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Forget widgets, invest in staff say Black Hat alumni

Planning for the next 15 years of security

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Black Hat 2012 Five of the speakers at the original Black Hat conference in 1997 have been reunited at this year's session to discuss the next 15 years of security, and all agree that people are the key investment area, not gadgets.

"The best return is on your employees," said Black Hat founder Jeff Moss. "I rely on people, not on a widget. I can get all the widgets I need for free from the great open source community."

Good security staff are key, of course, he said, but you also need good people managers who can understand how to use people in the right role and manage their output. Marcus Ranum, a Black Hat alumnus and faculty member of the Institute for Applied Network Security, agreed, highlighting forensics and malware specialists, but said that there was also a need for generalists who could see the bigger picture.

Ranum pointed out that virtually no-one runs their own payroll systems anymore; they hire a service to do it for them. To secure this, you don't need a specialist in a particular payroll system, but a generalist who understands how any service will interact with on-premise software.

Security guru Bruce Schneier highlighted the need for staff who are familiar with the legal and regulatory environment, but said that the most important skill for the future CSO is knowing how to regain a measure of security after a system has been broken and to analyze what is missing.

"You want to make sure the breach is short and you can recover and go after the bad guys before they do even more damage," he said. "As an industry we've been telling people 'Buy our stuff and you'll magically be safe.' I like that we're now saying, 'God you're screwed, buy our stuff after the fact – that's a lot more realistic.'" ®

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