4 Problems with Krypt3ia’s Krampus List

by Bill Brenner on December 7, 2015

I like Scot “Krypt3ia” Terban. The security researcher has a crotchety communication method I enjoy, and I read his posts a lot. I especially enjoy when he goes after security vendors for FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt).

So when he released his annual Krampus List — a naughty list for the security community — I read it and laughed a lot.

But as I read through it, I found some of it mean spirited. By the end I found myself in a familiar quandary: How could I laugh and be disgusted at the same time? My brain has always been a mass of contradictions, and this is just another example.

There’s a razor-thin line between good-natured jabs and outright venom. From my perspective, picking on Boris Sverdlick because he “took his third job in two years and moved his family across the country for the third time” was a good-natured ribbing. He has switched jobs a lot and there’s nothing wrong with that. You gotta go where your heart takes you. But when his adventures are chronicled on Facebook, his friends — myself included — like to pick on him, as good friends often do. He gives as good as he gets.

Picking on Kelly Lum (@aloria) for narcissistic drama and a lack of contributing to the community? That was pretty shitty. Sure, her posts can be dramatic, but the same can be said about most of us. Hell, my posts have been all about family deaths and unfinished family business all year. I’m sure some of you don’t like it, but that’s what has been on my mind and you’re welcome to unfriend me any time. Kelly has been open and honest about dealing with mental illness. She’s done her day job well despite all that and has set a good example for the rest of us. Whine all you want about her not contributing to the community. In my book, the example she sets is a big contribution.

But there are bigger problems with Scot’s list:

  • It’s made up of anonymous submissions. It’s easy to rip on someone when nobody knows who you are: You don’t have to back your comments up. You don’t have to worry about being attacked in kind. That’s awfully convenient — and cowardly.
  • People who make the comments almost certainly spread their own drama. The worst hypocrisy is the kind where the hypocrite doesn’t show their face.
  • People love to bitch about “a lack of contribution” to the security community. I find that odd, because if you’re doing your job well, you are contributing to the community.
  • Terban endorses all the comments. Though it’s made up of anonymous submissions, Terban collects them and distributes them, essentially endorsing the mudslinging. When a lot of people are criticized for talking shit and spreading drama, Terban is spraying bullets inside a glass house.

Infosec is hard. The people it attracts can be difficult to work with, myself included. Since we’re connected to each other by Facebook and Twitter, we’re exposed to each other’s personal drama. None of us are perfect. We all have different ways of contributing to the community, and what’s useless to one person is valuable to another.

Laugh all you like at the Krampus List. But if you don’t see some of yourself in there, you might be part of the problem.

Cyber Krampus Logo

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

tr3ss December 7, 2015 at 12:43 pm

Thank you. I wasn’t bothered to see myself on the list – someone’s just finding out I’m a recruiter? Someone thinks I’m “self-absorbed?” *DEVASTATED.* But the picking on Kelly was really awful.

A Facebook friend commented on my RT, “Oh, someone nominated you because you didn’t [sleep with] them?” I’m getting a sense that this is the case here. Jealousy and pettiness abound in infosec, and here’s the precis.

aloria December 7, 2015 at 2:11 pm

Seven people are apparently so obsessed with me that they took time out of their day to anonymously diss me on someone’s blog. Yet *I’m* the drama queen.

Okay. Sure. Thanks and god bless.

sno0ose December 7, 2015 at 11:56 pm

I was annoyed about the Jayson, JD, Boris, and Kennedy call outs, but whoever did the Matt harmon (MJH) was spot on, and to be honest it wasn’t me who sent in the nomination. I was hands off of all of this since Krypt3ia blocked me.

anonymous December 8, 2015 at 2:36 am

A number of people who I genuinely admire and have/had the honor of knowing are on the Krampus list. I’m not sure when the shift happened from trashing charlatans to trashing everyone that is legitimately moving the industry, but the shift happened before now and is a factor in why I don’t speak at public conferences anymore. The Internet never forgets and one person trash talking you in the most biased and idiotic manner will be regarded as fact by the next person to stumble upon it who doesn’t know any better. People underestimate the ripple effect.

Contributing to the community is a mistake. Keep your shit priv8 and profit from it as much as you can. Don’t give it out for free. Stay anonymous.

my reverse roast is as follows:

-Aloria’s blog is funny as hell and the haters are the real cunts here.
-Adrian is still a damn good cameraman and TO THIS DAY nobody is better at camera.
-Bsides Las Vegas board- If a rogue admin is defacing your corporate website with his dirty laundry you would kick him out too. Don’t pretend you would act any different.
-The hatred against Evan Kholmann was based on the words of a biased reporter and are now regarded as fact. Good job moron do some of your own research for once.
-HackerHuntress’s crime is using Twitter, which people can unfollow or block if her tweets make them cry like the bitches they are.
-Jayson Street doesn’t deserve nearly this much hate. If you don’t want to interact with him then don’t. Grow up. Street is harmless.
-Josh Corman is trying to solve a hard problem and his critic has contributed fuckall in comparison.
-John Brennan stopped using AOL ~6 years ago like the rest of us. Learn how to make timelines. You should take a break from talking shit and learn the basics of IR.
-So Stratfor’s reporting on the Paris attacks now counts as shameless capitalizing. Everyone shut down the presses, an anonymous person is mad.
-Other people who I don’t know but also aren’t shitty: keep on trucking, fuck the haters, fuck the community. Profit as much as you can and give nothing back.
-If drama that doesn’t involve you makes you mad, unsubscribe like an adult instead of acting like a little bitch.
-Krypt3ia has been banned in the past from places I also happen to frequent due to toxic behavior. So I’m not surprised all this came from him. His parents should have hugged him more & beaten him less. Or beaten him more. I’m not sure. They fucked up somewhere though.

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