Don’t be too impressed with Snowden’s “ethical hacking training”

I saw this new headline regarding Edward Snowden, discussing his NSA hacking training. Don’t be impressed.

For several years, I lived in that same world Snowden lived in. I’ve gone out of my way to avoid mentioning this, but from 2005-2012, I was a consultant. I worked for several different companies, due to contracts changing hands and companies merging, but my client was the United States Air Force. And from 2011-2012, I even had direct dealings with the NSA. I attended NSA meetings in the Washington, D.C. area. I received NSA training–in person–in a security discipline called threat modeling. My job was to represent NSA to the Air Force three weeks out of the month, and represent the Air Force to the NSA on the fourth week.

Just don’t ask me anything about UFOs. Unlike some people, I didn’t snoop around on classified networks. Whenever possible, didn’t look at the data at all. If I had to look at data, I preferred to look at dummy data. If I actually did look at real, honest-to-goodness classified data, it was because I needed to know that information to do my job. I was a pretty good contractor, I think.

I also know about this training that Snowden put on his resume. Read more

The old days of viruses

Blogging pioneer John Dominik, inspired by my Michelangelo memories, wrote about his memories of viruses later in the decade. So now I’ll take inspiration of him and share my memories of some of those viruses. I searched my archives, and at the time it was going on, I didn’t write a lot. I was tired and angry, as you can tell from the terse posts I did write.

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A cloud computing-related Security+ question

Someone tossed a Security+ study question my way this week. This is an example of Security+ trying to be CISSP Lite, but it’s still a valid question–probably for either test, and for SSCP and CISM too.

A small not-for-profit organization needs to invest in a new expensive database. There is no budget for additional servers or personnel. Which of the following solutions would allow it to save money by avoiding hiring additional personnel and minimize the footprint in their current datacenter?

A. Linux
B. Software as a Service (SaaS)
C. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
D. Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Let’s take it one at a time.

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What I would say to someone starting to study journalism today

One of my former classmates sent out a query, asking what we’d tell someone who was thinking about studying journalism today. Predictably, a lot of people wrote “Don’t do it!” or “Newspapers aren’t hiring anyone,” or something similar. I never had time to change careers; my IT career essentially started a week after I started taking journalism classes and I was working full-time in IT a good three months before the dean of the school shook my hand and gave me my diploma.

Although I’ve had to explain my education virtually every time I’ve been interviewed for a job, I don’t regret it.
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