Secrets of a Veteran Consultant

Monday, 15 April 2013 14:31 Written by
Secrets of a Veteran Consultant

After many years of professional consulting — serving stakeholders from the server room to the board room — I moved into management and encountered fresh perspective. I learned things that I wished someone had told me early in my career. I became a stakeholder and ate the proverbial dogfood. And along the way, I learned things that are worth sharing. I hope these “secrets” resonate with someone (as I believe they would have resonated with me 20 years ago).

Leaders and managers in organizations wear many hats. While not an exhaustive list, they are the visionaries, facilitators, mentors, investigators, advocates, and of course, decision-makers. As a manager of security consultants, one of my roles was to optimize the delivery of (consultant) value to core business stakeholders. It is always a risk in consulting that value and cost can become conflated during delivery. The cost side of the balance sheet is all about measuring what you want to influence.  However, insuring that value is always well represented can be more challenging.  So I set out to explore why leaders and managers among my stakeholders and peers were not more fully engaging our consultants.

The simplicity and candor of these secrets may surprise you...

America's Most Profitable

Sunday, 05 May 2013 11:23 Written by
America's Most Profitable

Successful companies frequently rely heavily on just one product for the majority of their sales and profit. Because each product represents such an outsized share of their respective company’s revenue, the products’ tremendous margins are the foundation of the company’s profit.  The most profitable products tend to rely on the power of their brand, which can command a premium price and sell extraordinary numbers of units.

These products are the most profitable for several reasons. Nearly all of them are the market leader in their sector and are mass produced at an unprecedented scale. As a result, the companies can apply significant pressure up and down their supply chain, ensuring they can manufacture the product at the lowest cost, and sell it to customers at the highest possible price.

What are the most profitable?  And why...

Are You Smart on the Higgs Boson?

Friday, 15 March 2013 13:33 Written by
Are You Smart on the Higgs Boson?

Scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, announced yesterday that they’re even more certain than they were last summer (like, more than 99.999999999 percent sure) that they've seen a Higgs boson particle—even if it’s not the Higgs boson particle.

Why does it even matter? Well, let's start with, this is a discovery that could potentially change our entire understanding of how the universe works. So, to avoid being a complete nub on this issue, what do you need to know and what can you say if someone brings up the subject?

Romney and Obama MobiApps Threaten Your Privacy

Saturday, 01 September 2012 10:58 Written by
Romney and Obama MobiApps Threaten Your Privacy

John Leyden at The Register reports that security experts uncovered privacy concerns in mobile applications available from both the Barack Obama and Mitt Romney presidential campaigns. Researchers at GFI Software examined the Android versions of both products and are alarmed at the invasive nature of the offerings.

Obama for America and Mitt’s VP request permissions, access to services and data and demonstrate capabilities beyond product expectations.  Each of the apps cross-posts on users' behalf and report back to base.  More alarmingly, both apps slurp the details of users' contacts and log location data. The Romney app even requests permission to record audio for unspecified purposes.

Ogres disrupt the workplace...

Thursday, 24 May 2012 17:42 Written by
Ogres disrupt the workplace...

Ogres can exist at any level in an organization.

Are you an ogre? Do you know an ogre? Ogres come from many backgrounds and can be any color, gender, belief system, or orientation. But ogres are easy to spot. What gives them away? Perhaps, it is the Ogres' lack of etiquette in the office place. Or is it the ogres' dysfunctional (or broken) ethical compass. Whether you are an Ogre or the victim of an Ogre, there are five Ogre specific disruptors of performance you should look out for that will negatively affect you and your stakeholders...

Banking Malware Hijacks Webcams and Microphones

Wednesday, 23 May 2012 10:50 Written by
Banking Malware Hijacks Webcams and Microphones

A new variant of SpyEye malware allows cybercriminals to monitor potential bank fraud victims by hijacking their Web cams and microphones, according to security researchers from Kaspersky Lab May 21. SpyEye is a computer trojan that specifically targets online banking users.

Like its older cousin, Zeus, SpyEye is no longer being developed by its original author but is still widely used by cybercriminals. SpyEye’s plug-in-based architecture allows third-party malware developers to extend its original functionality, a Kaspersky Lab malware researcher said.

DHS Questions Security of ISC

Friday, 11 May 2012 17:32 Written by
DHS Questions Security of ISC

Operators of America’s power, water, and manufacturing facilities use industrial control systems (ICS) to manage them. However, the security of these systems, increasingly linked with Microsoft Windows and the Internet, is now under intense scrutiny because of growing awareness that they could be attacked and cause massive disruptions.

Industrial facility operators are making efforts to follow security procedures, such as using vulnerability-assessment scanning tools to check for needed patches in Windows. That said, ICS environments present special problems, said managers who spoke on the topic at a conference organized by the DHS.

Rinzai Zen - Fujaku, fugu.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012 12:03 Written by
Rinzai Zen - Fujaku, fugu.

"Where should your mind be kept?  If your mind is not fixed anywhere it will pervade throughout the body... If your mind is fixed on a certain spot, it will be seized by that spot, and no activities can be performed efficiently. Not to fix your mind anywhere is essential. Not fixed anywhere, the mind is everywhere."

  • Study Zen -- one discovers the key to all forms of Buddhism.
  • Practice Zen -- one's life is brought to fulfillment in the attainment of enlightenment.

‘Steam Cracker’ Steals User Credentials

Saturday, 21 April 2012 11:44 Written by
‘Steam Cracker’ Steals User Credentials

Users of Valve’s Steam game sales and distribution platform are being targeted by malware peddlers; the lure is a "Steam Cracker." It is being offered on YouTube and on many gamer forums, and it supposedly gives the users access to all games for free.

The scammers offer simple instructions for installing the software: disable antivirus software and firewall, then replace the original steam.exe file with the downloaded, cracked one. "The file in question is a fake Steam client, which uses aspects of the real thing but just falls short of being 100 percent convincing (file size, file, and of course the fact that this file isn’t digitally signed unlike the real Steam executable)," a GFI researcher said.

If the user runs Windows Vista or later versions of the platform, the file runs and shows the fake client that looks legitimate.

Wearable Firewall Stops Pacemaker Hacking

Thursday, 19 April 2012 15:10 Written by
Wearable Firewall Stops Pacemaker Hacking

Researchers from Purdue and Princeton universities have developed a solution to what could be catastrophic problem for millions of people who use insulin pumps, pacemakers, and other personal medical devices that rely on wireless communication to function: MedMon — a signal-jamming personal firewall for medical devices that detects potentially malicious communications going into, or coming from, a wearable or implanted device.

After identifying malicious signals, MedMon employs electronic jamming, similar to technology used in military systems, to prevent any potentially harmful wireless commands from getting through to the device and causing it to falter or accept instructions that could cause its wearer harm.

Human Body Vulnerable to Cyberattack

Thursday, 12 April 2012 17:35 Written by
Human Body Vulnerable to Cyberattack

The next frontier of cybercrime could be the human body, a researcher at the Black Hat Security Conference demonstrated. In his presentation, "Hacking Medical Devices for Fun and Insulin: Breaking the Human SCADA System," Jay Radcliffe showed how a hacker could remotely hack two medical devices used to treat diabetes and trigger them to malfunction — with potentially disastrous results.

"Wireless communication with insulin pumps are not secure, they're not designed to be updated and there's no way of patching them," he told the audience. "It's not like a phone, where you can download a firmware update."

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I don't agree with all of this, but it's food for thought. -rw