Friday, March 26, 2010


I'm a CISSP!!!!

For you laypeople...that expands to Certified Information Systems Security Professional.

As I've already mentioned in other fora, several days ago I received the actual piece of paper, complete with gold embossing. Has my name on it, and everything! And I got the lapel pin, too!

What the certification means is that I can now claim to any potential employers or project owners (1) I passed a rather annoying 6 hour exam on ten "domains" (areas) of Information Security and (2) over the course of my career I've had at least 4 years of experience in at least two of those domains (in my case those would be Access Control, Operations Security, Application Security and Information Security and Risk Management) and (3) an existing CISSP vouches for (2) and that I'm of good character and that I'm competent. (Vampire kind of thing going on there. One has to wonder who "made" the first CISSP, but I digress). Surprisingly, having a certificate to these three claims appears to be a requirement for many jobs and participation on many projects.

The exam was truly annoying, and in my opinion, sometimes more an exercise in parsing English carefully than a technical exam. But studying for it was definitely a useful, if somewhat frustrating experience. The exam is "managerial" level (as most training materials will emphasize), also commonly called a mile wide and an inch deep. The content is sometimes poorly defined, contradictory, arbitrary, and focuses on some trivia that is easy to test but almost irrelevant to realistic modern threats (e.g. the infamous Smurf attack -- bet you never thought you'd hear me talking about Smurfs). However, there is some very important content, as well, and the process of thinking about it and organizing it in my mind was, for me, the most valuable part of the experience.

Overall, I'm glad I've got it, but I don't think it changes much what I'm capable of.

Friday, March 5, 2010

One of my favorite things

Sharney recently posted Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues which I agree are, for the most part, things I'd like to aspire to. Order...that's a tough one! So are a lot of the others.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about today. In a similar spirit, I will post Max Erhmann's Desiderata, one of my very favorite inspirational pieces. In fact, I like it so much that I am going to type it out, rather than cut and paste it in here. Beware of typos!

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they, too, have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater or lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore, be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.