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Kentucky Fraud Kickin’.

The Internet and mobile devices and related gadgetry have brought so much incredibly useful stuff into our lives that sometimes it’s hard to imagine how on earth anyone managed without it before. You know, purchasing airline tickets and checking in, online shopping and banking, multi-device data sharing, keeping the kids occupied on the backseat of the car with a film on their tablets (in my youth you just sat there or played I Spy). But I digress, and so early on in this post…

Alas, along with all the good and helpful stuff to make life easier, the Internet’s brought us other stuff – bad stuff that’s harmful and dangerous. Malware, spam, hard-to-trace cybercrims, cyberweapons, etc., etc. There’s also Internet fraud, which is what I’ll be writing about in this post, or – more to the point – how to combat it.

But let’s start with the basics: who suffers from Internet fraud?

Consumers? Well, yes, but not much compared with businesses: the brunt of the cost of online fraud is taken by banks, retailers, and in fact any online operators.

The brunt of the cost of online fraud is taken by online operators

A few figures to illustrate the scope of Internet fraud:

  • In 2012 in the United States alone, direct losses from online fraud came to $ 3.5 billion;
  • Those losses were made up of about 24 million fraudulent online orders;
  • Almost 70 million orders were cancelled due to suspicion of foul play.

All rather alarming.

Online financial fraud

In the meantime, are online operators generally taking any measures against fraud?

Of course they are. Plenty!

Read on: budgets, people but not the right tools…

Magdeburg: AVant garde.

There’s a Russian saying that translates roughly something like ‘live a century, you’ll be amazed for a century’. Meaning, I reckon, that when you think you’ve seen it all, you in fact won’t have. For me, this applied to the trip I made to the city of Magdeburg recently, for it did just that – amazed.

On the whole the place is a little dull and provincial (in my opinion, that is; but then again – I do live in Moscow most of the year :). There’s the river (the Elbe, but here it’s still quite meager), the impressive banks thereof, the equally impressive walls of the castle (restored) and the gothic cathedral. There’s not a great deal besides that. Apart from one feature that makes up for all that dullness…

In the center of the city there’s a totally incongruent large residential/commercial building known as the Green Citadel of Magdeburg. Just check out the colors, shapes and patterns! You seen anything quite like it?

The artist responsible for this architectural aberration is Friedensreich Hundertwasser, a Gaudi for the late 20th century. This is just one of the many buildings he transformed into a masterpiece across central Europe – in his totally original and mind-blowing style.

This Austrian was a true maverick, so I’m a fan for sure. He believed that folks shouldn’t live in box-like houses that are all the same, and that inhabitants should be encouraged to paint or in some other way change the walls around them. And that meant interior walls too. He was also into converting disused factories into avant garde pieces of art.

Enough words. Now for some pix:

magdeburg-1

More: What were we doing here in the first place?

A 3-D printer in a wet Bavaria.

Hallo ihr alle!

In London it was dry and sunny, but not far away in Central Europe they were completely washed out with heavy and persistent rain. And that included Bavaria: gray skies and seemingly endless intermittent precipitation – nothing like what you’d normally expect in June.

We were in Germany – just outside Munich – attending the annual 24 Hours Conference VIP-shindig organized by Deutsche Telekom – in a rather fine ancient chateau. This is a get-together where a very heterogeneous selection of delegates from lots of different countries representing lots of different industries discuss the most burning issues of the day and share their dreams for a better future for all. Like :).

Munich_Germany_24_hours_conference1

Of course, they had me in the room with ‘Security’ written on its large oak door. But while looking for this room we passed quite a few others with interesting ‘themes’ on their doors. One of the most intriguing ones was ‘3-D Printers’. I was more than just a little curious, so poked my head round the door. And lo and behold, there one stood – a 3-D printer – in the flesh!

Basically it’s a cube-shaped frame inside which a secured hose moves about emitting a thin stream of liquid plastic, which slowly builds up… whatever it’s programmed to – well, so long as they’re small plastic knick-knacks. You can see some such knick-knacks next to the printer in the photos:

Munich_Germany_24_hours_conference_3d_printer1

More: What industries would disappear first with the advent of high-quality 3-D printing?…

One step forward, two steps back.

“Everything ought to happen slowly, and out of joint, so we don’t get above ourselves, so we remain miserable and confused”

Venedikt Yerofeev. Moscow Stations

I never thought I’d ever use this phrase when talking about the antivirus industry, but that’s what it’s come to. You know, not everything in this world progresses smoothly. Economic realities and the need for new customers often manage to lure even the best over to the dark side. This time, one of the best-known test labs in the AV industry – AV-TEST – has succumbed.

Comparative testing: A bit of background for the uninitiated

How do you go about picking the best of any particular product? And how do you know it’s the best? Well, you would probably start by looking at the results of comparative testing in a specialist magazine, or the online equivalent. I’m sure this is not news to you. The same goes for AV solutions – there are a number of test labs that evaluate and compare a huge variety of antivirus products and then publish the results.

Now, for some unknown reason (below I’ll try and guess why exactly) the renowned German test lab AV-TEST has quietly (there was no warning) modified its certification process. The changes mean that the certificates produced by the new rules are, to put it mildly, pretty useless for evaluating the merits of different AV products.

