Video: Playing the Game of Thrones at RSA Europe 2013

I’m no HBO, but I am pleased to say I have just posted a video of my talk at RSA onto YouTube, entitled “Playing the Game of Thrones; Ensuring the CISO’s Role at the King’s Table. Recorded by my good friend and evil twin brother Kai Roer (@kairoer) it is the session in its entirety along with pertinent slides throughout.

I was pleased with my personal performance at the time, but of course watching it I see many areas I could improve upon. (I am planting my feet better, but still by no means do I stand still for instance.) The staging of the room was very poor, but unfortunately there was not a lot that could be done about that, and many other speakers had to put up with the same issues.

The full abstract for the talk (from the initial submission) is:

Why is is the CISO constantly frsutrated with being required to report to areas of the business that either don’t understand it or conflict with so many of the core deliverables of the role? Too often it is beholden to the agenda of the technology focussed CIO or blinkered by the financial constraints of the CFO. How has the role even got to this place?

Starting with a brief historical look at where the CISO role was borne from in the first place, progression to this current state of affairs is shown to be inevitable.  What is needed is a plan to disrupt this status quo and ensure a CISO is in a position to not only understand the power of the business intelligence that is produced in a well managed environment, but how to ensure it reaches the board in a way that is understood.

Through the use of a universally understood information security model, the CIA triangle, the presentation explores three key areas to assure the success of the CISO in being asked to report to the board rather than being summoned to it.

Initially the actual source of the information, its gathering, the methods employed and the common pitfalls often seen are explored and clarified. What are the common mistakes, how are they rectified and how can you recognise when the data gathering programme is going awry?

Secondly, how is it being pulled together, and what is it saying? How to understand the audience it is being presented to and what can be done to improve its chances of being understood.

Finally, how does the CISO make the final push for the board? What are the key principles that need to be understood about supporting a successful business, what home truths about the information security industry are rarely mentioned and how can the CISO differentiate themselves from those that came before?

This presentation seeks to broaden a CISO’s skills beyond the technical and the post nominal focussed industry accepted norms and into those that actually help a business do what it does best.

The content from this and my other recent talks will start to appear on this blog as I put my ideas down more into the written word rather than a presentation format. I have just one more speaking engagement before the end of the year now, and one in the first two weeks of the new year, so I hope to find more time to write rather than created decks.

I hope you enjoy the video, and as always I would greatly appreciate your feedback both positive and negative/constructive.


Amsterdam has them now: RSA Europe 2013 and playing the Game of Thrones

IMG_2991As usual it was a great week at RSA Europe, as much for the hallways track as all the other tracks on offer. Whilst it may not be as large as it’s bigger brother in San Francisco the move to Amsterdam from London seems to have given the conference a new sense of purpose and scale. The potential to grow in this location is obvious. But I hope it doesn’t grow too much more; there was always a sense of knowing what was going on and when, and where you were in relation to the auditoriums and speakers. I am sure that sense of perspective is more than lost in the scale of RSA San Francisco.

It still had it’s challenges, all minor. For instance, tea and coffee points that seemed perpetually shut throughout the day, a distinct lack of activities on Wednesday even after a 17:00hrs close, and perhaps the location did not lend itself to the kind of out of hours socialising that London had to offer. For me the Novotel bar became the centre of my networking experience, no bad thing, but I would wager there were a few more hotel bars doing the same thing meaning the networking was seriously fragmented.

The usual suspects were there for me to socialise with as well as some new faces, such as Tor and Kjetil from Norway who were both intelligent and hilarious, a combination I always enjoy. I managed to meet a few more of our industry “luminaries” as well which is always interesting (never meet your heroes!), as well as catch up with others I had met previously and enjoyed their company and insights.

IMG_2998For me the whole conference was focused upon 14:40hrs on the Thursday when I presented “Playing the Game of Thrones: Ensuring the CISO’s Role at the King’s Table”. Not only was I presenting in my own right but I was also presenting content and an approach that I had synthesised from a variety of sources and my previous thoughts and theories. The session went extremely well, was watched by a number of people I know and respect, and was fully attended (with even a couple of people having to stand). Questions at the end were thin on the ground although I had noticed that throughout the conference, but the feedback has been phenomenal. I haven’t had the formal feedback from RSA yet, but their newly introduced conference app allows me to see a certain degree of feedback on both me as a speaker as well as the talk itself.

