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The security industry is full of cartoon characters, monster-sized egos, and clashing personalities. It just happens to be the three characteristics that attract Bill Brenner (@billbrenner70), blogger at CSO Online, to the people in the security industry.

At the Security B-Sides conference in San Francisco, Brenner and I chatted about how people in the security profession actually talk to each other.

What Brenner has seen is disagreements in security can degenerate into name calling. Arguments can quickly go from “I disagree with you” to “you’re an imposter” or “you’re a charlatan.” And when it gets personal, it’s not helpful to anyone.

What Brenner would like to see more of is constructive debate that can get heated, but stays in the realm of the concern for the issues, not attacks on the individuals.

Brenner points to a very famous public debate regarding PCI DSS between Mike Dahn and Josh Corman. The two were arguing the validity of PCI and Corman compared the regulation to “No child left behind.” Dahn is a staunch supporter of PCI.

It came close to personal attacks, said Brenner, but what became really valuable about the debate were all the discussions that sprung out organically all around the world on this very topic and still go on today.

In order to get more examples like this, we need more personalities that are passionate about their work. In the end it’s extremely valuable because you get a lot of really useful discussion out of it, said Brenner.

Stock photo of arguing geeks courtesy of Shutterstock.