Getting Personal: The Meaning Behind the Adversarial Mindset
From my university days studying intelligence, counterterrorism and criminal law, to my nascent career in the defense/security industry, through the decades long journey of becoming a veteran in the industry and watching it ‘grow up’ from being a specialized niche to being the hottest field to be in - I’ve watched the trends come and go. With pop culture elevating the industry around the concept of hacking, tradecraft and spy-craft, to professional services and consulting firms jumping on the bandwagon to sell the latest buzz words; one of the biggest failures has been our industry falling into the trap of promoting ‘the cloud’, ‘ethical hacking’, and the limiting and mis-labeling of ‘red teaming.’
Uri and I have spoken about this tirelessly on the Red Team Podcast so I won’t dive into that here. We also talk about the mindset, why it’s important and how one utilizes it. Over the past year of recording, it’s clear that we are getting the message out; however, there are many out there that still constrain how they define red teaming or don’t really understand the mindset. I say this while fully acknowledging there’s no right way to interpret red teaming as it takes many forms; however, our goal has been to expand on the concept as we feel by the current labels and definitions provided for it, we as an industry have been constraining, diluting and misrepresenting it.
This led me to researching how to promulgate these concepts in different ways that are extremely meaningful to me, both in my personal and professional life. Where I come from is important to me for many reasons: cultural identity, pride, and history being the primary drivers. While researching my genealogy and familial history, I came across the Norse and Celtic heritage that is now represented in my personal take/branding of the Adversarial Mindset.
Working with an amazing illustrator, Sosh (@soshillustrations), I was able to find a partner that shares my passion for bringing concepts and theory to life through art. I came up with the idea of having a viking skull with ᛞ Dagaz and ᚾ Naudiz runes but had never been able to bring it to life until now.
Dagaz represents one's breakthrough or awakening through awareness. It symbolizes clarity, the power of change directed by your own will, growth and release, the balance point, and the place where opposites meet. Two ᚲ Kenaz runes (observation, clarity and improvement) join with two ᛁ Isa (focus, self-control) runes to form hyper-consciousness, Dagaz.
By recognizing and understanding self-limitations and having awareness of your surroundings...the atmospherics; embracing the concept of Dagaz, one is able to adapt and overcome the opposite of what is intended or the assumed; the conceptual adversary.
Naudiz represents innovation, self-reliance, and the power to overcome distress, confusion and conflict. The opposite of Naudiz, Merkstave, signifies the constraint of freedom, distress, deprivation, and need. Aim for NAudiz and don't be limited by the application of Merkstave by others, yourself, or the environment.
Through Naudiz and Dagaz, one is able to adapt the Adversarial Mindset to approach existence with an open mind that promotes questioning, and challenging assumptions, even your own.
The Skull and Runes design represents these concepts and serves as a reminder to seek and understand with an open mind, approaching everything through questioning while considering the worst outcomes so you cannot just plan but be ready for the worst-case scenario.