This is not for fandom, ladies and gentlemen. This is for survival in the real world.
This is for the grown ups. For the connoisseurs and students of all things security and strategy. For the risk-intelligent. For ruthless problem-solvers intellectually curious enough to think beyond the strictures of labels. Labels leading people to assume what a security strategist is/isn't.
CSO Online has a useful Valuable Security Lessons from Game of Thrones piece. But as with most security work written from a Western perspective, it erroneously assumes security is all about tech, hacking back, etc. Which is why we keep getting hacked simultaneously as we implode.
Real security strategists understand that even Cyber War is misunderstood by most IT security pros. Security strategists can walk and chew gum at the same time. That is to say, they understand how the art of seduction, persuasion, minutiae of otherwise boring political or geopolitical matters, strategy, or human relations just to name a few, are all part of ONE security umbrella.
I don't watch TV. But one fan's petty attachment to the hit series' characters made me decide to finally watch it. And I've been quietly, often correctly predicting most of the plot line ever since.That's why with regard to definitions and applicability, ignore everything google searches and the business job descriptions feed unimaginative minds about what security strategy is or isn't. Security strategists almost naturally think backwards. They don't live in an offensive or defensive ONLY, either/or binary world. Being long-term thinkers, they understand adversaries, can adapt to, or even make adversaries telegraph their intentions even as THEY fine-tune their mitigation(s).
A good security strategist, for our purposes, is a risk-mature individual who solves complex problems using an ever-developing arsenal of strategic and tactical skills, with security as their ultimate goal.
That security could be financial security, business security or startup survival in a cutthroat industry or in a foreign country, mental security, food security; travel security (see CyberWar link above), or critically, long-term family/personal stability. Hence, my favorite 2019 quote so far is a relevant“Divorce is like going through a terrible recession.” And a good security strategists understands, and will warn you that leaders who make the mistake of committing, or exposing themselves to the wrong partner, especially at the worst possible time, suffer tragic consequences. See quotes #5 and below.
But whether you find them in business, cyber security, national security or other leadership roles, security strategists share similar traits. They are likely paranoid in a healthy kind of way because they know that: “There is no such thing as paranoia. Your worst fears can come true at any moment.”
They understand how life works. How: “Sometimes paranoia's just having all the facts.” That, winners always begin with security in mind. And in that sense, wherever you see or hear of people or a nation in some kind of misery, being duped, etc. you can be sure security strategists are at work. For good or ill. And Game of Thrones allows one a glimpse of good ones (i.e., The Lannisters) up to no good.Security strategists see through the smokescreen. Especially in a time when it's not just average netizens, but even journalists, recruiters and so-called 'experts' are suffering from comprehension disability. Google it. Reading and misinterpreting what one reads, watches, or tunes into exposes one to threats too. And what makes the Lannisters “good” is what makes strategy execution the ultimate skill.
As Susan Jacoby said way back in 2009: “Without a strong body of knowledge, the more time we spend looking at things on screens, the less smarter we become...Finding information on computers is important only if you have a 'body of knowledge' that enables you to judge what's true and what's not.” Importantly, a security strategist appreciates that the Lannisters are ONLY tactically “good” because compared to their competition, which is naïvely hung up on words like “honor” they are not.
That's why in this 2nd installment of Strategic Deception Mitigation, I share with you 10 carefully selected most actionable and powerful quotes from Game of Thrones, from the standpoint of a good security strategist. To connect to the leadership manifesto, connect to previous editions.
However, do note that any obvious omission or quote truncation indicates need for nuance. Meaning, I either don't agree, or believe it'd be misleading to include without discussion with (not your beer buddies, clique or colleagues, but) expert security strategists. Happy to engage on Twitter or consult. For now:
The house that puts family first will always defeat the house that puts the whims and wishes of its sons and daughters first. A good man does everything in his power to better his family's position regardless of his own selfish desires. —Tywin Lannister (to Tyrion Lannister)
Oh, we all do our duty when there's no cost to it. Honor comes easy then. YET sooner or later in every man's life THERE COMES A DAY when it is not easy. A day when he MUST choose. ―Maester Aemon Targaryen
Love didn't just happen to us. We built it slowly over the years. Stone by stone, for you, for your brothers and sisters. For all of us. It's not as exciting as secret passion in the woods. But is it stronger. It lasts longer. ―Catelyn Stark (to Robb Stark)