Thought I Was a Security Rockstar. Was Just Stupid

by Bill Brenner March 24, 2017 Dealing with life

In pretty much every industry of late, people of great talent, drive and achievement are being labeled rock stars. I certainly see it as I work in the information security industry. Those who get the label tend to deserve it. But there’s a dangerous side-effect: The term rock star can bloat the egos of those it’s bestowed upon. It leads to big heads and bad attitudes. I’ve watched many handle it with humble grace. And…  [Read More]

Why I’m Not Enjoying the Ashley Madison Hack

by Bill Brenner August 24, 2015 News

Because I have a happy marriage and am not the cheating type, I thought I’d enjoy the fallout over the Ashley Madison hack, in which millions of people using the adultery site were outed. One of the outed individuals was reality TV star Josh Duggar, a self-proclaimed devout Christian who preaches the virtues of family values. Everyone likes to see hypocrites fall, right? Mood music: I spent a lot of time pondering what I could write…  [Read More]

It’s Not What You Do for a Living, It’s How You Carry It Forward

by Bill Brenner July 13, 2015 Social Networking

Every job, no matter how lowly it seems, is an opportunity to learn something that’ll come in handy later in life. The other day I was helping someone who wants to pursue a career in information security. He wasn’t sure if he should list some of his past jobs in his profiles because they don’t have anything to do with his preferred industry. I urged him to include everything. Mood music: He’s currently a barista at…  [Read More]

On Skipping Security Cons

by Bill Brenner June 15, 2015 Infosec

On Twitter last month, friend and fellow infosec professional Marcus Carey suggested industry peers place too much importance on conferences: There is no way these people that speak & appear at every conference should be taken as serious practitioners of their craft. — Marcus J. Carey (@marcusjcarey) May 15, 2015 One can take the tweet several ways. Mood music: Some might say he’s criticizing conference organizers for roping in people who spend all their time…  [Read More]

Vincent Bugliosi Inspired My Work in Journalism, InfoSec

by Bill Brenner June 10, 2015 News

Vincent Bugliosi, the man who prosecuted Charles Manson and his family and then detailed the case in his book Helter Skelter, has died at age 80. Indirectly, I owe some of my career trajectory to him. Mood music:  I’ve chronicled my interest in the Manson case at length in this blog. Those posts capture the mental health issues that led to the crimes, as well as my own OCD-fueled obsession with the case. But Bugliosi’s…  [Read More]

The Drama Over Drama

by Bill Brenner April 2, 2015 security drama

Recently, someone in the security community opined that she’s not a fan of hugs at security conferences. The pro-huggers didn’t like her comment and used social media to say so. Also recently, the folks running RSA Conference decided to ban so-called “booth babes.” That led to a very long debate about sexism vs. freedom of expression. Mood music: In both cases, someone in the crowd yelled a word that’s been used so much that it’s…  [Read More]

My Biggest Critic Sounds Off: Two Angry Responses

by Bill Brenner February 24, 2015 Humor

I once wrote that writers like me need our critics to keep honest. This post is a tribute to my biggest critic: fellow infosec professional Dave Marcus. Mood music: A few things about Dave: Despite everything that follows, we’re good friends with similar musical tastes. He owns some of the coolest guitars on the market, but he doesn’t play. The guitars hang on a wall like Han Solo frozen in carbonite. He’s an avid weight lifter. His…  [Read More]

Drinking at Security Cons

by Bill Brenner May 29, 2014 Well-Being

A friend from the security community, Rob Fuller, has written a post about drinking at conferences. It’s an activity I engaged in with abandon until I decided to quit drinking on New Year’s Day 2010. His post reminds me of what the transition to sobriety was like in conference settings. I drank my way through the first few RSA conferences to cope with nerves. You could drink all you want for free at the vendor parties,…  [Read More]

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]

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 Martin got into a protracted debate recently with Elizabeth Weidman, mother of security…  [Read More]