unplug and have a real life outside of INFOSEC with other interests than just pwnage
  • Expect to be well rounded and a human being able to converse with others outside of the hacking/INFOSEC world
  • Expect to be frustrated every god damned day and be able to handle that without going insane
  • Expect that you will fail no matter how hard you try and that failure is not the end of all things

Well.. I think I ran out of steam there but you catch the drift right? It takes a certain kind of person to be a good INFOSEC professional just as much as it takes work. Do it if you love it… Otherwise what’s the point?


Written by Krypt3ia

2013/04/12 at 19:03

Posted in Infosec