Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Endpoint

4/21/2016
11:50 AM
Adam Shostack
Adam Shostack
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail vvv
50%
50%

Security Lessons from C-3PO, Former CSO of the Millennium Falcon

The business will take risks. When and how to speak up.

C-3PO: Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1.

Han Solo: Never tell me the odds.

I was planning to start this with a C-3PO quote, and then move to a discussion of risk and risk taking.  But I had forgotten just how rich a vein George Lucas tapped into with 3PO’s lines in The Empire Strikes Back.  So I’m going to talk about his performance prior to being encouraged to find a non-front-line role with the Rebellion. 

In case you need a refresher on the plot, having just about run out of options, Han Solo decides to take the known, high risk of flying into an asteroid field. When he does, 3PO interrupts to provide absolutely useless information. There’s nothing about how to mitigate the risk (except surrendering to the Empire). There’s nothing about alternatives. Then 3PO pipes up to inform people that he was previously wrong:

C-3PO: Artoo says that the chances of survival are 725 to 1. Actually Artoo has been known to make mistakes... from time to time... Oh dear...

I have to ask: How useless is that? “My first estimate was off by a factor of 5, you should trust this new one?”

C-3PO:  I really don't see how that is going to help! Surrender is a perfectly acceptable alternative in extreme circumstances! The Empire may be gracious enough to...  [Han signals to Leia, who shuts 3PO down.]

Most of the time, being shut down in a meeting isn’t this extreme.  But there’s a point in a discussion, especially in high-pressure situations, where the best contribution is silence.  There’s a point at which talking about the wrong thing at the wrong time can cost credibility that you’d need later. And while the echo in the dialogue is for comic effect, the response certainly contains a lesson for us all:

C-3PO: The odds of successfully surviving an attack on an Imperial Star Destroyer are approximately...

Leia: Shut up!

And the eventual outcome:

C-3PO: Sir, If I may venture an opinion...

Han Solo: I'm not really interested in your opinion 3PO.

Does C-3PO resemble any CSOs you know? Any meetings you’ve been in?  Successful business people are excellent at thinking about risk.  Everything from launching a business to hiring employees to launching a new product line involves risk tradeoffs. The good business people either balance those risks well, or they transfer them away in some way (ideally, ethically). What they don’t want or need is some squeaky-voiced robot telling them that they don’t understand risk.

So don’t be C-3PO.  Provide useful input at useful times, with useful options.

Related Content: 

 

Gain insight into the latest threats and emerging best practices for managing them. Attend the Security Track at Interop Las Vegas, May 2-6. Register now!

Adam is a consultant, entrepreneur, technologist, author and game designer. He's a member of the BlackHat Review Board and helped create the CVE and many other things. He currently helps organizations improve their security via Shostack & Associates, and advises startups ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Joe Stanganelli
50%
50%
Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
4/22/2016 | 9:36:59 AM
But that PSA, tho
I don't know, Adam. He was very good about giving R2D2 actionable and timely data on the risks of smoking, yielding good results.  youtube.com/embed/ELPlgKB9n8E
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/9/2020
Russian Cyber Gang 'Cosmic Lynx' Focuses on Email Fraud
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/7/2020
Why Cybersecurity's Silence Matters to Black Lives
Tiffany Ricks, CEO, HacWare,  7/8/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-11081
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
osquery before version 4.4.0 enables a priviledge escalation vulnerability. If a Window system is configured with a PATH that contains a user-writable directory then a local user may write a zlib1.dll DLL, which osquery will attempt to load. Since osquery runs with elevated privileges this enables l...
CVE-2020-6114
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
An exploitable SQL injection vulnerability exists in the Admin Reports functionality of Glacies IceHRM v26.6.0.OS (Commit bb274de1751ffb9d09482fd2538f9950a94c510a) . A specially crafted HTTP request can cause SQL injection. An attacker can make an authenticated HTTP request to trigger this vulnerabi...
CVE-2020-15504
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
A SQL injection vulnerability in the user and admin web interfaces of Sophos XG Firewall v18.0 MR1 and older potentially allows an attacker to run arbitrary code remotely. The fix is built into the re-release of XG Firewall v18 MR-1 (named MR-1-Build396) and the v17.5 MR13 release. All other version...
CVE-2020-8190
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
Incorrect file permissions in Citrix ADC and Citrix Gateway before versions 13.0-58.30, 12.1-57.18, 12.0-63.21, 11.1-64.14 and 10.5-70.18 allows privilege escalation.
CVE-2020-8191
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
Improper input validation in Citrix ADC and Citrix Gateway versions before 13.0-58.30, 12.1-57.18, 12.0-63.21, 11.1-64.14 and 10.5-70.18 and Citrix SDWAN WAN-OP versions before 11.1.1a, 11.0.3d and 10.2.7 allows reflected Cross Site Scripting (XSS).