The Con and the Hypercon

by Mark Mateski on October 18, 2014

For those of you who missed our presentation at BlackHat this year, let me introduce you to three terms I use to characterize deception:

  • Eye-to-eye: A game in which both (all) players see the same game. No players assume that any other player sees anything different.
  • Con: A game in which at least one player holds a perceptual advantage over the others.
  • Hypercon: A game in which at least one player sees through the con and thus holds a perceptual advantage over the “conning” players.

Note that any of these perceptions can be wrong, which can make things very interesting. The potential for the con and hypercon (perceived and misperceived) always exists. Sophisticated strategists and red teamers look to guard against and exploit the possibilities inherent in this potential.

The Will to Win

by Mark Mateski on October 18, 2014

Here’s another post from the RTJ archive, this time from Dec. 2003. It nicely complements my piece on the 2003 decision to go to war. I think the ideas in “The Will to Win” hold up well today, though I have to admit I’ve grown more cynical in the intervening 11 years.

      While most observers admit that the so-called war on terrorism will be a long war, few have discussed openly the possibility of defeat. On one hand, this is sensible; too much talk of defeat can undercut our conviction and corrode our will. On the other hand, we must anticipate the roads that lead to defeat in order to avoid them.
      Before I discuss these roads, I should state at the outset that I am addressing the long-term, strategic implications of the conflict here; for now, I have set aside the tactical and operational implications, which I admit are both manifold and daunting. Even so, I am confident that our tactics and operational skill will-over time-prove good enough to win. I am less confident in our nation’s strategic vision and stamina, and without the requisite vision and stamina, even the most brilliant tactics and operations will fall short. Read on …

On Red Teaming and Leadership

October 17, 2014

If you’ve been reading RTJ lately, you’ll have noticed that we’ve emphasized leadership as a critical aspect of succesful red teaming. Even the most brilliant and inspired red teaming is useless without intrepid leadership. (See, for example, RTJ Red Teaming Law #35.) In fact, we believe it’s better to have mediocre red teaming and outstanding […]

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Sometimes Chicken Little’s Right

October 15, 2014

As everyone now knows, Ebola is a confirmed risk in the United States. Whether you regard the current stream of Ebola news as “Chicken Little” hysterics or not, you’d be foolish to ignore it entirely. Remember, most risk practitioners define risk as the product of likelihood and consequence. In this case, the likelihood is going […]

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The Retrograde Strategy

October 15, 2014

In today’s fast-moving competitive environment, we often suffer from short-term thinking. For example, we tend to leap at the next great thing (with all its proverbial bells and whistles) before we appreciate the cost, performance, and technical risks. Yes, taking risks can pay off, but taking uninformed risks is a formula for down-the-road pain, even […]

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The ‘Guerilla Red Team’

October 15, 2014

Our friends at redteams.net have introduced an interesting new feature on their site: the “Guerilla Red Team.” They will be collecting and sharing red teaming stories, filtered and edited for OPSEC concerns. Join in the fun here.

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Three New Red Teaming Laws

October 14, 2014

If you haven’t seen them yet, here are our three most recent Red Teaming Laws: Law #35 (“Lion”): Behind every successful red team stands a leader who will not bend to whim, coercion, or fear. We need this sort of leader as much as we need superior red teamers. Card. Law #36 (“The Nap”): Complacency […]

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A Father’s Lament

October 10, 2014

My second daughter was born in 2001. As long as she can remember, the United States has been at war. If she’d been born in, say, August 1941, she might not even remember V-J Day; she’d just be turning four. Now she’s 13. For her, U.S. troops engaged overseas is the norm, and she’s worried […]

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Why You Need a Joe Sutter

October 7, 2014

Joe Sutter was the chief engineer on the Boeing 747. He worked hard; stuck by his guns under fire; and consistently did what he thought was right, even when doing so risked his job. His account of the design and building of the 747 is a must read, not just for engineers but for managers […]

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Just Can’t Shake This Thought …

October 3, 2014

Anyone else feel like we've created systems far more complex than we can manage? The tale of The Sorcerer's Apprentice keeps coming to mind. — Red Team Journal (@redteamjournal) October 2, 2014

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