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Jack Daniel: 3 Books that Changed My Life
Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 February 2015 09:03
Written by jj
Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

In this series, I asked infosec professionals to name 3 books that changed their life. This entry features picks from Jack Daniel, the self-proclaimed security curmudgeon and peer-described “glue” of our industry.

Perhaps best known as the co-founder of Security BSides, there are many accolades of Jack’s professional success, and I might say the more subtle, softer side of Jack is often overshadowed by his well-developed curmudgeonly persona. The short version is that he wins awards, does great things, helps lots of people, and will never turn a blind eye or hurried goodbye to a friend in need. He does all this while sporting an exceptionally long beard and skeptical brow, both of which he’s well known for. (more…)

Getting Involved in the Community- Join us live or later on Dark Reading Radio 2/18
Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 February 2015 05:21
Written by jj
Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Wednesday, February 18th at 1pm Eastern- listen live, or download and enjoy later, as Josh Corman and I join Dark Reading’s Tim Wilson, Sara Peters, and Curtis Franklin to challenge listeners to get more involved in the security community.

How To Get More Involved In the IT Security Communityimage-dark reading
with Jennifer Minella and Josh Corman on Dark Reading Radio
Date: 2/18/2015 1:00 PM New York/10:00 AM San Francisco
More information and registration

How can security professionals better engage with their peers, both in person and online? In this Dark Reading Radio show, we will talk to leaders at some of the security industry’s professional organizations about how security pros can get more involved – with their colleagues in the same industry, with their peers in other industries, and with the IT security community as a whole.


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Dave Kennedy: 3 Books that Changed My Life
Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 February 2015 08:12
Written by jj
Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

In this series, I asked infosec professionals to name 3 books that changed their life. This entry includes picks from our favorite as-Seen-on-TV security consultant, author and friend, Dave Kennedy.

Dave is another person I’d consider to be a bit of an anomaly in our world; combining finely-tuned technical skills with a keen business sense. He’s just one of those guys you can’t help but like. An ex-Marine… err, sorry… a no-longer-active-duty Marine, husband and father, Dave loves long walks on the beach, Dr. Who, and videos of cute animals. I didn’t know what to expect from Dave on this assignment; given his varied background, business success, and strong family values, his picks could have spanned any topic. If you want a chuckle, know that Dave responded with a full narrative and photos to my initial request in less than 22 minutes. I emailed back to ask if he happened to have a top 3 book list waiting around, but he didn’t; he typed it all that quickly. Always the over-achiever! (more…)

Illena Armstrong: 3 Books that Changed My Life
Last Updated on Tuesday, 3 February 2015 11:03
Written by jj
Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

In this series, I asked infosec professionals to name 3 books that changed their life. This entry features picks from Illena Armstrong, editorial mastermind behind SC Magazine.

You don’t work in the information security industry for long before you see Illena’s name everywhere. We’ve met in passing many times, and I am always struck by how down-to-earth and accessible she is. One thing you’ll notice about Illena immediately is an uncommon balance of strength and softness — yang and yin, if you will. The energy that exudes from her is simultaneously calming, exciting, and somehow familiar, so she immediately came to mind while compiling professionals for this “3 books” series. As you’ll see, Illena made it a “5 books” post; but, like her, I couldn’t possibly narrow down her five to three. Her notes to this effect are left in tact below; they made me laugh, and I think you’ll appreciate them.

Now, we get to explore these decidedly non-tech picks from our industry’s most recognized editor for information security news. Here’s what Illena shared:

book-illena-photo01 book-illena-photo02
At the infamous Sloppy Joe’s in Key West Inside Hemingway’s house

To name three influential books is tough. There are an astounding number of them across many genres that are significant to me in some way. But, the characteristics necessary to the task of brevity, which I frequently employ day-to-day, escape me in undertaking this exercise. I did try.

book-illena-01-oldmanandsea 1. The Old Man & the Sea

Ernest Hemingway is my main man. The concision and depth of his writing is astounding. The shelf life of his stories’ many teachings is irrefutable and the grays of right versus wrong laid out in them are made with an undeniable force. Of all his tales, I call out The Old Man & the Sea What I took from it has much to do with maintaining strength in moments of great adversity, the idea that persevering means to be fulfilled by the achievement of a long-sought-after goal and, more importantly, the journey to get there even if the resulting fruits aren’t plain to others.

