Even Superheroes Need Their Tools

Today is a sad, and dangerous day. As you may have heard, Hostess is looking to go out of business. While it is likely that some of their bigger brands (Twinkie, Wonder Bread) will live on, it is the end of an era. While I never personally consumed much of their product line, as my mother would not let me (You can’t have a Twinkie, here’s an apple), I mourn with the rest of my generation over the loss.

However, unlike the mainstream news media, I am also deeply concerned about the fate of others in the wake of this decision … specifically due to the lack of Hostess Fruit Pies!

See, I remember when The Flash used them to save the city from the Bureauc-Rat. They were an essential tool for Captain America in preventing alien invasion. Aquaman used them to stop a shark invasion. Iron Man’s technology alone wasn’t enough to foil a bank robbery. And Spider-man used them to prevent the destruction of homes. In fact, there have been over 200 times that Hostess has helped save people.

Without this powerful tool, how will we ever survive?

Fortunately, most of our super heroes have contingency plans. DC heroes team up to become the Justice League to solve big problems. Marvel heroes team up to form the Avengers, first fighting among each other and then solving problems. Even the independents work up a good crossover now and then when they have to.

The question is, do you?

In IT in general and in Security in particular, we are highly dependent on a complex web of relationships and dependencies. This can be as simple as needing Microsoft to release their patches so we can protect ourselves. (Which you should do, as this month’s fixed some important issues.) Or it can be as complex as having systems dependent on Dell’s management appliances which are dependent on third party technologies.

Do you know which technologies you are dependent upon? How would you react to their sudden unavailability or to a problem in their supply chain? Do you have a contingency plan or will you have to figure things out in the moment?

Sadly, most people I talk to are in the latter category.

When you choose your vendors, it’s not enough to know if they can do the job today. You also have to know if they’ll be there for you tomorrow and to have a plan in case they’re not. All too often, I see companies who waste far too much time assessing vendors based on the “ideal” technology and no time at all looking at how it integrates into operations and loosely-coupling their technology to other systems.

I’m constantly visiting companies with networks that employ expensive technologies that don’t meet my clients’ needs, while cheaper and better  technologies remain unused. This isn’t just annoying, this is potentially catastrophic to the business. For a case study, look at Hostess. Specifically, look at the strike document. In 2009, technology was not refreshed, which helped to put them into the position they’re in today. Granted, they had other problems. However, whether we’re talking flow-improvement like Document Management or monitoring and control like Anti-malware or UTMs or DLP, technology serves as a multiplier.

If you choose the wrong technology, it will multiply your problems. If you don’t choose the right technology, the firms that do will multiply their profit and leave you in the dust.

When most people hear that we do assessments, they think vulnerability scans and penetration tests. And yes, we do those. However, most of our clients find a lot more value in our vendor assessments, disaster recovery assessments and strategy assessments. These focus on security AND the business. After all, security means nothing without a business to protect.

If Hostess had learned that lesson in their first restructuring attempt, perhaps they’d have lasted longer and a contingency plan of liquidating the entire company would have stayed … a contingency plan. As for me, I’m going to take a long lunch and stock up on fruit pies. After all, you never know when Spider-man might come-a-calling.

And if you haven’t downloaded our very own RJS Smart Security comic book yet, click here!

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Date: Nov 16, 2012

Filed under: Security News, Technical Advice

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