Re: Pre-Scanning for Marketing

On Tue, Jan 10, 2006 at 10:10:52AM -0500, Password Crackers, Inc. wrote:
> I am interested if anyone on the list has ever tested or implemented a
> marketing program that involved pre-scanning (wired or wireless) a prospect
> and then sending a letter or email describing potential vulnerabilities and
> offering assistance in closing these vulnerabilities. I have never done
> this because of the anticipated negative reaction, but I am curious as to
> what the outcome was if anyone else has done it. Single instances would be
> interesting, but I am more curious if anyone has implemented this in a more
> broad-based way and has positive and/or negative response rate statistics.

Even if you put aside the ethical issues, I think it's going to be

Over time I've done unsolicited poking around of networks who probed me,
or of organizations I had some affinity for, and found problems. I have
reported them in great detail, including both technical aspects and the
real-world impact ("I can see your My Documents"), urging them to talk
to their local security consultant to get this address. I specifically
disclaimed any trolling-for-work aspects (I've never taken a paid
engagement from an unsolicited security report).

These reports could never have been confused with a threat, a shakedown,
or a solicitation for work, and it didn't require taking my word
for anything -- any competent computer user could have verified it.

My response rate is about 80% make no reply of any kind, 10% are grateful
and fix the problem. 5% are grateful but don't fix the problem, and 5%
are outright *hostile* and treated me as the bad guy.

Example: Some years ago I found that the ACM - a group who ought to have
had some kind of clue on appreciating security issues - had a totally
wide open network at their headquarters. I send a long, detailed note
with the details, and I was told to *get lost*.

I persisted and convinced them that they had a problem, and they very
reluctantly allowed me to help them fix it for free. There was a lot
more they should have fixed, but it was clear that they were reticent
to look at this. I wasn't getting anything out of it, so I gave up.

This kind of thing has happened so often, so consistently, that I stopped
sending unsolicted reports: why bother?

I think that attempting to turn this into engagements is likely to
be really unsatisfying.


Stephen J Friedl | Security Consultant | UNIX Wizard | +1 714 544-6561 | Tustin, Calif. USA | Microsoft MVP | steve@xxxxxxxxxxx

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