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The Cyber Why: What We Read This Week...
... and why you should too! (11/11/2022)
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Without further ado, welcome back to next edition of The Cyber Why: What We Read this Week! This week the tech news was overrun by the wild “Elon / Twitter Debacle”. We discussed a number of articles on this topic in last weeks edition, and while I find it very intriguing, if you distill down what’s happening, it’s basically an egomaniac bringing havoc on a company. It is sad to see what’s happening to the employees at Twitter and I wish them all the best of luck as they pick up from the damage. Regarding Elon’s ego, based on the completely unscientific poll we ran last week, it looks like at least some of you agree with me.
It’s also clear that there is a very polarizing view of Musk right now. People either think he’s amazing or completely nuts. Personally I’m in the later group but I would love to hear your reasons why you think he is better than a top tier Internet troll - Use the comments down below!
Here’s this weeks headlines are our somewhat interesting and occasionally witty commentary:
The Hunt for the Dark Web's Biggest Kingpin, Part 3: Alpha Male (Wired)
What a riveting view into the life of one of the Dark Web’s biggest kingpin. In this episode we get a glimpse not only into the criminal activities of Alpha02 but also his sordid alter-ego Rawmeo. What a crazy story. Just when you think things can’t get more insane, the US law enforcement agencies team up with their Dutch, German, and Thai equivalents to go after the top dog. Awesome story - if you only get to read one article this week, make it this one!
What ‘Sneakers’ Still Gets Right About Engineering and Cybersecurity 30 Years Later (VentureBeat)
There are a number of movies and books that influenced me in my youth. Wargames, Hackers, The Cuckoo's Egg, Neuromancer, and a few other gems helped me see the potential for computers and alternate realities. One movie that can’t be ignored when debating the most influential movies on the psyche of young hackers was Sneakers. Sneakers premiered in my Junior year in high school (1992) and starred Robert Redford who led a team of hackers and phreakers being paid to test the security of large enterprises. You have to consider that when this movie came out the concept of paid penetration testing did not exist. It wasn’t a thing. It was influential on me personally as just a few years later I formed my own consulting company doing just this! Talk about an inspiration. Here’s to you “Sneakers” I owe you a lot.
Netflix Former Cybersecurity Chan on Breaking Into The High Demand Industry (Fortune | Education)
Jason Chan is one of the great ones. He’s been around this field as long as I have (yep that’s a long time!) As a matter of fact, I had the pleasure of working along side Jason for a number of years when we were consultants together at a firm called AtStake. He taught me a ton during that era and I still thank him for it to this day. In this article Jason goes over the different paths to success in cyber security including a bit on the certification vs formal education debate. I love his approach and recommend this read specifically for anyone that is considering entering the field of cyber security. My key take away from the article is that you really have to have a passion for what you are doing as well as a continuous desire to grow and learn. If you have both of those things you will go far.
Twitter Chief Information Security Officer Lea Kissner Departs (TechCrunch)
I know I said we weren’t going to cover the Twitter / Elon version of “Housewives of Silicon Valley”, but this story just hits different. Drama unfurled after the departure earlier this year of security head “Peiter Mudge Zatko” and then-CISO Rinki Sethi. This left the door open for Kissner to be appointed as full CISO in January 2022. I’m sorry but that’s just a job I would have run screaming from. I would have run away immediately when the FTC is making statements such as:
“No CEO or company is above the law, and companies must follow our consent decrees. Our revised consent order gives us new tools to ensure compliance, and we are prepared to use them.”
Lea has much more guts and is way braver than I could ever be to hop on that exploding grenade. However the position didn’t last all that long as Elon pushed a flaming dumpster fire into the Twitter HQ lobby causing Lea to run for the fire escape as well.
Distribution Should Be Part of Product Design (Zero to One By Peter Thiel)
I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about why some products and companies are able to succeed and others are not. Sometimes it’s the technology, sometimes the fit to the market, and what I’ve been really focused on recently is that sometimes it’s the distribution of the product. We don’t really think about distribution of software anymore as a differentiator in our products mostly because everything is software as a service provided in the cloud. You just sign up - there really is no “distribution” in a traditional sense. However, that’s not really the case. Distribution isn’t just having the best ability to send a packaged good to the buyer, it’s really about mastery in how you get the product into the hands of the buyer in any way possible. In today’s modern times that basically means sales and go to market are your distribution! Check out the quote below then go read the entire book!
