Everyone wants information security to be easy. Wouldn't it be nice if it were simple enough to fit snugly inside a fortune cookie? Well, although I don't try to promote such foolish nonsense, I do on occasion pass on readily digestible nuggets to reinforce security principles and get people thinking how security applies to their environment.
I think the key to fortune cookie advice is ‘common sense' in the context of security. It must be simple, succinct, and make sense to everyone, while conveying important security aspects.
Here is my Fortune Cookie advice for September:
In information security, like in sports, knowing your adversary is far more important than knowing the condition of the field.
Information security is an adversarial pursuit. It all begins with threat agents, those people who will negatively affect your organization. Some are malicious, others are not. The key is they are living, breathing opponents whose motivations drive actions which cause loss. They learn, adapt, and change as they seek their objectives.
Know your threats. This is an important first step. Knowing all your vulnerabilities is fine, but secondary in importance.
For those who are malicious, understand what they target and the likely methods they will employ. Only then can the vulnerabilities be narrowed to show the most probable exposures. This prediction gives the security professional a focus on what to protect, how best to monitor, and preparations necessary to respond when needed.
So am I contributing to the problem of over simplifying security? Or am I reaching out to those who might not take an inordinate amount of time necessary to understand the complexities and nuances of our industry? You decide and feel free to share your knowledge-nuggets.