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It Takes More Than a Decoder Ring

Posted December 6, 2011    Marc Maiffret

This week I was invited to lend my “expert thoughts” on a recent news piece on a UK intelligence agency which has opened up their hiring practices to include an online code cracking competition.  The team over at CNN’s Situation Room thought this was an interesting concept and invited me in for a quick discussion. While my 10 seconds on camera doesn’t really spell out the entire story, I thought I’d do a quick blog post to give my thoughts on the subject. You can check out the entire video here.

 While the concept itself is interesting, I think this mostly gimmick recruitment campaign highlights a larger issue that countries like ours (and clearly the UK) have, in that our universities are not  graduating students with Computer Science degrees that have security as a major component to them. Clearly this isn’t due to lack of awareness.  With Stuxnet, Duqu, Aurora, even Morto (ya, even Morto) in the news every day, why isn’t this an area of instruction?

At the recent Republican debates, cyber security was highlighted as a critical infrastructure issue, but in reality there is the very real issue of  not having enough skilled, educated people to help secure or analyze the systems, data and angles that are required to keep our country safe.  This probably won’t be solved by a decoder-ring type of contest, but rather real and substantive instruction.  For a while, we’ve heard how the US often lags in math and sciences as fields of study;  as they are closely related, I feel that we’ll be having the same discussions soon around security expertise.

During a really interesting time in my life, my mom made a comment to a certain set of authority figures that “hackers” like me were soon to be America’s greatest natural resource and that we should be properly educated and coached.  This type of contest makes me think she knew exactly what she was talking about.

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Additional articles

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How to Audit VMware ESX and ESXi Servers Against the VMware Hardening Guidelines with Retina CS

Posted February 27, 2015    BeyondTrust Research Team

Retina CS Enterprise Vulnerability Management has included advanced VMware auditing capabilities for some time, including virtual machine discovery and scanning through a cloud connection, plus the ability to scan ESX and ESXi hosts using SSH. However, in response to recent security concerns associated with SSH, VMware has disabled SSH by default in its more recent…

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Privileged Passwords: The Bane of Security Professionals Everywhere

Posted February 19, 2015    Dave Shackleford

Passwords have been with us since ancient times. Known as “watchwords”, ancient Roman military guards would pass a wooden tablet with a daily secret word engraved from one shift to the next, with each guard position marking the tablet to indicate it had been received. The military has been using passwords, counter-passwords, and even sound…

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In Vulnerability Management, Process is King

Posted February 18, 2015    Morey Haber

You have a vulnerability scanner, but where’s your process? Most organizations are rightly concerned about possible vulnerabilities in their systems, applications, networked devices, and other digital assets and infrastructure components. Identifying vulnerabilities is indeed important, and most security professionals have some kind of scanning solution in place. But what is most essential to understand is…

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