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A lesson learned from Cirque du Soleil

January 27th, 2009

Really limber people

The family and I went to see Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza show on Sunday in Atlanta, and it was nothing short of amazing. I’ve seen one of their shows before, it was also amazing, and so I wasn’t surprised that the experience was phenomenal. I had a thought though (danger, Will Robinson, he’s thinking again!) while driving home. Just a musing, perhaps, but I always try to find parallels between everyday life activities and the information security realm that I dwell in so much.

The big epiphany I had is this – it’s all practice.

What do you mean, Dave? Well, in a nutshell, these people are just awesome at what they do. They perform under pressure, with thousands of people watching them, and their routines are complex. The tiniest slip can spell disaster for whole groups of perfomers, and so they have their acts down to a science. Of course they have talent, as well – perhaps just raw athleticism. But the fact of the matter is that they have gotten as good as they are by simply practicing fanatically.

What wisdom does this hold for us security folks? Well, here’s a challenge for you – what have you committed to being the best at? How much work do you really put into being the absolute best IDS analyst, malware reverse engineer, firewall administrator, log analyst, compliance guru, etc? Well, you won’t get there by just showing up for work every day. You need to practice. A LOT. What kind of home lab do you have? How much time have you spent on network platforms, just relentlessly hammering the CLI? Scripts? Got script fu? Why not?

The economic climate sucks. Jobs are getting hacked all over the place. Yet those who know they’re the best don’t worry about that. They’ll always have someone wanting to hire them. Why? Because they practice. That’s what gets you to the top, not just brains, not your incredible wit, and certainly not all those letters you plaster after your name. You can do it. If you don’t have “become the best at my profession” somewhere on your 2009 Resolutions, add it in. You can do it. </peptalk>

–Shack

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