Security Staff Acquisition & Development, Leadership

The Importance of Partnering in Infosec

By Antonio A. Rucci, Counterintelligence Special Agent (Retired), Information Technology & Technical Security Consultant

If you are engaged in in the information security (infosec) community for any length of time, regardless of whether you are Blue Team, Red Team, or Purple, one data point remains constant: You recognize the importance of partnering.

While this message transcends a variety of industries, the infosec community, “my” infosec community, thrives in the spirit of partnerships. I’m extremely proud to be actively engaged and have the unique privilege of both participating in and observing others value partnerships and the “Pay It Forward” ethos.

This hasn’t always been the case, but in recent years I’ve watched a very symbolic transition. The infosec community is built upon the pillars of security, integrity, privacy, and flat out doing the right thing for the right reasons. Of course, there are huge egos and there will always the anomalies to every model, but hey, I’ve only been involved in this space for 32 years, so what do I know? We will always have the “Rogue Warriors” and “World’s #1 Hackers” (You know who you are!) out there, but they are few and far between, and are called out fairly rapidly by those in the trenches doing the real work about which we’re so passionate.

You can’t go at it alone. Your contract awards will be scarce if you try to “eat it all” by yourself. Now ask any penetration tester, security professional, or white hat hacker if they can get into “System X,” and of COURSE the answer will almost always be a very zealous “Definitely! No Problem! Piece of Cake!” while in MOST cases, they won’t do it alone.

One of the messages that resonates within the infosec community is the spirit of partnering. Most of the successful companies and leaders realize that “Everything as a Service” is failing platform. We’ve all seen the vendor booths at Black Hat, RSAC, InfoSec World, Data Center World… etc. [Insert Any Expo/Trade Show Here], where the vendor claims they can “do it all” in one easy, convenient platform that scales up to the big picture for executives and down to technical details for the security team! When you try to nail these vendors down to core competencies, their scripted response is to try to identify which problems you’re trying to solve… and voilà!... That just happens to be at the core of the offering.

Tony will be speaking on this topic at the 2016 Threat Intelligence Summit taking place in New Orleans from Dec. 6 to 8. Click here for more information or to register to attend.

This post isn’t an attempt to poke any single company in the eye, but insomuch as you wouldn’t likely reach out to a hardware vendor to migrate your financial management software solutions and collapse them into a single solution set after an acquisition, it wouldn’t be wise for you to think you could build an entire enterprise hardware/software solution through a single vendor. Sure, there are quite a few out there who will convey that message to you until you sign that contract…. Then they will reach out to their own partners to begin executing the work.

One of the principles of leadership, as taught in all military service training institutions, is to Know Yourself and Seek Self Improvement. In addition to business integrity, you need to recognize your core competencies, focus on them, and either outsource or ideally partner with companies you trust then build relationships with them. Over time, your professional networks build synergy, and your reach extends further than you could have ever imagined by just going at it alone. It’s extremely important to trust but verify at all levels, and continuously ensure your partners aren’t a liability to your business model because of differing business morals and ethics.

Developing threat intelligence in a cohesive, sustainable model is no small undertaking. Working with a variety of disparate sensornet services, clearinghouses, and data aggregators is paramount to building and delivering a relevant, resilient threat model.  The challenges in this space are endless but not insurmountable when you recognize and embrace the value (and necessity) of partnering and embracing a well-researched, disciplined trust-model. Will it be all rainbows and unicorns? Of course not. Nothing ever is in our industry. But when you put down your guard and embrace the partnership model, you open up a number of opportunities your organization has, in many cases not been able to imagine in previous years’ strategy development cycles.

Antonio A. (Tony) Rucci, 
Counterintelligence Special Agent (Retired), Information Technology & Technical Security Consultant

With more than 32 years of counterintelligence and security experience, as a retired Counterintelligence Special Agent and US Army Warrant Officer, Antonio A. Rucci (Tony) followed his dream and as started his own company, /Root Technology, and was approached for acquisition in just 13 months! After serving as Chief Security Officer for two independent companies since, Tony now owns and operates Insider Threats Consulting.


Get daily email updates

SC Media's daily must-read of the most current and pressing daily news

By clicking the Subscribe button below, you agree to SC Media Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.