Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Rogue One Sequel already being filmed!

There’s some really interesting leaked photos and analysis by Charles Goodman. “Leaked photos from the Rogue One sequel (Mainly Speculation – Possible Spoilers).”


Rogue One: The Best Star Wars Yet?

Someone once asked me why I like Star Wars more than Star Trek. I was a bit taken aback, and he assumed that since I use it so much, I obviously prefer it. The real reason I use Star Wars is not that it’s better, but that there’s a small canon, and I don’t have […]


Security Lessons from C-3PO

C-3PO: Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1. Han Solo: Never tell me the odds. I was planning to start this with a C-3PO quote, and then move to a discussion of risk and risk taking. But I had forgotten just how rich a vein George Lucas tapped […]


"The Pentesters Strike Back"

Offered up without comment: Star Wars Episode IV.1.d: The Pentesters Strike Back from CyberPoint International on Vimeo.


Cybersecurity Lessons from Star Wars: Blame Vader, Not the IT Department

In “The Galactic Empire Has Terrible Cybersecurity,” Alex Grigsby looks at a number of high-profile failures, covered in “A New Hope” and the rest of the Star Wars canon. Unfortunately, the approach he takes to the Galactic Empire obscures the larger, more dangerous issue is its cybersecurity culture. There are two errors in Grigsby’s analysis, […]


Governance Lessons from the Death Star Architect

I had not seen this excellent presentation by the engineer who built the Death Star’s exhaust system. In it, he discusses the need to disperse energy from a battle station with the power draw to destroy planets, and the engineering goals he had to balance. I’m reminded again of “The Evolution of Useful Things” and […]


What Good is Threat Intelligence Going to do Against That?

As you may be aware, I’m a fan of using Star Wars for security lessons, such as threat modeling or Saltzer and Schroeder. So I was pretty excited to see Wade Baker post “Luke in the Sky with Diamonds,” talking about threat intelligence, and he gets bonus points for crossover title. And I think it’s […]


Seattle event: Ada's Books

For Star Wars day, I’m happy to share this event poster for my talk at Ada’s Books in Seattle Technical Presentation: Adam Shostack shares Threat Modeling Lessons with Star Wars. This will be a less technical talk with plenty of discussion and interactivity, drawing on some of the content from “Security Lessons from Star Wars,” […]


The Death Star: An Inside Job?

Here’s a Friday Star Wars video for you. As Austin Hill tweeted, “Conspiracy revealed! 7 min video that will change the way you think about one of the important events of our lifetime”


Why the Star Wars Prequels Sucked

It is a truism that the Star Wars prequels sucked. (Elsewhere, I’ve commented that the franchise being sold to Disney means someone can finally tell the tragic story of Anakin Skywalker’s seduction by the dark side.) But the issue of exactly why they sucked is complex and layered, and most of us prefer not to […]


Systems Not Sith: Organizational Lessons From Star Wars

In Star Wars, the Empire is presented as a monolith. Storm Troopers, TIE Fighters and even Star Destroyers are supposedly just indistinguishable cogs in a massive military machine, single-mindedly pursuing a common goal. This is, of course, a façade – like all humans, the soldiers and Officers of the Imperial Military will each have their […]


My AusCert Gala talk

At AusCert, I had the privilege to share a the gala dinner stage with LaserMan and Axis of Awesome, and talk about a few security lessons from Star Wars. I forgot to mention onstage that I’ve actually illustrated all eight of the Saltzer and Schroeder principles, and collected them up as a single page. That […]


Cello Wars

For your holiday amusement: Thanks, Jeff!


So cute!

There’s just something about skinny girls in pouffy skirts…and stormtrooper helmets. More at


Saturn's Moon Enceladus

NASA claims that: At least four distinct plumes of water ice spew out from the south polar region of Saturn’s moon Enceladus in this dramatically illuminated image. Light reflected off Saturn is illuminating the surface of the moon while the sun, almost directly behind Enceladus, is backlighting the plumes. See Bursting at the Seams to […]


Saltzer, Schroeder, and Star Wars

When this blog was new, I did a series of posts on “The Security Principles of Saltzer and Schroeder,” illustrated with scenes from Star Wars. When I migrated the blog, the archive page was re-ordered, and I’ve just taken a few minutes to clean that up. The easiest to read version is “Security Principles of […]


Entering Our Prime

Today is amazingly enough the fifth anniversary of Adam starting this blog. It’s amazing how fast time flies when things are chaotic. Seems like just yesterday Adam was doing the initial Star Wars posts. Appropriately enough the most recent in the category was just this past Saturday. Thank you to all of our readers for […]


Leia With a Pearl Earring

This and other less subtle Star Wars/classical art mashups are at Star Wars as Classic Art. (Originally.) Thanks, Stepto!


You Have Confused Me for the Last Time!

