[Dailydave] The monetization of information insecurity

John Strand john at blackhillsinfosec.com
Tue Sep 9 14:27:07 EDT 2014

Our problem may not be one of better AV/IDS/IPS, but rather an inherent
inability to think of new defensive tactics and technologies.

It is very hard to think beyond the toolsets we currently have and develop
new ideas.

It is even harder to sell it to investors.


On Tue, Sep 9, 2014 at 10:00 AM, Michal Zalewski <lcamtuf at coredump.cx>

> The prehistory of anti-virus software is probably of note. In essence,
> they served as a pretty reasonable solution to a nuisance problem of
> slowly-evolving, long-lived viruses piggybacking on top of legitimate
> executables carried around on floppy disks. There was no pretense of
> providing any security boundaries, and the unique properties of this
> distribution channel meant that you could actually offer users fairly
> clear benefits when exchanging files with trusted parties.
> The progression from that to being a primary defense against security
> attacks on the Internet makes essentially no sense. I think it had to
> do with the entire generation of tech-savvy users and corporate execs
> growing up with this technology and incorrectly assuming that it would
> scale up on the Internet, or that AV companies would be uniquely
> qualified to tackle the problem.
> The more interesting question is why has this myth persisted for so
> long. It probably has to do with several things. For one, AV companies
> made a lot of money and gained a lot of prominence, so they largely
> control the narrative and overcrowd trade shows. There is also a
> strong appeal for startups to imitate their methods and embrace the
> same language.
> Another reason may be that many people just hope for a silver bullet.
> They don't want security to be hard - and they don't want to admit
> that AV software + compliance checklists weren't necessarily the right
> call back in the day (so it's the "threat landscape" that's changing,
> they say). But there are no simple solutions, and if you're hoping for
> some, you're likely to just part with your money and get relatively
> little in return. I mean, the valuation of FireEye peaked at $10B not
> long ago. Flashy threat intelligence (Crowdstrike, 0-day feeds) is
> another popular way to go.
> All in all, I don't think we can avoid repeating the same mistakes
> over and over again. It's a funny industry because you can't really
> measure success by any objective, transparent metric. I'm pretty sure
> that the key to survival is to just have a competent and balanced
> security team, and one that spends more time writing code than
> defining controls for ISO 27001. But that's a tough sell, and given
> the short supply of talent - and the difficulty in evaluating their
> true skill - it is not a viable option for many small businesses.
> So, what can we really give them, instead?
> /mz
> On Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 7:07 AM, dave aitel <dave at immunityinc.com> wrote:
> > So I'm heading to a conference shortly and I was going to promote them in
> > this email but they're apparently not a public conference. I'm on a panel
> > called "Identification of Emerging and Evolving Threats" with some non-US
> > Government people who seem pretty nice.
> >
> > Anyways, now that I've guaranteed myself an exciting visit from security
> > services, I wanted to point out the one question everyone should be
> asking
> > when they go to any conference and a new technology of any kind is
> proposed
> > as any kind of forward movement for defense. And that is this: "How can
> we
> > avoid making the mistake of Anti-Virus" ever again?
> >
> > Because much like the Internet has been hamstrung at birth by the
> parasitic
> > growth of the advertising industry, the information security community
> has
> > been devastated for almost its entire existence by the dominance of
> > anti-virus companies and products which demonstrably haven't worked for
> > almost their entire reign, and in theory never could have scaled. They
> are
> > broken by design. And because they sucked all the money and research and
> > people from the defensive community, no actual defenses were ever created
> > for IT that had a hope of working.
> >
> > So the only question any team of government executives working on defense
> > needs to be thinking about is "How is this different from Anti-Virus in
> the
> > long term? How can we avoid making that mistake ever again?" Because
> until
> > you know how that mistake was made, and can avoid it for the next
> > generation, "Emerging and Evolving" threats will always be beyond your
> power
> > to stop.
> >
> > -dave
> >
> >
> >
> >
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