Blue Team – The Song

In the world of penetration testing, as I’m often involved in with ROS, those taking on the role of attackers are referred to as the “red team”, and those defending as the “blue team”. Red team people are often regarded as the rock stars of INFOSEC, but one key difference is that red-teamers only have to succeed in their efforts once, whereas blue-teamers have to succeed every time. Unfortunately, when the blue team succeeds, nothing notable happens, so they don’t get much of the glory.

This song is a tribute to the unsung heroes of the blue team; Gotta keep out the bad guys, baby!

Unsurprisingly, the “gotta keep out the bad guys” line was about the first thing I thought of, and everything stemmed from that. There were lots of blue-teamy things I could have written about, but I preferred to keep it short. The string-bend bass riff was the first bit of music, then the funky guitar parts, though I ended up dialling them back a bit in favour of some chuggy rhythm guitar. As in my other tracks, I was keen to use Synthesizer V for vocals, and the backing vocals came out really well. I wrote the lead guitar solo, then thought a higher vocal part alongside it might work, and it was also a chance to have a dig at the red team; it’s my favourite bit of the song.

There are a lot of guitar parts overall (all played by me), and only some small pad and organ keyboards for backing. I was especially happy that I managed to pull off the more aggressive bass parts and the lead solo. As usual, the drums were all done with Logic’s Drummer instrument, which does a great job without getting drunk and falling asleep during rehearsals, and its excellent “follow” mode meant that the drums could match what I’d played on the bass, rather than being some disconnected pattern.

As usual, I’m not too happy with my vocals (PRs welcome!), but Logic’s Flex Pitch editor works enough magic to get the job done. This track could really do with someone that can get a bit more grungy in the verses, with a hint of Elvis for the chorus.

Don’t break a sweat
from a constant threat.
We’ve got the tools to meet them
and firewall rules to defeat them.

We’ll take our time
to build our defences.
No need to be concerned,
we know the consequences.

They’re going to attack
our networking stack,
but we can keep them guessing as
their port scans come to nothing.

Because, I’m on the blue team, baby,
we’ve got to always win.
Gotta keep out the bad guys,
can’t ever let them in.

Come join the blue team, baby,
we need your awesome skills.
Come watch that bad actor
try to guess my second factor.

Oooh red team stays outside,
don’t want you here.
Just go away
and don’t come back.
You’ve gotta find another way.

Alarm bells ring
from a tripwire’s string.
Logs tell a sad, sad story
of a search for a way in.

SOC screens flash
for a matching hash
We’ve seen this one before
and there’ll be many more

That’s why I’m on the blue team, baby, (ooh yeah)
we’ve got to always win. (blue team, blue team)
Gotta keep out the bad guys, (ooh yeah, gotta keep out the bad guys baby)
can’t ever let them in.

Come join the blue team, baby,
we need your awesome skills.
Show your strength, let it shine,
help take those APTs offline

We’re on the blue team, (ooh yeah)
got to always win. (blue team, blue team)
Gotta keep out the bad guys, (ooh yeah, gotta keep out the bad guys baby)
can’t ever let them in.

We’re on the blue team, baby,
we’ve got to always win.
We’re the unsung heroes.
(gotta keep out the bad guys, baby)

If you found this entertaining, please check out my other musical efforts, and spread the joy on social media (I’m and @SynchroM). More usefully, if you can sing (or play something) and would like to be involved in musical projects like this, please get in touch, as I could really use your help!

Butter crinkle crunch biscuits revisited

A while ago I wrote up my attempt at making a copy of Fox’s butter crinkle crunch biscuits, which are no longer available to buy. In that article I mentioned various things I thought I’d try, and others commented with some suggestions, so I thought I’d revisit the recipe.

Update 2023-03-14: there is a revised version of this recipe.

Since then I have obtained some “Uncle Roy’s” butter flavouring (triacetin). I found that the recommended 5–6 drops did nothing, but I got a reasonable amount of butteriness with about 60 drops (about 1.5 tsp)! Unfortunately the carrier solvent for this flavouring (Monopropylene Glycol) tastes quite harsh and bitter, and a hint of it remained in the end product. Uncle Roy’s offers a “super strength” version of this flavouring that might reduce this effect.

The other suggestions were to reduce the amount of sugar, add more oats, and to add milk powder. There was also a suggestion to use ammonium bicarbonate as the raising agent, but I couldn’t find that.

Unfortunately, putting all these together didn’t work very well. The dough ended up quite dry, though sticky enough to hold together. I think this prevented the raising agent from working properly, as they remained stubbornly flat while cooking, so I think adding some liquid (perhaps a bit of water or milk) or increasing the butter a bit, would help give the baking powder somewhere to react. This drying might have been an effect of adding the milk powder and increasing oats.

Not quite butter crinkle crunches

While I say “unfortunately”, they are still quite nice (I mean, just look at the ingredients!). I think next time I’ll lower the temperature and cook them a bit longer to give more chance for the solvents to boil off, and the raising agent to do its thing, aiming for a more consistent crunchy texture.

Just for reference (as I don’t recommend following this exactly!), here is a revised ingredients list; the instructions remain unchanged from before:

  • 175g white flour
  • 50g white sugar
  • 25g dark muscovado sugar (adds a slightly caramel-y taste)
  • 60g oats (porridge, not jumbo)
  • 50g milk powder
  • 125g butter
  • 50g golden syrup
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1.5tsp of butter flavouring
  • 1/4tsp vanilla powder
  • A small bowl of Demerara sugar (cassonade in France) for rolling

If you have a go at these, please leave a comment, as I’d love to know if you manage to do any better!