Marcus Ranum, my new “cyber” hero

One of the keynote speakers at the AISA National Conference this year was Mr Marcus Ranum.

One of the keynote speakers at the AISA National Conference this year was Mr Marcus Ranum. I, like many, respected Marcus mainly because of his technical achievements in our industry, if you don’t know who he is; I hope the rock you are living under is nice.

The AISA conference was the first time I have had the opportunity to see him speak live, uncensored and crazy (in a good way). I can say with no doubt at all, he has a new legion of fans, all with a different level of respect.

Stepping aside from the typical presentation style expected at a reputable security conference, Marcus gave the 650+ people in attendance a smack down, hilarious dose of information about “Cyber Insurgency”. The point of this post is to share 2 key message I took away from his presentations i.e. my take on what he was talking about.

Message 1. Always question the motives of people in power: This means if a situation smells funny, dig deep and do your own research, be sceptical, and apply logic. Don’t stop till you’re happy with the answers you’ve discovered or have reached some other suitable outcome. One of Marcus’s examples was “Cyberwar”. He questioned the government/media created hype about this, indicating that passing laws to “protect” citizens will eventually allow “the man” open slather access to every piece of digital information about you, anytime they want it without you knowing. Granted if you got nothing to hide what’s the problem, but that’s not the point, the point is if it is being imposed via deceit, there might be another motive … what could that be?

Message 2. If you feel “cyber” violated or harmed in anyway, don’t take it: This means condition the “violator” to change their behaviour. The example here was if Marcus’s horse (p-nut) bucked him while riding, he immediately punches him in the back of the head to signify not to do that again. There is no point waiting till he gets back home with a broken nose and a cracked skull to try to explain to a horse why he didn’t enjoy that ride. Your “cyber” presence and experience online is personal and important. If you don’t like what is happening e.g. the government imposing internet filters or someone getting unjustified access to your personal information, do something about it (he gave lots of practical examples, but I am not going to mention any of them, needless to say they were designed to send a message to anyone you think has done something wrong. I don’t think the law enforcement folk in the room would have been too happy about some of the “suggestions”). The point is you stand up for yourself in other elements of your life, so why not do it “cyber space”.

The presentation was extremely funny and delivered a lot of truths. The .ppt deck will be up for viewing at www.aisa.org.au at some stage I’m sure, so I recommend going and having a read. It no doubt opened the eyes and thoughts of many people in the room, and I for one will be following the future commentary of my new “cyber” hero.

I hope the repeated use of the word “cyber” started to grate on you, that was intentional, however it was a joke, do not apply Message 2 to me… thank you.

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