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.

Operations

6/11/2018
10:30 AM
Joshua Goldfarb
Joshua Goldfarb
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail vvv
100%
0%

6 Ways Greed Has a Negative Effect on Cybersecurity

How the security industry can both make money and stay true to its core values, and why that matters.

I've long been a fan of the CNBC series American Greed. To me, the series illustrates, through a series of true stories, how some people make the pursuit of money, wealth, and material things their sole goal in life. For the subjects of the series, no relationship is sacred, no bridge built on trust is safe, and no tactic is out of bounds. For most of us, it can be difficult to imagine how a person can get to such a place. And yet, it happens. Repeatedly.

In security, I think we can learn a powerful lesson from this. Sadly, I have noticed in recent years that our industry has been driven increasingly by greed, and decreasingly by a true passion to protect sensitive data and reduce risk. Of course, I understand that everyone needs to earn a living and that it takes money to make things happen. Even so, I firmly believe that we can make money while still staying true to our values as security professionals. But, as an industry, we need to be cautious. Here are six prominent examples of how greed is taking us further away from solving the problems we face:

Example 1: Conferences
To my knowledge, security conferences serve three main purposes: to allow for the constructive and professional exchange of knowledge, to enable professional networking, and to give enterprises and vendors a forum in which to interact and learn. Unfortunately, many, though not all, conferences seem to have forgotten these three points. Obscenely high entrance fees and exhibition fees for vendors keep all but the most established and mature of organizations from attending. Startups or a smaller vendor with a great idea and a great product or service? Too bad. Small or midsized business that could benefit from the conference but don't have a Fortune 500 conference budget? No room for you here. Very unfortunate.

Example 2: Vendors
As a vendor, I understand the need to keep the lights on. But customers can be sold a high-value solution without needing to deceive them or sell them additional line items that are not in their best interest. It's tempting to inflate the size of a deal for short-term gain, but in the long-term, customers become aware that you've done this, and this hurts us as an industry by lowering the level of trust between vendors and their customers.

Example 3: Relationships
There are many people in our industry who appreciate the value of relationships that are built on mutual trust and respect. But unfortunately, there are also people driven by primarily by greed. There is a saying that goes something like, "No one in Washington calls you for lunch unless they want something." If I, as a customer, think that you, as a vendor (or vice versa), only want to talk to me when there is something to gain, I will likely take your phone calls less often, or perhaps never. The reduction in open communication affects everyone — even those who don't approach relationships in this manner. Worse, it restricts the free flow of ideas.

Example 4: Investment
When I worked on the enterprise side, I often observed how a vendor's behavior would begin to change over time as its investors began to shuffle priorities and micromanage its behavior. Initially, the company might have seemed generally interested in understanding how it could help us address our operational requirements while we were doing business together. Later, investors would step in and set unrealistic numbers, throw in misaligned expectations, or shift the focus of the company toward maximizing short-term profit. Many times, this behavior cost promising companies their good reputations, community buy-in, and the collaborative spirit people offered them. In the end, nearly everyone lost.

Example 5: Innovation
Innovation takes resources and investment. The very same resources and investment add to the bottom line. Whether we're talking about an enterprise that is looking to innovate, a vendor that is well-established, or a startup, it takes an investment in time, energy, and money to innovate. The security profession benefits tremendously from innovation. But unfortunately, the greed that has crept into the profession in recent years has caused many of us in the industry to focus entirely on profit and margins without considering investments in products and services that will address the challenges of tomorrow. If we continue in this direction, we will soon encounter a whole new generation of problems that will put defenders at a big disadvantage against the attackers.

Example 6: Fresh Faces, New Ideas
We've all seen those memes where eerily similar people have by chance chosen to sit row after row on the same bus. While these memes make me laugh, they remind me about the same people I see over and over again at different events and forums. In many cases, these people are industry giants who teach us valuable lessons each time we see them. But in others, they are people whose visibility and check-writing abilities allow them to buy their way into the collective industry mindshare. Without fresh faces, new ideas, and renewed energy, our discourse quickly runs stale. And that is one of the main reasons, in my opinion, that we have been staring at the same unsolved problems for, in some cases, more than 20 years.

Related Content: 

 

Top industry experts will offer a range of information and insight on who the bad guys are – and why they might be targeting your enterprise. Click for more information

Josh (Twitter: @ananalytical) is an experienced information security leader who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs.  Previously, Josh served as VP, CTO - Emerging Technologies at FireEye and as Chief Security Officer for ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Ronn91
50%
50%
Ronn91,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/18/2018 | 4:22:43 AM
Re: cool
Great Information sharing .. I am very happy to read this article .. thanks for giving us go through info Fantastic nice. 
ShimonO600
100%
0%
ShimonO600,
User Rank: Author
6/14/2018 | 3:36:18 PM
Only 6?
I can think of more, in any case, interesting read. 
baranteo
100%
0%
baranteo,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/12/2018 | 9:57:07 AM
cool
Cybersecurity is a problem of last 5-8 years. I'm sure it's a global issue because society afraid that their lives are in danger. We must monitor websites to protect ourselves as consumers
Zero-Factor Authentication: Owning Our Data
Nick Selby, Chief Security Officer at Paxos Trust Company,  2/19/2020
44% of Security Threats Start in the Cloud
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  2/19/2020
Firms Improve Threat Detection but Face Increasingly Disruptive Attacks
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  2/20/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
6 Emerging Cyber Threats That Enterprises Face in 2020
This Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at six emerging cyber threats that enterprises could face in 2020. Download your copy today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
The concept of application security is well known, but application security testing and remediation processes remain unbalanced. Most organizations are confident in their approach to AppSec, although others seem to have no approach at all. Read this report to find out more.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-8813
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-22
graph_realtime.php in Cacti 1.2.8 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary OS commands via shell metacharacters in a cookie, if a guest user has the graph real-time privilege.
CVE-2020-9039
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-22
Couchbase Server 4.x and 5.x before 6.0.0 has Insecure Permissions for the projector and indexer REST endpoints (they allow unauthenticated access).
CVE-2020-8860
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-22
This vulnerability allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code on affected installations of Samsung Galaxy S10 Firmware G973FXXS3ASJA, O(8.x), P(9.0), Q(10.0) devices with Exynos chipsets. User interaction is required to exploit this vulnerability in that the target must answer a phone call. T...
CVE-2020-8861
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-22
This vulnerability allows network-adjacent attackers to bypass authentication on affected installations of D-Link DAP-1330 1.10B01 BETA Wi-Fi range extenders. Authentication is not required to exploit this vulnerability. The specific flaw exists within the handling of HNAP login requests. The issue ...
CVE-2020-8862
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-22
This vulnerability allows network-adjacent attackers to bypass authentication on affected installations of D-Link DAP-2610 Firmware v2.01RC067 routers. Authentication is not required to exploit this vulnerability. The specific flaw exists within the handling of passwords. The issue results from the ...