I love these boots, via “BoingBoing gadgets.” They’re transgressive on so many levels. Star Wars geek versus fashion. Military versus sexy. I’m glad George Lucas isn’t an obsessive control freak who hunts down anyone who adopts the visual language that he created.


Family Guy Does Usability

A funny clip for Saturday. I can’t figure out how to embed the video here, so click on the picture to be taken to Gizmodo.


Fake Steve and Real Mackey

So with the small, literal men at the New York Times poking through the veil of anonymity that allowed Fake Steve to produce the best blog since “The Darth Side,” we have a serious threat to the stability of the republic, which is the false hope that by assigning people names, we can control them. […]


"You Don’t Need to See His Identification"

Well, here we are, on a list of top influencers in information security, and we’ve barely said welcome to any new readers! Welcome! If you’re just showing up, we’d like to influence you to understand that identification rarely solves security problems by itself. I posted “You Don’t Need to See His Identification,” using a famous […]


Powerpoint Plans

It’s the scenes Lucas was too scared to film! The actual presentation, with voice overs. At


Han Shot First: DVDs, Debugged.

In response to overwhelming demand, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release attractively priced individual two-disc releases of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Each release includes the 2004 digitally remastered version of the movie and, as bonus material, the theatrical edition of the film. That means […]


Relentless Walking

You two and your obsession with modern entertainment. Get out, and go for a walk to Rivendell. If you are going to insist on watching movies, at least go see some real ones. (Image is “Descent to Rivendell, by John Howe, from


I find your faith disturbing

Adam, I learned of the flick via a blog unrelated to either Star Wars or computing, so no need for Google. Not to get all “vi vs. emacs” on you, but I never understood the fascination with Star Wars. :^) Photo cred: kemikore


You Have Failed Me For the Last Time

Chris, I can’t believe you mentioned Snakes on a Plane, and failed to link to a blog called “I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing,” whose article, “Snakes on a Motherfucking Plane” is like the 3rd hit on Google. I mean, really! Its not like you had to look hard to find that. Do I […]


On Treatment of Prisoners and the Face of Evil

Establishing villainy is hard work. Too little, and your villains seem pathetic. Too much, and they’re over the top. Even drawing deeply on Joseph Campbell and with the music of John Williams, Lucas still needs actions to show that Darth Vader is the embodiment of evil. What does he choose? The first time we see […]


"Contrasts in presentation style"

“Contrasts in presentation style: Yoda vs. Darth Vader” is brilliant! How can I not love a mash-up of what you do and Star Wars?


Friday Star Wars and Psychological Acceptability

This week’s Friday Star Wars Security Blogging closes the design principles series. (More on that in the first post of the series, “Economy of Mechanism.”) We close with the principle of psychological acceptability. We do so through the story that ties the six movies together: The fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker. There are four […]


Friday Star Wars: Open Design

This week and next are the two posts which inspired me to use Star Wars to illustrate Saltzer and Schroeder’s design principles. (More on that in the first post of the series, Star Wars: Economy Of Mechanism.) This week, we look at the principle of Open Design: Open design: The design should not be secret. […]


Star Wars and Separation of Privilege

As we continue the series, illustrating Saltzer and Schroeder’s classic paper, “The Protection of Information in Computer Systems,” we come to the principle of separation of privilege. Separation of privilege: Where feasible, a protection mechanism that requires two keys to unlock it is more robust and flexible than one that allows access to the presenter […]


Star Wars and Least Common Mechanism

Today, in Friday Star Wars Security blogging, we continue with Saltzer and Schroeder, and look at their principle of Least Common Mechanism: Least common mechanism: Minimize the amount of mechanism common to more than one user and depended on by all users [28]. Every shared mechanism (especially one involving shared variables) represents a potential information […]


Star Wars and the Principle of Least Privilege

In this week’s Friday Star Wars Security Blogging, I’m continuing with the design principles from Saltzer and Scheoder’s classic paper. (More on that in this post.) This week, we look at the principle of least privilege: Least privilege: Every program and every user of the system should operate using the least set of privileges necessary […]


Friday Star Wars and the Principle of Complete Mediation

This week in Friday Star Wars Security Blogging, we examine the principle of Complete Mediation: Complete mediation: Every access to every object must be checked for authority. This principle, when systematically applied, is the primary underpinning of the protection system. It forces a system-wide view of access control, which in addition to normal operation includes […]


Friday Star Wars: Principle of Fail-safe Defaults

In this week’s Friday Star Wars Security Blogging, I’m continuing with the design principles from Saltzer and Scheoder’s classic paper. (More on that in this post.) This week, we look at the principle of fail-safe defaults: Fail-safe defaults: Base access decisions on permission rather than exclusion. This principle, suggested by E. Glaser in 1965 means […]


Episode III Released on DVD

Q. Do friends and family ever ask you [Frank Oz] to do Yoda on their phone answering machines? A. Yep. And I always say no. He’s not a party trick. He’s not a trained monkey. And I’m not a man like Mel Blanc, who’s a brilliant man of voices. I’m a man of characters; I […]


