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Re: My Frustrations
From: "Adriel T. Desautels" <ad_lists () netragard com>
Date: Fri, 19 Dec 2008 07:37:24 -0500

Hi Joe,
While I appreciate your response I only partially agree with you; and frankly I wasn't asking you for a lesson in business. What I feel that you are missing in your post is the problem of inaccuracy and even lies. That problem confuses the customer and often times ends up landing the customer in a very poor security state, then they wonder why they get hacked.

If you have two providers, one of which is very high quality and one is a copy-cat fraud, how does the customer tell the difference between the two? The problem isn't really a problem until the copy-cat starts presenting the same face and message as the quality provider. At that point it is not a matter of the good provider conveying the message better (because the message gets copied) its a matter of the customers learning how to tell fact from fiction, but they can't do that without being educated first.

But what happens when ten more copy-cat providers surface and they follow the same exact messaging as the quality provider? What happens when those providers then offer services at a cost that is 30-80% less than the cost of services being delivered by the quality provider? The answer isn't that the quality provider gets too hurt because "we" don't, the answer is that customers get hurt by a false sense of security. After all the cost of a single compromise can cost people their jobs and even put businesses under.

Joe, just to be clear here, my motivation isn't to create a clear marketing message or to establish my companies name, thats been done very successfully. My goal is to educate the customers so that they can avoid being scammed. I can't tell you how many times we've seen third party deliverables that were the massaged product of automated tools and scanners. Hell, we've even seen deliverables with great big yellow smile faces at the bottom!!!

So in closing, no the incompetent security professional does not convey their message better but instead they convey the exact same message and undercut the real provider thus hurting their customers. But what do they care, they are in it for the money not for the customer's sake right?

Anyway, like I said before, we're working on a white paper that should help customers to draw the line. When its finished I'll make sure to post it to the list for all to read and comment on.

On Dec 19, 2008, at 1:58 AM, Joseph McCray wrote:

Last year I posted a similar message to this list titled "I want the PT
list back....":

My frustration was similar to yours. I just missed how much I used to
learn on this list.

The security community has changed, and now the bleeding edge
information is spread out across tons of blogs and the IRC servers where
people dropped 0-day in the channel has transitioned to private silc

As I said in my previous post there are some REALLY smart people on this
list that have forgotten more about security than I and a lot of other
people on this list will ever learn.

I used to b*tch about how I was so tired of reading the "I've just been
hired to do a pentest - how do I scan a host behind a firewall" posts
questions that I was about to swear myself off of this list.

I had a buddy that pulled me aside and just told me - "You are just
getting better as a security professional so you aren't in awe like you
used to be." There is still plenty of stuff talked about on this list
for newbies to learn from. Occasionally there is something that even
pretty experienced people can learn from as well.

As far as how you handle competing against incompetent security
professionals (that often underbid you - no I'm not
bitter...heheheheh...) and how that affects your business - now that I'm
dealing with a lot of business development - I'm really learning that
you are only as good as what you can convey to the customer.

The customer isn't a security expert, and often can't differentiate
between you and someone that's not as technical as you.

In terms of business - that incompetent security professional either
conveyed his value to the customer better than you did, or got the
customer to believe that they didn't need to go with a larger more well
known firm.

As much as we are geeks and love geeky stuff - this is business. You
have to be able to convey your firm's value to the customer.

Show them the books you've written, the tools you've developed, your
whitepapers, conference presentations, and demonstrate your knowledge of
regulatory compliance. Provide credible references in your customer's
industry, and most importantly prove how you add value with your
professionalism, your customer service, your attention to detail, and
your ability to explain complex problems to developers and

If you are really that much better than someone you think is incompetent
you shouldn't have an issue conveying that to the customer.

I'm not saying all of this to be harsh - this has been a hard lesson for
me to learn as well and I still struggle with it a lot.

Hope this helps.....


On Wed, 2008-12-17 at 14:19 -0500, Adriel T. Desautels wrote:
I recently wrote this blog entry and wanted to get some comments from
readers of this list. I'm frustrated with the caliber of the people
that are offering security services and posing as experts, thats the
subject of the post. Please comment, insult, whatever... I'm interested.


Adriel T. Desautels
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Adriel T. Desautels
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