Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Brave New War

I just finished reading Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization by John Robb. It takes a pretty interesting fellow to weave terrorism and the Iraqi insurgency with Eric Raymonds Cathedral And the Bazaar not to mention brief tangents to Bill Joy's grey goo, Bruce Schneier's brittle security, and Ray Kurzweil's Law of Accelerating Returns. And that's just the obvious stuff a typical geek would pick up. Also sprinkled throughout the book are references to military doctrine, economics, globalization, and biology.
The guy bounces around in first person like an over caffeinated blogger. And I'm certain that's the intention; his description of how he see's the world is startingly moving the online lifestyle to current events and trends. I have never put a critical eye to the whole opensource movement as a symptom of an advance of technology as opposed to a collection of bearded geeks revolting against a system. Robb puts up a strong argument for the former.

The book itself is broken up into three sections. The first section reiterates the amplifying affect of technology to individuals power to cause disorder. In the second part Robb lays out the exact makeup of 4GW, systems disruption, and other specific ideas such as global guerrillas and open-source warfare. At about this time is when I kept my laptop on my lap to keep up with the various footnotes (a decent amount of references are freely available online). Finally the third section attempts to explain the black market eco system as well as Robb's solutions to rebalance sides.

As an aside to the last section: I was a bit suprised he didn't tie in his idea of "Platforms" and open source together. From his definition opensource is an perfect example of a platform and yet he left it go unsaid.

The book itself ended with two pages of Further Reading. He is truly after my heart.

Google notebook

I just discovered google notebook. I've previously relied on starring rss feeds of note but that didn't help for non-rss content. I don't do bookmarks because I find no value in them; they have no context around the link.
It's easy, context oriented, and I love it. The paranoid in me wishes an open source version existed that I could both house on my own site and use SSL. (quick search showed no real results for such a beast). Oh well.

Monday, September 10, 2007


A few weeks ago I saw LTC John Nagl on the Daily Show which was entertaining and interesting but it was forgotten rather quickly as I'm not exactly a .mil kind of guy. I even saw the book he was touting at b&n today (I special ordered Brave New War and Demolished Man) but didn't touch it due the potential for the acronym induced boredom it had.

And boy was I right. I discovered via Danger Room that the manual Nagl and Stewart hyped is freely available for download in PDF. Of course COIN stands for COunter INsurgency while FM stands for Field Manual. I know this because it's in the glossary.

I only skimmed the FM and looked at the appendix and specifically the summaries at the end of each chapter. With that said, there are some very hip quotes that can be applied to infosec that put Sun Tzu to shame:

They [insurgents] also will do anything to preserve their greatest advantage, the ability to hide among the people. These amoral and often barbaric enemies survive by their wits, constantly adapting to the situation. Defeating them requires counterinsurgents to develop the ability to learn and adapt rapidly and continuously. This manual emphasizes this "Learn and Adapt" imperative as it discusses ways to gain and maintain the support of the people.

In this context I like to think of "the people" as users of a network. Certainly hackers do not work to gain support of users, but it should be a high priority for any security team.

One more just because it's so easy and fun:

President John F. Kennedy noted, "You [military professionals] just know something about strategy and tactics and...logistics, but also economics and politics and diplomacy and history. You must know everything you can know about military power, and you must also understand the limits of military power. You must understand that few of the important problems of our time have...been finally solved by military power alone." Nowhere is this insight more relevant than in COIN. Successful COIN efforts require unity
of effort in bringing all instruments of national power to bear. Civilian agencies can contribute directly to military operations, particularly by providing information.

Certainly strat and tactics apply to security operations but economics and politics can also translate to the business drivers/politics and a necessary understanding of the core business. Or maybe I have a certain affinity towards JFK quotes.

It's worth a skim and maybe some in-depth reading.

I'm professional

I received the official certification for the CISSP last week. I'm not a big cert guy (this is my first cert) but I did like the exam itself. I like how it makes a solid baseline. Will everybody with this cert understand the contents of the exam? No, but they can be expected to. That's really the point isn't it? Setting expectations.

I'm married to a public school teacher and when this sort of thing (re: education) comes up she says I'm great at it. I immediately respond back that I'm horrible at education, especially when it comes to a structured process such as book reading or syllabus-type courses. Instead my brain darts around between various books/articles/subjects and I leave it at that. I bring this up because I did near-zero studying for this class. Not because I'm not motivated (though that's possible!) but because learning with a specific short term goal in mind really turns me off. I read for the joy of learning, not cramming. That's why I took a bootcamp course the week before the test. I shoved a lot of facts into my head for 12 hour days 6 days before the exam.

(I gotta admit that I did feel like Mitch.)

Either way, I dig the idea of the CISSP and the fact that I'm now a card carrying member; but more importantly I liked the cramming itself. Maybe I'm not bad at syllabus' but at motivation after all.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

shmoocon '08

shmoocon updated their site for 08's gig:

TSG is happy to announce that ShmooCon '08 will take place at the Wardman Park Marriott in Washington DC, February 15-17.

We're working on updating the website and getting information pushed out to the masses. Presentations are finally linked to (although they've been up for awhile - a number of you found them without any help) and moved into the Past Events section. Keep watching over the next few weeks as we get ready to release the CFP, announce contests and generally get the ball rolling for ShmooCon IV.

I've been to all three so far and have no plans on stopping anytime soon. Yep, I'm one of the dorks who sat around on New Years Day last year and F5'ed the page until I got tickets.

e-discovery processes

I just found the law.com's e-discovery roadmap which is based on the edrm project. Indeed, the law.com's e-discovery site in general looks decent and was immediately added to my blogroll.

I love FRCP 34b. No insightful comments; the roadmap is simply the most indepth process cycle i've seen yet and is worth it's weight in gold considering how new the entire thing is.

Unless you want to rely on your vendor to define your processes.