A few weeks back our family went to the beach to have a week of rest and relaxation. We have a longstanding tradition when we go to the beach of digging a big hole near where our chairs and umbrella. This was born out of a need to contain our youngest son when he was just a little one. We would dig a hole big enough that he couldn’t climb out and wide enough so he had his own sandbox.  It may seem odd to you, but my kids enjoy it and that is what counts.

This year we took a little different to our hole digging. I should note that my youngest is 4 years old and no longer requires her own sandbox so the hole is more to stake our claim on the beach than for containment. On the first day we dug a hole as deep as we could, and on the second day we did the same but made sure it was at least eight to ten feet long. Now to answer a burning question I know you have, no we didn’t move our spot each day on the beach. The tide came up so high and so strong, as the full moon was out, the previous days hole would be completely refilled with sand. We would have a pristine beach to create something new each day.

It was on the third day that a new challenge was made. As I was digging out the beginnings of the hole my wife said “so how are you going to top yesterday?” I was stumped, I mean I could dig a moat the whole way around our beach gear but that didn’t seem too difficult. Then my youngest son, who we started digging holes for in the first place, said why not make a maze. The six year old had made the challenge and I had to make it a reality. He set to work drawing an outline of the maze and my 8 and 11 years old set to work digging. When it was done we had seven levels, the deepest being 5 feet in depth, and trenches that covered an area about 15 feet by 20 feet. We sat back and reveled in our creation, then went back to our condo and watched the tide take it away.

We skipped a day, and then on day five an six created new patterns in the sand a little bigger than the last. Kids from families around us would come over and play in the trenches or help us dig a new part. People walking down the beach would comment on our work, but only three phases were ever reused. The best comment came from a lifegaurd ridding down the beach on a four wheeler. He pulled up to the hole, peered over the edge and said “WOW! That is cool!” and then drove off. And each evening when we went in, someone would come over to the spot and stake a claim to it until the waters erased our days work.

Hello, where is the Security in this!

I am sure you are thinking “why am I reading a tale of your vacation.” There is security here, and now I will explain. Over the last year I have read blog posts and tweets regarding the futility of what infosec people do. We spend so much time building solutions only to have them almost immediately circumvented by someone determined to get at our data. You get the sense “why even try” has become the infosec mantra. Just like the ocean’s tide coming in and removing all my days work, we wake up each day to fight more infosec battles. The difference between what I did and what people complain about in infosec is I expected the end result. Yet knowing I would have to start fresh each day, I was inspired to create something new from scratch.

The other popular phrase in infosec currently is “It is not if, but when.” Knowing this, we need to come to work each day with the idea we are going to fight a new fight but what we learned from the day before will make the new days task stronger and better. We grow through failure, and as long as we have mitigated the risk of loss from that failure we can only get better. If we come in each day thinking “I already fixed this”, we set ourselves up to just repeat the previous days actions. Don’t just come to work each day ready to start over, you need to come ready to innovate ways to not just stop the current new threats, but threat others haven’t even thought of yet. Our passion to rebuild, innovate, and take on adversity will ensure that those who want our organizations crown jewels only get the costume jewelry.

The next time you are at the beach I challenge you to go dig or build something cool knowing the tide will take it away, then come out the next day and do it all over again. It just may be the therapy you have been looking for.

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