Constants and Change

Microsoft has been talking about community-based defense for some time now. This week, I want to provide a personal dimension to the campaign, and give an update on recent activities. Curiously, as I started to write this post, a couple of phrases popped up, which despite being somewhat trite, seemed appropriate – “change is constant” and “the more things change the more they stay the same.”

The Crushman

Andrew Cushman

Security Director

Cranberry juice (thanks Jay!)

Super helpful hotel desk clerks (thanks Raoul?)

Over the last years my outreach efforts expanded beyond the security researcher part of the security ecosystem to include CERTs and other guidance providers, as well as security organizations and companies. My most recent past and future activities give a view.

Before we get into the trip report, though, I want to spend just a second on a couple of guiding principles and introduce some vocabulary.

I attend a lot of conferences around the world. A number of years ago, I started referring to them as “watering holes” – like watering holes security conferences are the places in the ecosystem that attract a diverse population focused on a common need. The most interesting conferences are the ones with the best “hallway track” – the ones that attract the most diverse and most interesting attendees also typically generate the most interesting hallway (or after hours) discussions.

My objective in attending conferences is twofold. I want to foster community support, help make connections between Microsoft and different parts of the ecosystem, and make bridging connections between parts of the ecosystem that might not otherwise mingle. Secondly, I want to stimulate conversation about shared problems, ensure attendees understand what Microsoft is doing and promote discussion about collaborative solutions.

In December, I was in Sao Paulo at the DISI 2008 – Dia Internacional de Segurança em Informática; an event co-hosted the Brazilian Army and FIESP – the Industry Federation of the State of Sao Paulo. This conference was interesting because of the community it brings together and the challenges unique to Brazil. I presented last year and delivered an embryonic call to action for community-based defense. I was very pleased to be able to return a year later and give an update that showed Microsoft’s progress. I pointed to programs like the Microsoft Active Protections Program (MAPP), the Industry Consortium for Advancement of Security on the Internet (ICASI), the Exploitability Index and Microsoft Vulnerability Research (MSVR) to demonstrate that we are walking the walk.

January found me in California at a Bay Area security confabulation whose theme was “Partnerships: finding ways to energize a common defense.” The attendees came from across the industry and the security ecosystem. I found the hallway track(s) exceptionally valuable and especially enjoyed the discussion and presentations on cloud computing security. I presented on ICASI, and gave a behind the scenes look at its goals, formation, and current state. Microsoft, along with Cisco, IBM, Intel, and Juniper formed ICASI in 2008 to drive excellence and innovation in security response and to promote effective industry collaboration to address the rising tide of multi-vendor security issues.

Also in January, I volunteered (and was accepted J) to be the Program Chair for the 2010 conference organized by the Forum for Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST). I’m a relative newcomer to the FIRST family and realize I have a fair amount to learn – the education starts at the next Steering Committee meeting in Miami and continues at the FIRST 2009 conference this June in Kyoto. I am very pleased by the warm reception and the opportunities this group has to influence and drive positive ecosystem change.

I also took on a new role within TwC Security in January. I handed over responsibility for the monthly security update releases to Mike Reavey in order to better focus on understanding and addressing emerging security threats. The new job is completely different, yet very much still the same. You’ll continue to see me at conferences around the world, I’ll continue to be active in the industry and ecosystem and I’ll continue to promote dialog about the changing threat landscape and what Microsoft can and should do to strengthen Community Based Defense.


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