Inside Cyber Warfare

One year ago, the buzz across the government/technology nexus was focused on a pair of political guessing games. Neophytes mostly engaged in debating over whom the newly-elected President would name to be the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer. Grizzled Pentagon veterans and the more sober Silicon Valley types wondered instead who would get the nod as President Obama’s “Cyber Czar.”

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The Cyber Trough of Disillusionment

I’ll call the moment: the cyber security field is now past its giddy buzzword peak.

Gartner is well known for preparing “hype cycle” analysis of technology sectors, as in their recent publication of the 2009 “Hype Cycle for Social Software.” That report got a lot of attention on Twitter and in blogs, naturally; social medians are nothing if not self-reflective regarding their community. I thought an interesting take was by an IBM developer, who compared the 2008 version against the new one, measuring the changes in predicted “time to maturity” for individual technologies, and thereby coming up with something like a measure of acceleration. By that measure, individual blogging and social search made the most rapid gains.

But I notice something missing on the full list of 79 Gartner hype cycle reports: there’s not one about “cyber security.”

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IPsec, IPv6, and Security at Your House

Just had a great meeting in Redmond introducing some government friends to Steve Riley, one of Microsoft’s “technical evangelists” on security – network, app, data security and most of all, IP security.  He’s great at the big-picture integrated view of security, including physical security right up through the IP stack – here’s a video of a recent talk he gave at Microsoft’s TechNet called “The Fortified Data Center in Your Future.”

Check out his blog and you’ll see the kind of topics he works on; just one example of obvious value is a recent post full of real-world down-to-earth security advice for securing your environment at home (home networking, email use, internet browsing, etc for family and friends).

Oh, he’s also been on Twitter for almost a month now, where he mixes interesting finds on security news with offbeat political commentary 🙂  Yet another example of some of the bright people I meet back at the mothership in Redmond….

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Web Security and New Media in Politics

FACT: The Obama presidential campaign has been lauded for innovative uses of the Web and social media, particularly for fundraising and volunteer recruitment.  But as PC World has just reported, “Two months after their Web site was hacked, the organizers of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign are looking for a network security expert to help lock down their Web site…. Security experts said this is the first time they can remember seeing a Web security job advertised for a political campaign.”

ANALYSIS:  I wrote before about my experience in 1994-95 helping build one of the Internet’s first political campaign websites – I designed the content and wrote much of it, for Mayor Frank Jordan of San Francisco.  (The pages were literally built and posted by mayoral son Thomas Jordan, by the way, who was then a college student at UC-Berkeley; he went on to great things at Pixar.)   At the time, with such a simple site, we didn’t have to worry much about security – or so we thought, and luckily the worst scandal in those early years involved domain-squatting by certain rival campaigns.

As PC World points out, though, “Obama’s Web site, built by Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes, has been the model of Web 2.0 campaigning, using social-networking techniques to raise funds and build a broad base of active, Internet-savvy supporters. But security experts have long warned that powerful Web site features also open new avenues for attack.”

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