When Changing Jobs Changes Your Identity (Harvard Business Review)
I’ve told many a mentee that you absolutely can’t let your “job” define your identity. What I mean by that is that a “job” is a “job” and your self worth as a human being is much broader than just what you do to earn money. I know this because I’ve been tied up in that difficult twisted knot of a job becoming your persona. It can be a very tough spot to get through and takes work to eventually figure out. This article approaches job identity with a really interesting framework to help you succeed as you transition between positions. With the mass layoffs occurring in technology today this article is a great start for people to read and learn how to evaluate what they need to be successful.
Meet the Model A, the First Flying Car That Actually Drives Like a Car and Flies Like a Helicopter (Robb Report)
I guess we really do live in the future. The “Model A” from Alef Aeronautics is the only vehicle that handles the road like a car and the air like an eVOTL (electric vertical take off and landing) vehicle. The video mock up is super crazy looking. It reminds me of something I have seen in some poorly visualized sci-fi movie (think 5th Element or Bladerunner). The craziest thing about the vehicle is that you can reserve one in Q1 2023 for the a down payment of $1500 and an MSRP of $300,000. For that low low price you will take delivery by the end of 2025 and have absolutely nowhere to drive / fly the thing because the laws and roads won’t be anywhere ready to support it. The first time you VTOL up from a highway to bypass traffic will likely be the only time as they chase you down and take your new hover car away. That’s why we can’t have shiny new things!
Fix Tech Staffing With Rightsizing Not Layoffs (Tech Republic)
This article suggests that we train people and move them to a new area of the business instead of doing layoffs. Great in theory, difficult in practice. When tech companies hire, they hire someone because of a specific capability. They understand a certain technology well or they know how to do a specific task. The cost of cross training people into a completely separate area of the business can be very expensive in most cases. Sure.. if someone is a natural fit or has an easy path to transition, we should always look to “rightsize” but the reality is that tech workers are extremely specialized and the cross training cost is likely way higher than the current layoff and rehire approach. As much as I like the idea, I don’t think this recommendation will work in practice.
If, as the article says, “TikTok’s is a full-screen diary of your unmediated inner self”, I’m in deep trouble. I’m full of dog videos, music and guitar teachers, and sports highlights. Apparently I have no depth or substance.. or is it TikTok that has very little in redeemable qualities. This particular article is interesting because it’s less about the “all knowing” algorithm and more about the delivery mechanism and how that impacts how we receive information. Much like SubStack reinventing how content and news is delivered in the future, TikTok is very likely the future of entertainment. TikTok is designed from the ground up to leverage a single “flow state” of content in order to create a mindlessness in the audience. Some would even say it’s similar to being in a trance of addictive infinite scrolling. The article goes on to discuss the potential for the phone to be considered an extension of the mind itself and brings up some great thought experiments to determine if the mobile device is an external representation of the human brain when used in a continuous manner. This is a super cool article that brings up all sorts of sci-fi type ethical conundrums. My net takeaway is to remain cognizant of our digital extended self and to be wary of becoming a slave to something that we do not control. Definitely worth the read!
Crypto and Web 3.0 aren’t shaking out how the we had expected. This is evident with the ongoing saga of FTX. There are some crazy things happening in the crypto world this week and our Special Edition section of the newsletter will give you the highlights!
FTX: Bitcoin hits two-year low as crypto exchange deal collapses (BBC)
There’s been a FTX [crypto] liquidity crisis in full flux for the past several days due to speculations of market manipulation. $6B of withdrawals from investors led a full on collapse of the exchange. And no bailouts are coming for exchanges like FTX — not even Binance (an early FTX investor, turned rival) is able to help. Binance said in a statement posted on Twitter that the issues facing FTX were "beyond our control or ability to help".
Sequoia Capital marks its FTX investment down to zero dollars (TechCrunch)
Whoa — that escalated and crashed real quickly. Although FTX only accounted for less than 3% of their investment portfolio, it still must sting to lose $210M within days. Getting ahead of the news and distancing themselves from FTX was the best move they could make; it sends a message that they want no further involvement in the future issues to come. Will risky bets be a think of the past? Probably not. Investors like Sequoia Capital, Temasek, and Blackrock will have to think twice and vet much more heavily to avoid similar problems down the road.
“FTX is currently unable to process withdrawals. We strongly advise against depositing.”
Between the Twitter-feed apology monologue and the new FTX main page warning (above), transparency came a little too late.
Here are the answers I want to know: Did we really not see the signs? Was it not concerning when FTX relocated from Hong Kong to “Bitcoin-friendly” Bahamas? Will the Miami Heat have a new arena name? How much will celebrities like Tom Brady and Steph Curry lose after the dust settles?
Market sentiment is definitely shaken by this recent incident but to be honest, the market has been dropping since last year. Will cryptocurrencies and crypto exchanges go away? Probably not. Committed VCs and investors will continue to invest in future crypto market cycles. Good luck to all those choose now to enter the fray!
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