Strategy and book review

A “Strategy” thread was started on the DailyDave mail list by Dave himself, criticizing information warfare papers:
“If you’re reading an information warfare book or paper you’ll invariably see a lot of:
1. Inane references to Sun Tzu (or, in some even more horrible cases, any two of Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, and John Boyd)
2. Declarations that information warfare is an “asymmetric attack”

Dave goes on to drop a couple product names and then describe the money saving mono-culture Microsoft technology implementations within the US .com and .mil communities, and describes it as poor strategy:
“Bad strategies like this result in flailing and moaning as you get defeated over and over by someone with better strategy, not because the battlefield is inherently asymmetric.”

Unfortunately, this past year was a record year for data breaches, according to a couple of groups. (Although, I’m not sure that statement is completely true. It seems more to have been a record year for reporting breaches, due to a number of new factors. Incident reporting has always provided only a cloudy window into actual events.)
Any way you slice it, in light of the sheer volume of security breaches, Dave’s statement about the mono-culture of .com and .mil communities is a troubling one — in spite of a year of record profits for the .com community and record budgets for the .mil community, it seems that technology implementations still are not getting the budget or focus that they require when it comes to effectively addressing security needs.

Another poster on the list responded to Dave’s complaints by posting a book review about “Spec Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare: Theory and Practice” by William McRaven, a U.S. Navy SEAL commanding officer. I got a chance to check it out this past week and the eight case studies McRaven analyzes really are fascinating (if you’re a bit of a military history buff). The theory and principles at the beginning of the book (summarized on the DailyDave post) can be applied to analysis of the targeted attacks that have become much more commonplace on the net. It’s a stimulating read for security enthusiasts, and applies well to the ongoing security breaches around the world:
“If you can’t draw the parallels to general security practices from those principles then the book is not for you, otherwise you might find yourself ripping through the book and thinking in an entirely different light by the final chapter.”

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