Empower Those Who Stand, Forgive Those Who Stumble

Jan 21, 17 Empower Those Who Stand, Forgive Those Who Stumble

My Hat

My hat is not black. It is not white, either. It is not even gray. Its a technicolor-dream hat full of creativity. My technicolor-dream hat contains my “spark”. My “spark” lead, and continues to lead, my path. My decisions, or lack there of, has helped navigate my “spark” throughout my life, but just like a hiker does not shape the terrain they travel, my “spark” did not have a say in the terrain it started to wander in.


My Spark

My “spark” has been responsible for many of my highs and my lows in my life. It has also created a few scars along the way. I am fortunate that a criminal record was not one of those scars as I hunted for my “spark’s” outlet. This was certainly not from a lack of trying, though. My “spark”, like so many others, has lead me down paths that sometimes landed me close to the “go directly to jail” square. I was fortunate to have rolled just the right numbers to avoid those squares growing up. Now, I am fortunate to have sandboxes for my “spark” to wander within. Who knew people would actually want me to break their stuff for them?

There are, however, many who are not as fortunate to have this safe outlet, especially at an young age.

My “spark”, like others, was not, and is not, a criminal. It’s just curious. My “spark” is excited about the possibilities. It’s a thrill seeker! But, unlike other thrill seekers, it doesn’t want to just ride the rollercoaster. It wants to see what happens if we add some extra loops to it, jack up the voltage, and mess with the hydraulics. (Side note: if there are any amusement park operators that are interested, my contact info is below.)

My “spark” is many things, but it is not a criminal. It’s just mine, and many others, “predisposed-condition.”


Our Epidemic

Information security, as an industry, is in the grips of an epidemic and it revolves around those with this “predisposed condition”. The disease? Employment.

Although it doesn’t start there. The condition has many stages, and the last stage ends in full-blown case of “employment”. “Employment” can last for years, even decades. Myself, along with many others, all have the first stage of the condition. The “spark”.

There are many carriers of the “spark”. Some have had the “spark” since birth. Some acquire it later in life. The “spark” acts as a catalyst in the “spark-carrier” causing the “spark-carrier’s” brain to start synthesizing elements known as “skill sets”. These “skill sets” start accumulating in the “spark-carrier’s” brain.

The accumulation of “skill sets” in this stage makes the “spark-carrier” vulnerable to “employment opportunities”.


Opportunities for the Taking

The information security industry happens to have an abundance of these “employment opportunities”. The information security industry also has a special mix of magic that makes our collective “sparks” tingle. This mix causes “spark-carriers” at this stage to be highly susceptible to acquiring “employment” if they expose themselves to these “opportunities” repeatedly while accumulating “skill sets”.

Once a carrier has accumulated a number of “skill sets” it is almost certain to turn into a case of “employment”. The critical mass of “skill sets” seems to vary according to the “employment opportunities”. The “skill sets” range in number from few to many and in breadth from broad to narrow.

Once a carrier has acquired “employment”, it appears the condition alters the “spark-carriers” brain. It seems to cause them to appear happy with their condition. Some real Stockholm syndrome-type stuff here. Some “spark-carriers” have even exhibited behavior that would suggest a desire to increase the rate that the condition is being spread.


We Need More Faster

There are strong indicators that the condition has reached a critical mass within the industry. It is estimated that all “spark-carriers” with the critical mass of “skill sets” have almost all developed a full case of “employment”. This number appears pinned at 100%, and is often represented in its inverse value as 0% unemployment.

It is estimated by the U.S. Department of Labor that number of “spark-carriers” infected by “employment” will continue to grow at a rate that is 2.5 times the average of other occupationally related conditions. It appears the only growth rate that would rival the rate of “employment” would be the growth of “employment opportunities”. A report compiled by Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that number of “employment opportunities” will reach 1.5 million by 2019. This indicates that persons that are predisposed to the “spark” will likely contract “employment” once they begin accumulating “skill sets” in a meaningful amount.


“Mistakes were made.”

Research shows there may be hope to slow the rate of “spark-carriers” developing “employment” and cripple the “employment” epidemic once and for all. There is research to suggest that certain carriers of the spark may be immune to “employment”. A pattern has been observed between carriers of the “spark” and a unique event that appears to render the “spark-carrier” immune to “employment”, in many cases.

The event that was able to be identified was if the “spark-carrier” has ever been given a tour, usually involuntarily, of the interior of a law enforcement bookings department.

This event can sometimes cause the “spark-carrier” to acquire additional attributes. These attributes have several different names such as infractions and misdemeanors. Crimes against federal laws, also known as felonies, often carry heavier sentences. This, of course, is not always the case. The naming and degree of these elements can vary by country as well. Instead of debating the finer points let’s simply call them infractions using the literal translation. Which according to Google, an infraction is “a violation or infringement of a law, agreement, or set of rules“. Which except for the word “law”, is fairly accurate summarization of my current job description.

Infractions are often detected by the “employment opportunity” by a vector known as a “background check”.


Look to your Left, Look to your Right

Astonishingly, according to a national survey, one in three Americans has been arrested before the age of twenty-three. There are chances these numbers may even increase given the current political climate as “spark-carriers” engage in activities, such as civil disobedience. In addition, other “spark-carriers” may find themselves in trouble stemming from confusion over the varying laws surrounding the decriminalization of controlled substances in various regions. These and other scenarios may aid in more and more “spark-carriers” being unintentionally vaccinated against “employment”.

Although reports indicate that 33% of the population are already building a natural defenses to “employment”, more can still be done!


We Can Do More!

Organizations can choose to use any and all infractions to influence their decision concerning “vaccinating” a candidate against their “employment opportunities”. This is a simple technique and it does not require much thought from the organization to implement.

As an industry, I believe we could safely agree that something that is overly simple and implemented without much thought is almost certainly flawed. We, also, rarely do things because they are simple. We do them because they are hard and they are worth doing.


Analysis Required

There are a number of infractions that stand out as being poor indicators of character. Infractions that, if viewed from a different angle, may demonstrate a “spark-carrier” being brave, being scared, or simply stumbling while searching for an outlet for their “spark”.

It is a difficult challenge, if not impossible, to isolate the exact infractions that would be appropriate across all sectors, at all times, for all contexts. It would be an over-simplification to the problem to even attempt to do so. Instead I appeal to all organizations, not already doing so, to take action! Reflect upon your core values and do the hard task of letting that which does not matter truly slide.


Be Safe,


P.S. To my fellow “spark-carriers” still finding your way, I leave you with words that have truly inspired my life, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” (Ms. Frizzle, The Magic School Bus)

Featured Image By MAKY.OREL – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php

Brian Cardinale

Founder at Sunflower WIFI
Information security professional and full-stack software developer with over 10 years experience in enterprise software solutions.

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