April 2014

Addicted to Accolades

by Bill Brenner April 30, 2014 Addiction

Last year, David McCullough Jr. — longtime Wellesley High School English teacher and son of one of my favorite authors — gave a commencement speech in which he told graduates the hard truth: They’re not special. Mood music: You can see the whole speech here, but here’s a key passage for me: In our unspoken but not so subtle Darwinian competition with one another — which springs, I think, from our fear of our own…  [Read More]

Account Theft: The Worst That Could Happen Wasn’t Much

by Bill Brenner April 29, 2014 stress

Because I’m a security writer by profession, one of my biggest fears is that online thieves will suck my bank account dry. I’ve seen it happen to friends and family, and I know how violated they felt. I’ve written too many articles about people I don’t know being victimized. So when it finally happened to me, I was surprised by my muted, almost calm response. Mood music: When I signed in to the family account, I was…  [Read More]

Bullied by the Word “Bully”

by Bill Brenner April 28, 2014 Communication skills for the crazy

Walk into any school these days and you’ll see anti-bullying posters everywhere. I’m happy to see it, because kids need to learn what it is and how to stand up for themselves. Unfortunately, they’re taking cues from grownups who don’t always know what they’re talking about. Mood music: I was reminded of this after reading a blog post from Brian Martin, A.K.A. Jericho, of attrition.org. Martin got into a protracted debate recently with Elizabeth Weidman, mother of security…  [Read More]

You See a SecBurnout Cult; I See Common Sense

by Bill Brenner April 17, 2014 Communication skills for the crazy

Some folks are pissed over my recent posts about efforts in the security community to fight job burnout and depression. I won’t change your minds, so I’ll just clarify a few things and move along. People have made five observations: The data is far too insufficient to declare a problem specific to the security community. Without data, all we have is opinion. The greater InfoSec Burnout movement and I have made it sound like this…  [Read More]

Three Things Jeff Bauman Teaches Us About Being Boston Strong

by Bill Brenner April 16, 2014 Gratitude

Jeff Bauman has gotten so much attention since the Boston Marathon bombings a year ago that I had resolved not to write about him here. I’m as inspired by his story as everyone else; I simply thought there was nothing I could say about the guy that hadn’t been already said. Then I started reading his new book “Stronger.” Mood music: I’ve only read previews and excerpts thus far, but already I’m seeing something special….  [Read More]

Curse You, 403: Forbidden Error!

by Bill Brenner April 15, 2014 News

UPDATE: We believe we have fixed the setting issues behind the problem. But if you encounter an error message, please let us know. Thanks! For months, my OCD has been triggered by a vexing, mysterious problem: Some of my readers keep getting “403: Forbidden” errors when trying to read posts. I’ve looked high and low for the cause and solution, to no avail. Mood music: What probably infuriates me most is that I can access…  [Read More]

There Are Other Things Besides Hacking

by Bill Brenner April 14, 2014 Work-life balance

During that SOURCE Boston session on security burnout last week, someone in the audience made an important observation: One of the reasons depression runs deep in the security industry is because hackers spend most of their time staring at a screen. Mood music: When a researcher is trying to break into system weaknesses, there’s an obsession to it. You can’t pull away. You have to keep traveling deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole in…  [Read More]

SecBurnout: Much Ado About Nothing?

by Bill Brenner April 11, 2014 Depression

At the SOURCE Boston security conference yesterday, I ran a session with former colleague and friend Josh Corman on the topic of security burnout. It’s an issue I’m increasingly dedicated to, given my own history with mental illness and high-profile deaths in the community. When I think of the suicide of Aaron Swartz and the accidental overdose of Barnaby Jack, something in me screams out to act. I’m also inspired by the efforts of people like…  [Read More]

A Hacker Walks Into a Vape Shop…

by Bill Brenner April 10, 2014 Compulsive behaviors

A while back, I wrote about my use of electronic cigarettes as a way to avoid tobacco products. Since then, the phenomenon known as “vaping” has taken off. It’s especially popular in the security industry I work in. There’s some symbolism in that, as I’ll explain shortly. But first, a self-assessment. Mood music: E-cigs have gotten me over smoking. True, vaping looks like smoking, and even feels like it to an extent. But I’m using…  [Read More]

Success vs. Failure: Not as Simple as This Image Suggests

by Bill Brenner April 9, 2014 Inspiration

LinkedIn and other social media sites are publishing a lot of articles and graphics lately about things successful people do and don’t do. There are many good points in all of them, and they at least give us things to strive for. This graphic in particular caught and held my attention: For the most part, I agree with this one. Before I started to bring my demons to heel, many of my traits fell into…  [Read More]