Security and the Great Game of Fly-Fishing

The blog postings have been a bit thin over the last week as I’ve been fly-fishing for wild brown trout in North West Sutherland. (Not Sunderland, I should add, as a journalist once misquoted.) Mobile reception is weak in this part of the UK but you can just about get a GPRS signal if you sit in a car directly below an aerial mast.

You might think that fly-fishing has little in common with Information Security. But you’d be wrong. The competition for secret information is intense, as people from all walks of life – engineers, builders, sea captains, diplomats, company directors and knights of the Realm – contend for the satisfying honour of catching the most impressive fish of the week.

It takes a lifetime to master the hill lochs of North West Sutherland. There are many hundreds of lochs and lochans. Some have big fish, some have small fish and many have no fish. Beginners are usually given a few tips and than left on their own to discover the best fishing by trial and error, logical deduction or espionage. Keen regulars will search out out-of-the-way lochans with no fish and breed their own private stock fish within them. It takes years to grow trophy trout specimens. Secrecy is paramount and intelligence of the locations of these vintage stock ponds is priceless.

This is the Great Game of fly-fishing. Espionage, fraud, bluff and double-bluff are rife. Conversations are in hushed tones to prevent eavesdropping. Successful fisherman are tracked or tailed. Maps are secretly stolen and copied. And information security is the tightest I’ve ever encountered. That’s because the motivation to behave securely is always highest when the consequences of success or failure are personal, immediate and certain.

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A bad day of fishing is better than a good day of work.