The Cyber Why: What We Read This Week...
... and why you should too! (11/29/23)
Last week, TCW released a deep thought piece entitled “The Next Era of Cyber Security Capabilities.” It’s had a fantastic pickup, being shared more than any other piece we’ve published thus far. Thank you so much for reading, enjoying, and sharing TCW, particularly that article, with your friends and network!
The drama at OpenAI entirely overran this week’s news cycle. I’ve included a deluge of content around the topic because it touches on everything from board coups to executive loyalty to AI sentience and robots taking over the world. With such a mishmash of interesting reading on that topic alone, we only had space for three additional stories. The top few are an homage to Charlie Munger, ransomware busts, and OKTA trust, and last but not least, in cybersecurity startups, the product market fit just isn’t enough! Go forth and read on for this week’s update.
Are your employees practicing safe SaaS?
Find out with Nudge Security. After a quick one-time set up with your email provider, Nudge Security discovers and categorizes every SaaS and cloud account ever created by anyone in your org, including generative AI. No agents, browser plug-ins or network proxies required.
View all apps, user accounts, SSO & MFA enrollment status, OAuth grants, and more. Get alerted as new apps are introduced and view up-to-date intelligence on your SaaS providers’ breach histories and security posture. Start your free trial.
Help us get to 5,000 subscribers! Please pass this on to one friend! Keep TCW growing!
OpenAI Coup - The Story of the YEAR!
OpenAI’s Sam Altman exits as CEO because ‘board no longer has confidence’ in his ability to lead (CNBC)
OpenAI announces leadership transition (OpenAI Blog)
A timeline of Sam Altman’s firing from OpenAI — and the fallout (TechCrunch)
A Short History of OpenAI (Chamath Palihapitiya)
Who Is Mira Murati, OpenAI’s New Interim CEO? (Wired)
Sam Altman Wants AGI as Fast as Possible, and He Has Powerful Opposition (Daniel Miessler)
Who Controls OpenAI? (Bloomberg)
OpenAI's firing of Sam Altman and billionaire Marc Andreessen's reaction (Fortune)
Sam Altman returns to OpenAI in a bizarre reversal of fortunes (CNN Business)
The Mystery at the Heart of the OpenAI Chaos (Wired)
OpenAI researchers warned board of AI breakthrough ahead of CEO ouster, sources say (Reuters)
Sam Altman to Return as CEO of OpenAI (Wired)
Sam Altman’s polarizing past hints at OpenAI board’s reason for firing him (Seattle Times)
Given this story's vast coverage, we MUST open this week’s newsletter with our thoughts and typical snark around the OpenAI firing and rehiring of CEO Sam Altman.
The timeline is long and confusing, but the final story is that Sam Altman's firing from OpenAI was primarily due to internal board disputes, a lack of consistent candor from Sam to the board, and general communication issues, and his rehiring was driven by a strong reaction from employees, regrets from crucial figures, pressure from investors and partners, and recognition of his critical role in the company. Eventually, multiple temporary CEOs were anointed and shoved aside as Sam returned as SUPER ALTMAN and took over everything in a crazy coup.
The problem is that nobody REALLY knows what happened to bring down the ban hammer at the world’s most impactful AI company. Rumors are all over the place, including commentary on Sam’s naughty past, issues with board structure and profit vs. non-profit approach to the business, a discovery of a sentient AI called Q*, and a lack of incentive alignment amongst the leadership.
We likely won’t know exactly what happened until decades from now when a machine AI author writes a tell-all book about the history of artificial intelligence and the machines that took over the world!
PS: If you haven’t seen Terminator 2.. go watch it RIGHT NOW!
One Of The Greats Passes On - R.I.P Charlie
Rest In Peace, Charlie.
He was one of the greatest investors and businessmen of all time. Right up there with Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Vanderbilt - his name must live on in history books. He was that good! Charlie Munger knew how to make money. He got connected with the GOAT of investing, Warren Buffett, when Warren was 29 years old, and they never once fought while making billions of dollars in value for themselves and their clients.
Charlie played the straight man to Warren’s sometimes irreverent commentary. He is often seen as the second in command to the general of the Army, but in reality, he was the leader who made the general successful. To honor Charlie, here are three of his best quotes - you can check out the article above for many more. Enjoy.
“The iron rule of nature is: You get what you reward for. If you want ants to come, you put sugar on the floor.”
“It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.”
“I always say I want to know where I would die so I can never go there.”
The Good and Bad - Busts and Lack of Trust
Key Cybercriminals Behind Notorious Ransomware Families Arrested in Ukraine (The Hacker News)
Okta says security breach disclosed in October was way worse than first thought (CBS)
Okta cyberattack: all customer support data exposed in breach (Tech Monitor)
The individuals responsible for the LockerGoga, MegaCortex, and Dharma ransomware family have been arrested in Ukraine. It’s believed that this team has hit over 1800 victims across 71 countries in the last four years. And you know what.. it doesn’t matter that they got BUSTED!
This won’t even dent the insane number of Ransomware attacks that happened in 2023. It doesn’t matter how many of these teams of criminals they take down, there will always be others that pop up to replace them. Cybercrime will continue as long as there is money to be made and nefarious individuals with technical chops around to go after it. See the quick hit frombelow for more ransomware shenanigans!
On another gloomy note - The team at Okta has publicly acknowledged that a data breach occurred in their support system and affected all of their customers, not just 1% of them. That’s a big difference. Enterprises take note - this is NOT the optimal way to provide notice of a breach. This news cycle would have died out ages ago if they hadn’t stretched out the details over two whole months.
It’s Not Just PMF - It’s P*F!
To succeed, cybersecurity startups need to be triple fit (Venture In Security)
In the over-invested world of cybersecurity startups, success hinges on mastering a trio of fits: founder-problem fit, product-zeitgeist fit, and product-market fit (PMF). Founder-problem fit emphasizes the necessity for founders to possess expertise aligned with their specific cybersecurity niche, not just generic experience. Product-zeitgeist fit involves nailing the timing in a fast-evolving market, balancing between being too early or too late. Lastly, PMF is about creating a product that meets a significant, paying market's needs rather than just generating initial interest or hitting early revenue goals. If you don’t get the fit right for each of these, you likely won’t succeed. Check out’s much better analysis of these fits in this great article!
Quick Hits and Hidden Gems
Ransomware on the Rise — Again (The Reformed Analyst) - Katie Teitler’s take on Ransomware. I hate the term “ransomware” as it’s a result of an attack and not a problem itself, but Katie’s take is right on what we must do to lessen the risk of being affected.
Security without stagnation: What I've learned from mentoring startups (Cloudflare) - Interesting piece from Tom Parker, CISO Kayak, on mentoring. He covers how-to, conflicts of interest, and return on value. It’s a good quick read.
Platform Consolidation In Cybersecurity: A Palo Alto Networks Case Study (The Software Analyst Newsletter) - Nice deep dive fromon PANW’s market approach. I’m a fan!
If you’ve made it this far, you either found our musings at least semi-entertaining, OR you enjoyed the pain and kept going regardless. No matter how you made it to this point, you should know that we appreciate you. Please do us a solid and share The Cyber Why with your friends. We would love to reach a bigger audience, and referrals are how we do it. Help us out, and we’ll see you next week!