Earlier today, this was making the rounds on twitter:

It’s a cute-looking manga-style comic about team Sapheads’ experiences with the “Binary 300″ challenge in the Defcon 17 CTF pre-quals.  It’s kind of entertaining, and looks informative, if a bit engrish-y.  I scrolled through it quickly, bookmarked it, and planned to give it a good read later.

At first glance, I especially liked that there was a female character on the team, which I thought could be a very positive thing.  That is, until I saw this making the rounds on twitter later today:

…the above is a discussion of the “Tiffany” character in the comic strip, who turns out to be a ridiculously stereotypical depiction of how some view women and computer security research.  Not only is “Tiffany” an offensive stereotype, she’s a terribly one-dimensional and annoying character, only serving as a foil.  She asks questions about what’s going on to give the other characters a chance to go into detail, acts all confused, and that’s about it.  I suppose the other characters are just too l33t to be able ask those questions of each other.

As far as I can tell from the original Binary 300 write-up and anything else I can find out about the Sapheads, the comic’s characters aren’t based on their actual team line-up.

The author of the Female Stereotypes post also relates her own experiences of how she’s treated as a female in security research, and it’s very eye opening.  I highly recommend reading it, as well as the original PDF writeup of the Sapheads attempt at this challenge.

Edit: The author/artist of the comic updated the page to apologize and explain.  In future comics on other challenges, the “Tiffany” character will serve a more useful role than “cheer-leader”.  It turns out that there is no female member of the Sapheads team, and that the character is based on a famous Korean singer.

  4 Responses to “Binary 300 comic strip ruckus”

  1. Sometimes I’m glad to miss some news. :) But it’s nice to hear about that apology after the fact. And it’s true; there is still plenty of derision or bad karma (I’m putting it very nicely!) about females in security or even IT…unfortunately, it will only take time for that to go away.

    Even minority hate is still present, as I am regularly reminded on Xbox Live and hearing teenage boys say…pretty much anything they want.

  2. It’s perhaps late, but that “security researcher” who’s disappointed in seeing a person of her sex playing a none-leading role in a comic completely missed the entire context of the comic. (Probably because she wasn’t able to keep up.) But, as everybody has agreed it was very entertaining. Still, It’s very sad to see an artist/group have to change their art because of someone else’s insecurities.

    But regardless, I originally wanted to post this link as it brings up some other good points from someone who’s capable of writing something factual. Plus, imnsho, Nikita has written more factual and technical things than shyama rose and her primitive tutorials on process scheduling.

    Nikita’s response ->

  3. [...] Wesley McGrew gave a typically level-headed assessment. [...]

  4. pseudo-anon, the argument you make is a logical fallacy called “ad hominem.” The quick Wikipedia definition is that this is “an argument that attacks the person who holds a view or advances an argument, rather than commenting on the view or responding to the argument.” Your argument does not at all address the actual topic, and instead pits Nikita v. Shyama, which as far as I can tell, is a non-issue. Regarding Shyama’s technical output, the “tutorials” you reference through your quick google search appear to be something like a school assignment. Also, it looks as though she’s produced other papers, articles, and written for the Uninformed Journal. If you are going to argue a point that is a logical fallacy, at least do your homework. Regardless, one’s technical output does not correlate to how they should or should not be treated in public. If you are going to present arguments, please stay on topic.

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