Monthly Archives: June 2021

Infosec Riot Grrrl Manifesto*

BECAUSE us girls crave respect and authority in our chosen field of Information Security.

BECAUSE we wanna make it easier for girls to see/hear each other’s work so that we can share strategies and criticize-applaud each other.

BECAUSE we must infiltrate the Infosec field in order to create our own destiny.

BECAUSE I am not your mother, your sister, your wife or your girlfriend. So when I speak with authority, keep your emotional baggage and neuroses to yourself.

BECAUSE we recognize fantasies of a macho security dictatorship as a set of impractical lies meant to keep us simply dreaming instead of creating the revolution in Information Security by envisioning and creating alternatives to the bullshit military-posturing way of doing things.

BECAUSE we want and need to encourage and be encouraged in the face of all our own insecurities, in the face of beergutboyinfosec that tells us we can’t play in their sandbox, in the face of “authorities” who say our skills are the worst.

BECAUSE we don’t wanna assimilate to someone else’s (boy) standards of what is or isn’t.

BECAUSE we are unwilling to falter under claims that we are reactionary “reverse sexists” AND NOT THE TRUEINFOSECCRUSADERS THAT WE KNOW we really are.

BECAUSE we know that information security is much more than just reactivity and are patently aware that the punk rock “you can do anything” idea is crucial to the coming angry infosec grrrl revolution which seeks to promote the psychic and cultural lives of girls and women in our profession everywhere, according to their own terms.

BECAUSE we are interested in creating non-heirarchical ways of being, collaborating and working, based on communication + understanding, instead of competition + good/bad categorizations.

BECAUSE doing/reading/seeing/hearing cool things that validate and challenge the status quo can help us gain the strength and sense of community that we need in order to figure out how bullshit like racism, able-bodieism, ageism, speciesism, classism, thinism, sexism, anti-semitism and heterosexism figures in our professional and personal lives

BECAUSE we see fostering and supporting girl infosec professionals of all kinds as integral to this process.

BECAUSE we see our main goal as sharing information and supporting allies over making profits according to traditional standards.

BECAUSE we are angry at a society that tells us Girl = Dumb, Girl = Bad, Girl = Weak, Girl = Not technical.

BECAUSE we are unwilling to let our real and valid anger be diffused and/or turned against us via the internalization of sexism as witnessed in girl/girl jealousism and self defeating girltype behaviors.

BECAUSE I have run out of time, patience and f*#&s in pandering to egos.

BECAUSE I believe with my wholeheartmindbody that girls constitute a revolutionary force in information security that can, and will revolutionize our profession and the world.

*Based on the original Riot Grrrl Manifesto by Kathleen Hanna and Bikini Kill.

When Compliance Goes Bad

You may laugh at the image above, but for many of us, similar absurdities can be found in our own policy frameworks. Governance matters, because badly written, confusing policies and standards will drain the productivity of your technical teams as they run around trying to figure out what’s actually required. Cormac Herley expressed this lunacy best in his paper, So Long, And No Thanks for the Externalities: The Rational Rejection of Security Advice by Users:

“Given a choice between dancing pigs and security, users will pick dancing pigs every time.” While amusing, this is unfair: users are never offered security, either on its own or as an alternative to anything else. They are offered long, complex and growing sets of advice, mandates, policy updates and tips. These sometimes carry vague and tentative suggestions of reduced risk, never security. We have shown that much of this advice does nothing to make users more secure, and some of it is harmful in its own right. Security is not something users are offered and turn down. What they are offered and do turn down is crushingly complex security advice that promises little and delivers less.

As security and governance professionals, we are trusted stewards for our organizations. We have an obligation to ensure that individuals make good choices by clearly communicating our expectations. Otherwise, we just come off like institutional bullies.

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