DHS is Looking for a CISO

Posted November 4th, 2011 by

Job announcement is here.  Share with anybody you think can do it.



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A Little Advice From Mike and Lee

Posted April 20th, 2010 by

Go have a look at what Mike Murray and Lee Kushner have to say on what I endearingly refer to as “Stupid Contractor Tricks”.

Now I know Mike and Lee are supposed to be tactful, and they do a really good job at that.  This post is not about tact.  =)

You need to step back a bit and understand the business model for contractors.  Because their margins are low and fixed, it means a couple of things:

  • You have large-volume contracts where you still have the same margin but more total net profit.
  • You can’t keep a bench of people off-project because it rapidly eats into your margin.  For some companies, this means that anybody off-project for 2 weeks or more gets laid off.
  • The name of the game is to win the proposal, get the work, then figure out how to staff it from rolling people onto the new project and bringing in new hires.  This is vastly inefficient.
  • New hires can also be to backfill on contracts where you’ve moved key people off to work something new.

So on to my advice in this particular scenario that Mike and Lee discuss:  Run away as fast as you can from this offer.

There are a couple of other things that I’m thinking about here:

  • A recruiter or HR person from Company A left for Company B and took their Rolodex of candidates.  Hence the surprise offer.  Either that, or Company A is now a sub for Company B or Company A is just the “staffing firm” getting paid $500/signed offer letter and doing business in bulk.
  • The Government usually requires “Commitment Letters” from the people that have resumes submitted on a proposal.  The reason for this is that the Government realizes what kind of jackassery goes on involving staffing, and requiring a signed letter gives the candidate an opportunity to decide up front.
  • If you sign an offer like this, you’re letting down the rest of the InfoSec community that are contractors by letting the recruiters commoditize what we do.  It’s bad for us and it’s bad for the Government.

Other stupid contractor tricks:

  • Signing an exclusivity letter that they are the only people who can submit your resume on a contract.
  • Making you sign an offer letter then letting the offer linger for 6+ months while you’re unemployed and could really use the ability to move on to a different job.
  • Shopping resumes for people you have never met and/or do not intend to make an offer letter to.
  • Changing the job completely after you have accepted the offer.
  • …and you probably have more that you can put into the comments section below.  =)


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Privacy Camp DC–April 17th

Posted April 7th, 2010 by

Just a quick post to shill for Privacy Camp DC 2010 which will be taking place on the 17th of April in downtown DC.  I went last year and it was much fun.  The conversation ranged from recommendations for a rewrite of

The basic rundown of Privacy Camp is that it’s run like a Barcamp where the attendees are also the organizers and presenters.  If you’re tired of going to death-by-powerpoint, this is the place for you.  And it’s not just for government-types, there is a wide representation from non-profits and regular old commercial companies.

Anyway, what are you waiting for?  Go sign up now.



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QR Code Temporary Tattoos Howto

Posted February 10th, 2010 by

So it started with an idea.  How cool would it be to get everybody to install a QR code reader and read temporary tattoos off each other?  Anyway, at Shmoocon I walked around with a bag of QR temporary tattoos much to the delight and chagrin of the hackers assembled therein.

The howto:
#1 Get a barcode generator. I use zint, it’s my favorite tool for generation.  For those of you on Ubuntu or Debian, I have packages built for you.  And give the zint guys some money while you’re at it, they use the funds to buy standards and make zint work with every symbology known to mankind.

#2 Get a layout program. I use Inkscape.  Key here is that it has to be able to import .svg files and be able to flip images horizontally.

#3 Get printable temporary tattoo paper. It’s not really cheap, but I found kits on tattoofun.com.  The kit consists of waterslide temporary tattoo paper, adhesive sheets, and an instruction sheet.

#4 Make .svg Barcodes! I load up zint and toss some text at it, then use the QR symbology.  Some examples:

  • sms:7035551234 body:Greetz from teh Internetz
  • MATMSG: TO:shredder@guerilla-ciso.com; SUB:Test; BODY:This is a test. Please reply if received.;;
  • MECARD:N:Wizzleteague, Stinky;ADR:1234 Main St, Arlington, VA 22202;TEL:+17035551234;EMAIL:shredder@guerilla-ciso.com;;
  • Hi, I’m Quine. I haz a RAGE! https://twitter.com/quine
  • I went to Shmoo and all I got was the flu
  • BTW, if you want to pay me to make QR tattoos for promotion events, drop me an email.

Zint Main Screen

#4.5 Add in QR error correction. The more error correction you use, the more data in the barcode so the smaller the blocks are.  However, some error correction compensates for distortion and glare.  IIUC, Zint automagically adds in 20% error correction.  I’m not sure what the magic number here is because it depends on the size of the printed barcodes.

