by adam on June 10, 2011
Over at Risky.biz, Patrick Grey has an entertaining and thought-provoking article, “Why we secretly love LulzSec:”
LulzSec is running around pummelling some of the world’s most powerful organisations into the ground… for laughs! For lulz! For shits and giggles! Surely that tells you what you need to know about computer security: there isn’t any.
And I have to admit, I’m taking a certain amount of pleasure in watching LulzSec. Whoever’s doing it are actually entertaining, when they’re not breaking the law. And even sometimes when they are. But at those times, they’re hurting folks, so it’s a little harder to chortle along.
Now Patrick’s argument is in the close, and I don’t want to ruin it, but I will:
So why do we like LulzSec?
“I told you so.”
The essence of this argument is that we in security have been telling management for a long time that things are broken, and we’ve been ignored. We poor, selfless martyrs. If only we’d been given the budget, we would have implemented a COBIT ISO27001 best practices program of making users leap through flaming hoops before they got their job done, and none of this would ever have happened. We here in the business of defending our organizations would love to have been effective, except we weren’t, and now we’re mother-freaking cheering a bunch of kids who can’t even spell LOL? Really? I told you so? Is that the best that we as a community will do?
We’re being out-communicated by folks who can’t spell.
Why are we being out-communicated? Because we expect management to learn to understand us, rather than framing problems in terms that matter to them. We come in talking about 0days, whale pharts, cross-site request jacking and a whole alphabet soup of things whose impact to the business are so crystal clear obvious that they go without saying.
And why are we being out-communicated? Because every time there’s a breach, we cover it up. We claim it wasn’t so bad. Or maybe that the poor, hapless American citizen will get tired of hearing about the breaches. And so we’re left with the Lulz crowd breaking and entering for shits and giggles to demonstrate that there are challenges in making things secure.
I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but maybe we should start talking openly about breaches instead. Maybe then, we’d get somewhere without needing to see Sony, PBS, and Infraguard attacked. Heck, maybe if we talked about breaches, one or more of those organizations would have learned from the pain of others.
Let’s just wait for “the world’s leaders in high-quality entertainment at your expense” to let us say I told you so.
It sure is easier than admitting our communications were sub-par.
[Thanks for the many good comments! I've written a follow-up post on the topic of communication, "Communicating with Executives for more than Lulz."]