Star Wars: Economy Of Mechanism

Before I start on the Star Wars part of today’s Friday Star Wars Security blogging, I need to explain who Saltzer and Schroeder are, and why I keep referring to them. Back when I was a baby in diapers, Jerome Saltzer and Michael Schoeder wrote a paper “The Protection of Information in Computer Systems.” That […]


"The Force Is Strong In My Family"

In Friday Star Wars Security blogging, I was planning to start on Saltzer and Schroeder this week. But I’m going to detour a bit into genetic privacy (and Star Wars, of course). I’m inspired in part by an interview over at GeneForum with bioethicist Insoo Hyun. Hyun is studying cloning with the South Korean team […]


Daniel Cuthbert's Chewbacca Defense

We take a break from our regularly scheduled, deeply-movie-focused, Friday Star Wars security blogging to mention the Chewbacca defense, and its interplay with a story that’s floating around. First, if you’re not familiar with it, “The ‘Chewbacca Defense‘ is a satirical term for any legal strategy that seeks to overwhelm its audience with nonsensical arguments […]


"Where is that Shuttle Going?"

VADER: Where is that shuttle going? PIETT (into comlink): Shuttle Tydirium, what is your cargo and destination? PILOT VOICE (HAN)(filtered): Parts and technical crew for the forest moon. VADER: Do they have a code clearance? PIETT: It’s an older code, sir, but it checks out. I was about to clear them. In modern cryptography, a […]


"Remains Safely Anonymous"

People seem to dig Star Wars posts. I could probably blog for a month on security lessons, illustrated with Star Wars quotes, but I’d need to buy the DVDs and get some video capture technology, and … …ok. You’ve convinced me. Friday Star-Wars-security-lessons-blogging it is. Ben: The “other” he spoke of is your twin sister. […]


You Don’t Need To See His Identification

If you’re a jack-booted thug, one of the saddest moments in Star Wars is when Obi-Wan Kenobe and Luke Skywalker slip past the Imperial Stormtroopers, out looking for stolen property. Had the Stormtroopers been a little more on the ball, all of those innocents on the Death Star would still be alive. You may not […]


Two There Are Always (Plus a Freebie)

Gizmodo asks “Am I the only one extremely disappointed by the fact that these upcoming Lucas-approved USB keys don’t offer a Han model?” No, you’re not. I’d get me Han in Carbonite to protect my data any day. I bet Wil Shipley would to. Anyone who can explain why Anakin went to the dark side […]


Star Wars Posts

Lileks bleats: When you switch to the Dark Side, do you have to go to Sith HR to fill a bunch of forms? If the Jedi Council finds out you’re looking to switch sides, they send guards to make you empty out your desk and escort you out – or at least they used to. […]


Small Bits: Wives Vs. The Dark Side, Diamonds, FRCA, Brill & Lexis-Nexis

VikingZen posts her Two Cents about Revenge of The Sith, and closes with: My big question: Why didn’t Padme just release a can of whoop-ass on her husband? I mean, they’re secretly married, the guy’s off in some outer galaxy playing space cowboy while she’s lugging around a pregnant belly full of twins? How about […]


Only Two Cheers for the Jedi?

Bryan Caplan takes issue with his mentor, Tyler Cowen over “The public choice economics of Star Wars: A Straussian reading. (I also commented on that post). Caplan says: After Anakin’s betrayal, the remnant of surviving Jedi reveal their “secret and mysterious ends.” They turn out to be neither secret nor mysterious. Yoda and Obi-wan take […]


The Altered Deal

In “…And Another Thing: Those Jedi Children Were a Threat,” Gene Healy refers to the Weekly Standard review of Attack of the Clones, with its famous defense of the Empire. Make no mistake, as emperor, Palpatine is a dictator–but a relatively benign one, like Pinochet. It’s a dictatorship people can do business with. They collect […]


About Episodes 7, 8 and 9

Stuart Berman reminded me of the original plan, which was a 9-episode epic cycle for Star Wars. At some point, Lucas made the decision to allow others, the novelists, the game creators, and even the fans to define what happens after Return of the Jedi. It was a brilliant choice. The original Star Wars was […]


Darth Vader Doesn't Use a Keyboard

But if he did, he’d be all over the new Das Keyboard, in pure modernist black, without any decoration, like letters printed on the keys. Because sometimes you just need to signal that you’re so…ummm….cool…that you don’t need letters on the keys. (Via Daring Fireball, who points out that it’s “marketed to “übergeeks” who might […]


Can We Talk Sith Yet?

I mean, really. If you mind spoilers, you’ve seen Revenge of The Sith already. Ok, maybe not. So I’ll just throw a few comments out. Marginal Revolution discusses The public choice economics of Star Wars: A Straussian reading. I’m surprised that Tyler misses the Hayekian aspect. That is, other people’s choices are so complex that […]