Zint Error Correction

#5 Export barcode from zint. SVG is awesome to save as because you can scale the barcodes up as much as you want and they won’t get all pixelated-looking.  You can grab a ton of the barcodes I made here.

Save as SVG

#6 Import barcode into inkscape.  File=>Import then select the .svg file you want.  Since the barcodes are svg, you can scale them awesomely.  For mine, I set up guidelines so I could lay out rows proportionately.  Be sure to lock the object proportions or you’ll get hideously warped QR monstrosities that nothing can read.  You can grab my sheet of barcodes here.

Lock Aspect Ratio in Inkscape

#7 Make “The Big Flip” and print.  Inkscape-specific: Edit=>Select All   followed by   Object=>Flip Horizontal.  Then print the page on the glossy side of the slide water paper.

#8 Add the sticky.  It’s a bit like laminating a map only the adhesive is way more forgiving.  Poke some pin-holes in the adhesive sheet and smooth out all the bubbles.

#9 Cut, peel, stick, wet, pull, read, lol.  You can get a reader here, but the important bits: iTunes Store: Barcodes.  Android: Barcode Scanner.

Lessons Learned:

Laser barcode scanners don’t work because the film is reflective.  Photo-based barcode scanners (ie, most mobile scanners) work pretty well.

You have to make the barcodes bigger than I did.  Mine were .75x.75 inches and due to the glare on the paper and some distortion due to putting them on skin, they were hard to read.  I think maybe 2×2 inches are optimum.

Hackers don’t like informational urls in their tattoos: “I got an add for ZXing, this sucks”.  I think random goofy phrases and skin pwnage would work better than informational urls.

Some people (Quine) weren’t happy with a grab-bag random url and needed their own custom witty saying.  I felt the rage, it has now been fixed.

You can’t read the barcodes until they’re on the skin because of the horizontal flip.  Before you do the flip, print out the barcodes on regular paper.  You can read these easily enough.  Then flip the finished barcode sheet over after you’ve printed it and you can match up the barcode with the non-flipped sheet.  Even better if you use your computer monitor as a lightbox.

QR Temporary Tattoo



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Hack Disaster Relief

Posted January 25th, 2010 by

I’m curtailing my blog for a couple of weeks.  I’m busy helping out with Haiti.

I spent last Saturday at CrisisCamp DC.  It’s a barcamp-style hackathon to build applications to help relief workers in Haiti.  Think long-range wifi routers to network the country where the infrastructure is destroyed.  Think a website for quake survivors to tell their story.  Think a Craiglist for relief workers where somebody with an oxygen generator and  somebody with a power supply can get together and make something that helps both of them.  Think all of these created in an 8-hour development stint.

Yes, security folks, you can help.  Not only that, but you have the technical skills to get web apps stuff done and the project management experience to lay out what it is that needs to be done.

We’re holding another CrisisCamp in DC this Saturday the 30th.

Go to crisiscommons.org and look for a project that interests you or a local camp.

Here, let Andy Carvin break it all down “Big Bird Style”:

Movie by @Digiphile, Alex Howard from SearchCompliance.com.  Hopefully I didn’t just “out” him.  =)



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AppSec DC Press and Themes

Posted November 2nd, 2009 by

So I’m working with the AppSecDC folks doing press relations amongst other things.  I’ve noticed several themes for the conference that might be of interest to the rest of the world.  Of course there’s the usual “The end is nigh, and not even Norton can save you!!!!!” stuff that’s been the staple of security conferences for the past 5 years or so (oh noes, teh Internetz are broken.  Again)

However, AppSecDC has another set of themes that are mostly unique to OWASP and AppSecDC in particular:

  • The OWASP Approach to Security: it’s not process/product, it’s education and outreach.  Thanks to Doug Wilson for this idea.  Basically with host and network security, the option is to buy stuff and throw it at the problem.  With application security, it’s “go out and touch a developer today” and “use ESAPI as a tool to help the developers write better and secure code more quickly”.  This is a new concept to the system integrator that I am, but I like it much better than my usual approach.
  • Government and Application Security: we’re about 5 years behind industry, how do we catch up?  To this effort, we have some notable Government speakers such as a keynote by Joe Jarzombek, Director for Software Assurance in the National Cyber Security Division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • OWASP Top 10 2009/2010: This will be announced at AppSecDC with much w00tness and excitement.
  • OWASP National Summit: this will be held the day before the official conference.

Convinced you want to go?  Check out the conference site.



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