A few years back, I had the privilege of attending InfoSec World in Orlando. I served on a security panel for Tech Field Day Live, where we discussed some game changers in security. It was a strange feeling being there. I don’t think anyone knew who we were or what Tech Field Day was. I was a security guy, at least from my point of view I was. I was sitting next to the former program manager of the CCIE Security, Natalie Timms, Edward Haletky, and Jack Daniel. I had been on Twitter for years, written a few books for Cisco Press, and I still felt out of place.
As I sat at dinner with Stephen Foskett, I came to the conclusion that these security folk were not very social. I think things have loosened up a bit, but it’s still not an easy world to break into. Why is this important? For some of you, it’s not. For me, time and again being on social networking sites has saved my bacon when I found myself in a jam. What about now?
Well, I can’t say that social networking has improved a lot for security professionals. It may have, but I don’t run in those circles. What I can tell you is that security vendors see the value in, and advertise and respond to, direct inquiries. Sometimes their response to social networking questions is days ahead of an email request submitted through a web form.
Still, following a few security accounts on Twitter can’t hurt. Here are a few that I think are beneficial. Trust me when I say that I have followed several, and unfollowed them just as fast. There’s a lot of repetition and noise out there.
Illumio is a security vendor that I learned about while attending a networking field day. They are based out of Sunnyvale, California, and most of their posts are informative and focus on adaptive security for the data center. They have an interesting solution that I should have taken the time to break down a bit more on my personal blog. You can look them up on the Tech Field Day website. The video is worth a watch, as is their Twitter feed.
I’ve followed @infosecuritymag for some time. They also have informative news that tends to be focused on general information security. You’re not going to learn earth-shattering techniques here, but for someone breaking into the world of security, it will give you a variety of topics to discuss with your peers.
Krebs on Security
Brian Krebs is a journalist who frequently covers profit-seeking cybercriminals. He uses his platform to inform on various security topics. He’s become quite a name in the space and can be found on Twitter; he also hosts his own podcast. In late 2016, he was the target of one of the largest DDoS attacks on record. Yep. He ticked off that certain person that made it a point to shut his site, Krebs on Security, down for quite some time.
If you work with Cisco Security products, you may be interested in following @ciscosecurity on Twitter. The bulk of what you see here is going to be product announcements and write-ups on whatever direction Cisco thinks is important these days. It’s hard to ignore Cisco, even though many will argue the quality of their security portfolio. But when you consider that they house the Talos group, and have tons of customer-provided data that they can analyze, which keeps them up-to-date on emerging threats, it’s worth a little bit of marketing just to get to the good stuff.
Others I’ve Followed
I’ve also followed Bruce Schneier, but after a while his posts don’t really interest me. But you have to admit that the guy is brilliant. Aside from Bruce, there have been others that are more Cisco-specific, but I wouldn’t really recommend them for someone starting out in security.
If you are coming from a data networking background and transitioning into a security role, the news is a solid start. Trying to engage individual security professionals as you would networking and virtualization guys is a tough nut to crack. As time goes by, you’ll likely become familiar with peers you meet at conferences and such. Those are the ones to interact with online, if possible. When you find yourself in a bind, these are the folks you want to ask. However you should be aware that the conversation you have may not be in the public eye. Many security professionals are a little but more hush-hush publicly. They understand that certain things that are said could lead people to the wrong conclusions about the organizations they represent. You can’t blame them. The lawyers are going to force their organizations' representatives to be very tight-lipped about possible breeches and such. For example, if you ask a question about some ransomware that you’ve just encountered, and a buddy of yours that happens to work for Wells Fargo tells you how to fix the issue, people may naturally assume that Wells Fargo has experienced a similar breech. Yep, that’s bad for press.
So be patient, interact with those you know personally, and use social networking to keep up on industry trends. Doing so may guide your learning path as you progress as a network security professional.