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Vulnerabilities / Threats

12/31/2007
05:00 AM
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Secure Resolutions

Skip the diet and spend more time in the lab

3:00 PM -- It’s time for New Year’s resolutions, something I’ve not been very good at in the past. So rather than listing the mainstream resolutions to lose weight, watch less television, or quit some bad habit, I’ve decided to put together three resolutions that can help other IT security professionals (including myself) become better at what we do.

  1. Spend more time in the lab. 2007 is probably the year that I've spent the least time testing in the lab. With so many projects going on, it's been difficult to simply test out new tools and attack methods to see first-hand how they work. Whether your lab merely runs different operating systems within VMware, or handles something more complex such as multiple physical machines, switches, and routers, make time to get your hands dirty.
  2. Read more quality, less quantity. If your list of blog, or RSS, feeds has become unwieldy like mine, it's time to do some cleanup. Blogs may vary in quality, but the biggest issue is those that just don't seem to end. Like most IT security professionals, I'm a busy guy being pulled in many directions. I can't sit down and read blog entries that are practically the size of a small feature article in a magazine. I use Google Reader to organize blogs into categories such as daily, Web hacking, forensics, and someday (those that are too long to read daily).
  3. Develop a new skill or hone an old one. For me, I usually try to work on a couple of new skills each year. My current focus is reverse engineering and exploit development, which I'm finding to be quite time-consuming yet rewarding. New skills don't have to be something completely new to you. It could be honing a skill that you haven't had time to fully develop, or maybe something you used to be an expert in but haven't been able to keep up with as the technology has changed. If you're lucky, the skill could be something that could develop into a new area of interest and lead to a better job opportunity.

Resolutions don't have to be a long list, and they don't have to be life-changing. Start with the basics to get you to where you want to be. IT security is an ever-changing field, and if you sit around doing nothing, you'll quickly get passed by. Good luck and Happy New Year.

– John H. Sawyer is a security geek on the IT Security Team at the University of Florida. He enjoys taking long war walks on the beach and riding pwnies. When he's not fighting flaming, malware-infested machines or performing autopsies on blitzed boxes, he can usually be found hanging with his family, bouncing a baby on one knee and balancing a laptop on the other. Special to Dark Reading

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