be prepared – don’t be the last one to the battlefield

Whoever occupies the battleground first and awaits the enemy will be at ease; whoever occupies the battleground afterward and must race to the conflict will be fatigued. Thus one who excels at warfare compels men and is not compelled by other men. -The Art of War, Chapter 6: Emptiness and Fullness

I expect Andy to post this up as well, since I think it can definitely be one of those rallying (or frustration) cries we have in security…and we both have the same calendar sitting on our desks!

I wasn’t sure about including that last line. The first two lines resonate throughout IT security from testing/planning your disaster recovery plans to being ready to detect and mitigate incidents to simply making sure logs are scanned for the first sign of an enemy. The last line still makes sense as we sometimes do need to dig our heels into the ground and make sure our management knows the score and the risks (properly) so they can be compelled by us to be prepared…otherwise they are compelling us into letting go of the preparedness.

Kurt’s comment put that last line into a better light for me and totally makes sense. No wonder if felt a little “off” earlier! Thanks!

3 thoughts on “be prepared – don’t be the last one to the battlefield

  1. i tend to think of myself as a bit of a student of sun tzu and if i’m not mistaken the context of that last sentence actually suggests that it is better to force your opponent to engage you on your terms than to be forced to engage on his/her/its terms… in IT security i suspect that speaks volumes to the value of being prepared and having adequate technical (and probably physical) controls in place…
    when you’re talking about management, i suspect a better section would probably be from ‘chapter’ 3 (quoting ):
    12. There are three ways in which a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army:–
    13. (1) By commanding the army to advance or to retreat, being ignorant of the fact that it cannot obey. This is called hobbling the army.
    14. (2) By attempting to govern an army in the same way as he administers a kingdom, being ignorant of the conditions which obtain in an army. This causes restlessness in the soldier’s minds.
    15. (3) By employing the officers of his army without discrimination, through ignorance of the military principle of adaptation to circumstances. This shakes the confidence of the soldiers.
    all 3 of these are rooted in ignorance amongst decision makers – something you definitely want to correct if/when you encounter it… i think that may suit your intended meaning better (unless you want an adversarial relationship with management)…

  2. Aha! I think you are correct, Kurt! That makes that sentence less odd and makes more sense in the context of the full quote.
    I’ve long put off getting my hands on a full copy (one with analysis, perhaps) of The Art of War.

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