RSAC Europe 2013 GRC-R08 THOM LANGFORD.005

The slides are above in PDF format, and are also available in Keynote format here. My good friend and evil twin brother Kai Roer kindly filmed the talk as well, and as soon as that is available I will be publishing that on YouTube. One of the key reasons for doing so is to invite more comments on the material itself, as I made a few bold statements that I am sure not everyone would agree with. For instance, the less influence a CISO has, the more prescriptive (and lengthy) the policies are, in turn making them less effectives. This is based on my observations only rather than research, so getting feedback on points such as this helps inform everybody more.

All in all it was a great week, making new friends and meeting old ones and always learning new things almost every hour. Here is my honour roll of folks from the week that made it as memorable as always:

Javvad, Brian, Kai, Kjetil, Tor, David, Dave, Bruce, Tor, John, Dwayne, Quentyn, Neira, Josh, Martin, David & Olivier (my apologies to anyone I left out, it is the fault of my memory and not how memorable your were!).


Announcements, Presentations and Work!

Banyan tree, Bangalore, India

Banyan tree, Bangalore, India

It has been an incredibly busy five weeks since 44CON, with a lot of travel, projects coming to fruition, conference talks and preparation as well as more writing than is reflected in this blog.

I have spent three weeks (over two trips) in India carrying out five security risk assessments and hosting one three day client visit, and all I can say is that my India based colleagues continue to impress and amaze me with their knowledge, analytical skills and above all friendliness. I had the good fortune to spend some time with them at a team outing, discovered a mutual friend in London and also hit the dancefloor with them (if you have never danced in an Indian nightclub, you haven’t really danced!).

I was also able to spend an evening with the lovely folks of the Delhi chapter of NULL in Noida, and had a great couple of presentations (WAF and compliance) as well as an engaging conversation on interviewing in the infosec world. I had struggled for the last couple of years to find good conferences and forums in India, but apparently I missed an incredibly vibrant and widespread community. I’m glad to ay that is no more the case and I look forward to attending more in the future (along with my India based colleagues). On my return I attended the IT Security Forum and spoke on “Throwing Shapes for Better Security Risk Management” covering three ways to manage your security programmes more effectively.

A project I have been working on with my good friends and colleagues @sirjester and @j4vv4d finally came to fruition with the help of @jimshout, called Host Unknown. I am extremely proud of this project and we have spent many hours agonising over the details, honing the performances and getting website, YouTube and social media coordinated; in fact it was a lot more work than we expected! There is so much more in the pipeline, and if you would like more information please contact us, I promise you will only be mildly disappointed! (I am also legally obliged to point out that it was all my idea, despite what some of you may have heard.)

My other piece of news is that I have been asked to be a guest blogger for Iron Mountain, something I am absolutely thrilled by! I have already posted my first article, and I am looking forward to writing many more. As someone who can often struggles to  get down to the process of actually writing int he first place, (once I am started I seem to be OK!) I see this another incentive to flex that particular creative muscle more frequently, as well as getting used to writing on specific subjects, somewhat to order. I will of course be cross posting back to this blog, but I would encourage you all to head over and see what they have to say. My particular favourite is @christiantoon who is certainly one of the more prolific writer on the site (and a great guy to boot!).

It’s the RSA Europe conference next week, and I have been busy preparing my presentation “Playing the Game of Thrones: ensuring the CISO role at the King’s Table”. While there is an element of content that I have covered in other presentations before, this is nonetheless a new presentation with plenty of new content, somewhat more research based (although by no means academic) and very much pushing me out of my comfort zone. That said I think it is going to be a strong presentation which should generate some good discussion; here’s a podcast where I explain what I am going to be talking about, and I will of course be covering the conference in my next blog.

With all of this going on I haven’t been able to post as regularly as I would have liked, but I am building up a great stash of content that should see us through the winter months. Winter is coming after all!