The Devil’s Dictionary, InfoSec Edition

Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary is a wickedly witty piece of work (and website). It slyly redefines common words and phrases, usually with a bitter, contrarian, or comic touch. But why should Mr. Bierce (or more correctly, his estate) have all the fun? It is time for one in the information security field. Here are a few nominations. Most of these are original, but a few were gleefully filched from others:

ALE: an intoxicating liquor that gives imbibers perceived omniscience and discernment, but with one unfortunate side effect: it causes their pants to spontaneously fall down

Advanced persistent threat: a security product manager hyping new categories

Blended threat: a hemlock smoothie

Claims: a more expensive form of assertions, officially sanctioned with George Orwell’s posthumous blessing. cf “flatbread” v. “pizza”

Collective intelligence: the dawning epiphany that the cyber-villains have already won

Data leak prevention: adult undergarments for stopping electronic incontinence

Device control: using Super Glue to plug holes in the sides of laptops

Full disclosure debate: a ritualistic Kabuki performance that ends with a fist-fight amongst members of the audience

Actionable: providing information of sufficient detail and clarity to enable one party to sue another* 

Full disk encryption: spray-on auditor repellent

Non-repudation: a word invented in 1995 to describe what technologists believe will happen when they multiply two large prime numbers together

Patch Tuesday: the day before Zero-Day Wednesday

PKI: the technological equivalent of The Rapture, coming next year to bring salvation to lost souls

Secure development lifecycle: a trivia game for which the rules keep changing, and that Microsoft always seems to win

ThreatCon: A vendor-sponsored malware early warning system that resembles the US DHS terrorism warning system, but whose status changes are much more arbitrary

Web application firewalls: bandages that are approximately the size and shape of a rack-mounted server

No animals were harmed in the compilation of this list. Egos, perhaps.
*Author’s note: this is actually what “actionable” means.
As always, I welcome your comments.

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