Your Fly Is Open

Netmenaces and Other Internet Stupidity

Cool little round pebbles

2021-03-14 3 min read technology

We live, essentially, in the middle of nowhere. We’re surrounded by farm fields that are lined with fence-rows of scrub trees, tall grass, and rocks. There’s lots of wildlife around here - squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, skunks and foxes. At night, we often hear packs of coyotes howling as they run through the nearby fields.

We have a fenced in area around our pool. When the temperature falls and small critters start looking for a place to hunker down before the snow flies, sometimes they land inside our fence.

It’s a pretty awesome place for them to winter over. Lots of plants and bushes for cover. And then there’s the fence: bars spaced wide enough for small critters to pass through but narrow enough to keep the coyotes out.

Every few winters, the rabbits move in…

The problem with the rabbits is twofold: they tend to eat plants and then they… well… they poop.

A pair of rabbits produces an amazing amount of poop.

This past weekend, my grandsons were over visiting. My wife and I were working outside by the pool, doing some early spring cleanup and the kids were running around, being… well… kids.

Out of the blue, my youngest grandson came running up to my wife and held out his hand to show her something.

“Look, Grandma," he proudly declared, “I found a bunch of cool little round pebbles…!"

We have a problem in the security industry. (To be fair, it’s a problem with the whole technology sector in general, although the security industry probably represents the worst of the worst.)

If it’s shiny, if it’s new, if it’s tagged with any of the buzzword techno-concepts du jour - we want it. Currently, if you slap “machine learning,” “AI,” or “blockchain” onto any old-school tech, you’ll likely have to swat away the customers like flies - whether using those technologies makes sense or not.

That’s why I’m particularly proud of the work that I do with Counter Hack. We do our best to integrate buzzword tech into the challenges that we create - so folks have an opportunity to work with those technologies and a gain hands-on understanding of what they’re really all about. As an example, for the SANS 2020 Holiday Hack Challenge I worked with my elf pal Qwerty Petabyte (who teaches at Elf University at the North Pole) to put together a blockchain challenge.

We get a lot of feedback from the folks who play Holiday Hack. While I absolutely love hearing people tell us about how they use Holiday Hack to introduce their kids or their spouse to the technologies they work with in their day jobs, there’s one type of email that really makes me smile. It makes me incredible happy when someone says, “I’ve heard so much hype about blockchain but I never really knew what it was about. Now I actually understand how it works."

Knowledge - especially knowledge gained through spending hands-on time with a technology - is the best antidote our industry has to this problem. Otherwise, we’ll just keep flouncing along after the newest and shiniest gewgaw the vendors churn out.

Because, in many ways, we’re like children following the Pied Piper - listening to the music being played - just wanting to get our hands on the newest, coolest things we see.

But sometimes, those cool little round pebbles you find, will just turn out to be rabbit poop…

Tom Liston
Owner, Principal Consultant
Bad Wolf Security, LLC
Twitter: @tliston
March 15, 2020