book-illena-02-rulesforoldmenwaiting 2. Rules for Old Men Waiting

Peter Pouncey only wrote one fictional novel as far as I know. And while I long for more from him, I wonder if he’d ever be able to pen something so beautiful, rare and layered as Rules for Old Men Waiting. Not only are the rules that the main character, MacIver, shares worthy of some thoughtful reflection, but so are the two different stories he tells in this one slim book. To me, they show that the strength, soundness and fortitude of one’s character combined with the long-lasting honesty, support and love we give to those we cherish can be a mighty powerful force – maybe the most powerful

book-illena-03-assaultontonys 3. Leaving Las Vegas, Stripper Lessons and The Assault on Tony’s

John O’Brien and the three of his four books I’ve read and re-read – Leaving Las Vegas, Stripper Lessons and The Assault on Tony’s (his last, Better, was published after his suicide and I’ve not put my hands on it just yet) are something of a revelation in showcasing the human condition. In his stories as in life, one’s mental and moral courage or its absence, along with characteristics like empathy, resilience, love, sincerity and many more, can inform choices and dictate the kinds of imprints we leave behind. These are concepts I always like to keep close.

book-illena-04-tokillamockingbird 4. To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird gives us the principled Atticus Finch who unwaveringly stands on the side of integrity and what’s right even when he’s shoring up that side virtually alone. It provides us with the curiosity, thoughtfulness, moxy and genuineness of Scout, who’s trying hard to follow her dad’s lead. There’s the quiet, observant might and caring of Boo Radley who risks his own safety to protect those who most need it. For me, an amazingly important book.

book-illena-05-nocountryforoldmen 5. No Country for Old Men

Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men was one of those books that came along at just the right time. From it I reaffirmed and took comfort in something I already knew but somehow forgot: That a great fire loved ones helped me build and maintain from my start always would light a way for me “in all that dark and all that cold,” even if I no longer had the comfort of their physical presence to bolster me.

I could go on, for sure (I’ve not talked about Sylvia Plath, Raymond Carver, Charles Bukowski and so many others), but I risk boring you already. Maybe there are a few titles here, though, that pique your interest. Your interpretations of these stories may differ from my own, but I’m hoping your takeaways will be just a strong, helpful and, maybe, revelatory.

Ways to find Illena Armstrong:

Go to “3 Books That Changed My Life” series introduction post.

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Bill Brenner: 3 Books that Changed My Life
Last Updated on Sunday, 1 February 2015 11:53
Written by jj
Sunday, February 1st, 2015

In this series, I asked infosec professionals to name 3 books that changed their life. This entry includes picks from journalist, writer and podcaster Bill Brenner.

When I set out seeking contributors for this piece, one of the first people that came to my mind was Bill Brenner. Throughout the years, Bill has been someone I (and many in the industry) admire for his insights, willingness to help others, and his unabashed sharing of his own personal struggles through his writing in The OCD Diaries. At this personal blog site, Bill shares his challenges, failures, and successes with relationships, depression, disease, and his faith — sub-narrated by tunes that demonstrate his undying love for metal music.

Bill’s career in journalism and editorial positions has capitalized on his gift of telling meaningful stories – now we get to hear his story, told with the same care and charisma. If you visit Bill at The OCD Diaries, please visit my favorite section under the inspiration tag.

As Bill says, “It’s about staring adversity in the face and making it blink. It’s about becoming better — on our own and together.”

In an ode to the Bill’s unmatched strength in this journey, I happily kick off this series with his list of “3 books that changed my life”. Here’s what Bill shared:



1. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders

This book was my first introduction to the idea that there’s evil in the world, and that the evil can touch good people who are twisted along the way. I re-read it constantly as a young reporter. For a journalist covering the courts and cops beat, there is no better education into the criminal justice process.

billbrenner-book02-roosevelttrilogy 2. Edmund Morris’s Theodore Roosevelt Trilogy Bundle: The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Rex, and Colonel RooseveltTeddy Roosevelt was a guy who dealt with staggering adversity, including a childhood of sickness and the death of his mother and first wife hours apart. Edmund Morris brilliantly illustrates Roosevelt’s journey through grief and how he remade himself into the titan we all know of today. These books inspired me to move beyond my own episodes of adversity.
 billbrenner-book03-heroinediaries 3. The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock StarI’ve always been a huge Motley Crue fan, and this book, by Crue bassist Nikki Sixx, captures diary entries he wrote during the year of his deepest descent into heroin addiction. The book taught me that there are common threads in all addictions, including the ones I suffered from. It was one of the first lessons that addiction is merely a symptom of a larger problem — a hole in the sufferer’s soul. I also love the honesty of the book. Sixx invites various people from his life to comment on the passages throughout the book.

Ways to find Bill Brenner:

Go to “3 Books That Changed My Life” series introduction post.

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