Saturday, October 12, 2013

Probably Relocating to Portland or Seattle

Living in the hinterlands of the central Willamette Valley, as someone engaged in the theory or practice of information security is a hard thing to do. Most of the people I need to talk for business purposes are northwards, in Portland or Seattle.

That is not the major part of the problem; even skinny pipes can deal with most bandwidth issues, such as sample data sets. The clients you really want Just Get It. Perhaps surprising, but true. And they are such a joy to work with, which makes up for many things.

One of the things that they can not make up for is isolation. That is a constant threat to productivity for anyone working at home.

On one hand, you are undisturbed, and it's easier to get into The Zone, and be extremely productive. Call it Flow State, or whatever. To me, it will always The Zone.

On the other hand, the inspiration that comes from talking to colleagues is missing. Make no mistake: as a commercial proposition, being the expert rules. But you do have to be demonstrably right, roughly 100% of the time, and there is little that will give you any insight into solving the next client's problems.

For that, you need a research community, and diversity. Or you could take my approach, which involves one hell of a lot of homework, and sunk costs. This can work, in specific areas; I have a track record dating back 13 years or more.

But the security industry, as a whole, has to do vastly better. As I think about host security (secure against what threats? who have what resources?) I want network people next to me. I want rootkit specialists, and people expert in state machines and log analysis. I sure as hell want to have people that have a clue about authentication and authorization.

There is no substitute for a group of really clever people scribbling on a whiteboard. It's a huge buzz of argument, and about the coolest thing ever. I hugely miss the diversity, the frenzied scribbling, and the ensuing arguments.

The really nice bit is that I have enough latitude on the current engagement that I can just do it, if it still seems wise a couple of weeks from now. In essence, I would be moving closer to daily arguing-around-a-whiteboard range, and they are *fine* with that idea.

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