Thursday, June 24, 2004

Interesting Email from Stephen Northcutt... or not?

If you're on a SANS mailing list you might have received the following email from "Stephen Northcutt." I haven't decided if it's true or not. I'm wondering why I would have received it, unless someone forged the message after acquiring a SANS email list? The alternative means Stephen Northcutt himself is making some odd claims...

"From - Thu Jun 24 22:27:26 2004
X-UIDL: 40a19c3900000b29
X-Mozilla-Status: 0001
X-Mozilla-Status2: 00000000
Received: from ( [])
Date: Fri, 25 Jun 2004 2:14:37 +0000
Message-Id: <>
From: Stephen Northcutt
Subject: Stephen Northcutt needs your help
Precedence: bulk
To: Richard Bejtlich (SD599258)


This note is intended for U.S. citizens and is a personal note from Stephen Northcutt. For the past few weeks CERT and SEI, DoD government funded organizations, have been purchasing google adwords so that when people search for "SANS Training" they see an advertisement for CERT/SEI's network manager course.

I have a couple of concerns about this. The first is trademark or brand related, when you search for SANS training, you should get SANS training. Other competing commercial training companies have also engaged in this behavior and when I have written them and asked if this how they want to be remembered by the security community, they have discontinued this practice. I wrote a couple weeks ago and they continue this practice.

My second concern is that the government offering the course violates the spirit and letter of OMB A 76. "Two of the key principles of Circular A-76 has always been that "in the process of governing, the Government should not compete with its citizens" and that "a commercial activity is not a governmental function."

The course:

The funding:

My third concern is the amount of tax we pay as citizens. The government is in the process of authorizing about 481 billion dollars for DoD spending. The Department of Defense clearly has too much money if they can afford to create training that mirrors material widely available from SANS, MISTI, CSI, Intense School and other training organizations. I believe the money spent on CERT, SEI and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics should each be reduced by at least 10% immediately.

So I am asking for your help. If you agree with me please write your congress person and either use this note as a base or write your own. I would be honored if you would copy me, If you don't agree with me, or don't want to help me, that is fine, but before you send me a knee jerk email flame would you do three things. Look at your last paycheck stub and remind yourself how much tax you pay, second, consider the impact of the U.S. deficit ( ) and finally think about how you would feel if the government decided to compete in a disreputable manner with a course that took you months to write, SANS Security Leadership. After that, if you disagree with me, I would love to hear what you have to say. So please help me and write your congressman and tell them your home address, make sure they know you vote and you agree that the government has no business wasting taxpayer money competing with a course Stephen Northcutt does a better job of anyway.

To find your representative:

To find your congressional representative, the best link I could find is:

Thank you for taking the time to help! Needless to say, I write this note as a private citizen and the author of SANS Security Leadership and am certain this note does not reflect the collective views and opinions of The SANS Institute.

Stephen Northcutt
(808) 823-1375"

This sounds like a hoax to me... can anyone confirm it? "...make sure they know you vote and you agree that the government has no business wasting taxpayer money competing with a course Stephen Northcutt does a better job of anyway." If this is a true statement by Stephen, I'd be surprised.

1 comment:

Serg said...

In the Internet there are a lot of swindlers. It is necessary to be cautious