Thursday, August 06, 2009

BlackHat 2009 Inspired – On Media Whoring

There is “security theater” and then there is BlackHat/DEFCON. If it were a vendor glossy, I’d have called BH/DC “the latest version of an ultimate, next-generation, paradigm-shifting, integrated theatrical experience.” :-)

As a result, seeing a few of the speakers [and being in, you know, Las Vegas, Nevada :-)] made me think about whoring; media whoring, to be exact. Obviously, security industry is unthinkable or maybe even provably impossible without some media slutting, but at this year’s show I realized “I ain’t seen nut’n yet.” Some folks are just sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good at it.

In any case, my thinking converged into the following over-simplified model (or “muddle”?) which analyzes the intersection of media whoring and subject matter (in this case, security) knowledge:

Security knowledge vs seeking media attention Media attention not sought Media attention sought
Knowledge of subject matter  present Knows his shit + nobody knows about it (case I) Knows his shit+ makes everybody know it (case III)
Knowledge of subject matter  lacking Knows nothing + nobody knows about it (case II) Knows nothing + makes everybody  think that he knows everything (case IV)

What does this teach us?

  1. Case I gets respect, but not enough of it. There is nothing we can do about it, however. People, if you are cool, speak up, the world needs you! Get a blog or something…
  2. Case II gets nothing, which is coincidentally what it deserves. Stay there :-)
  3. Case III  gets non-trivial amount of disdain and some respect  (especially when it involves MD2 crypto :-)) However, is such disdain truly justified?  While there is no metric to compare the value of one’s contribution with an effort needed to get the media to spread his message, common sense criteria definitely apply (“Internet is DEAD! Press conference at 5PM. Live Twitter coverage!” :-))
  4. Case IV gets non-trivial amount of hatred and disdain, but IMHO – and this is my MAIN POINT! – nowhere near enough disdain compared to what they actually deserve!

So, action item: get all your disdain, antipathy,  hatred and annoyance that you now spread between cases III and IV, “double it! double it!! – then double it again!!!” and focus it in the direction of case IV people.

Possibly related posts:

Dr Anton Chuvakin