Yes, that’s right. I officially declare that AV-TEST certification of AV solutions for home users no longer allows product quality to be compared adequately. In other words, I strongly recommended not using their certificate listings as a guide when choosing a solution to protect your home PC. It would be natural to believe that two products that both have the same certification must be equal (or close to equal) in performance. With AV-TEST’s new certification standards, the onus is on the user to carefully investigate the actual results of each individual test…they may find that a product that blocked 99.9% of attacks has the same “certification” as a product that only blocked 55%.

avtest_cert_balance_blue

More: let’s take a closer look at what happened and why…

King of the castle: triple crown turns from yellow to green.

In astrology – squares are bad news. They represent conflict. (How or why I might know this I’ll not share with you here. Cough.) But in IT-industry analysis – squares are good. Real good! To get into one of four squares – ok, they like to call them quadrants – and especially the best of the four (leader/visionary) is no mean feat, so breaking and entering a square – especially leader/visionary – is all the more fantastic.

We are now in three such quadrants (actually, one quadrant, one “scape”, and one wave) – those of Gartner, IDC, and Forrester. All three have unanimously made us “leaders” in the class of corporate endpoint security! But this isn’t just the usual round of yet more medals being fastened to the old KL lapel. Oh no. We’ve received the honored “triple crown” from the three most respected international analytical agencies. Incidentally, this crown has only ever been worn by one other – our competitor with the soft spot for all things yellow. Well, now the triple crown is a nice shade of green.

IDC MarketScape (*)

IS01V MarketScape Graphic

More: see you in quadrants!… ->

One in twenty is the sad truth.

In brief.

  • Approximately 5% of home computers around the world are infected. That’s at least 50 million machines.
  • We discovered this from our free Kaspersky Security Scan after analyzing requests to an “antivirus cloud”.
  • We’re only talking about Windows PCs – we don’t know how many infected Macs and Linux machines there are out there.

Now for all the gory details.

So, just how many infected computers are there in the world right now (to within two or three parsecs)? It’s a pertinent question. And that’s just PCs; no Macs (quite a few of which are infected too). And let’s restrict it to just home users. In any case, it’s still interesting to know. What do you need to do to find out that sort of information? Well, a large selection of computers needs to be scanned for malware, and that’s a large selection in terms of geography as well as numbers. The antivirus tool not only needs to be good at catching viruses – it mustn’t conflict with other antivirus programs.

Well, we have just the thing – Kaspersky Security Scan (KSS).

Kaspersky Security Scan

More: KSS – a nifty little thing…

It’s Not All Just Antivirus, You Know. Introducing Kaspersky Security for Business.

It’s been little more than a year since the release of the previous version of our corporate product (Endpoint Security 8), but we’ve already rolled out a new (need I say it – much improved) one. Yesterday, as per tradition in New York, we had our global launch of Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business (KESB) - a nifty bit of software kit in which all sorts of new stuff comes together – from a flock of new functionality to a new name and a new product line.

This post gives you a peak at all these newbie bits and bobs featured in KESB. But first, as a bit of background to make all the new stuff a little easier to get your head round (I hope), let me give you a historic overview what’s gone on in the past and which has brought us to this year’s culmination: KESB.

More: In the beginning there was antivirus…

All Mouth, No Trouser.

“All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” Thus spake Napoleon, the head-hog in Orwell’s dystopian classic.

The genius of this phrase lies in its universality – a small addition turns the truth inside out. Alas, this witty paradox [sic.] is met not only in farmer-revolutionary sagas, but also in such (seemingly very distant) themes as – and you won’t believe this – antivirus tests! Thus, “All published AV-test results are equal, but some are more equal than others.” Indeed, after crafty marketing folk have applied their magic and “processed” the results of third-party comparative AV tests, the final product – test results as published by certain AV companies – can hardly be described as equal in value: they get distorted so much that nothing of true value can be learned from them.

Let’s take an imaginary antivirus company – one that hardly distinguishes itself from its competitors with outstanding technological prowess or quality of protection, but which has ambitions of global proportions and a super-duper sales plan to fulfill them. So, what’s it gonna first do to get nearer its plan for global domination? Improve its antivirus engine, expand its antivirus database, and/or turbo charge its quality and speed of detection? No, no, no. That takes faaaar too much time. And costs faaaar too much money. Well, that is – when you’re in the Premiership of antivirus (getting up to the First Division ain’t that hard). But the nearer the top you get in the Champions League in terms of protection, the more dough is needed to secure every extra hundredth of a real percent of detection, and the more brains it requires.

It’s much cheaper and quicker to take another route – not the technological one, but a marketing one. Thus, insufficient technological mastery and quality of antivirus detection often gets compensated by a cunning informational strategy.

But how?

Indirectly; that’s how…

Now, what’s the best way to evaluate the quality of the protection technologies of an antivirus product? Of course it’s through independent, objective opinion by third parties. Analysts, clients and partners give good input, but their impartiality naturally can’t be guaranteed. Comparative tests conducted by independent, specialized testing labs are where the real deal’s at. However, testers are peculiar beasts: they concentrate purely on their narrow trade – that’ll be testing – which is good, as testing done well – i.e., properly and accurately – is no easy task. But their results can often come across as… slightly dull, and could do with a bit of jazzing up. Which is where testing marketing done by those who order the testing kicks in: cunning manipulation of objective test results – to make the dirty-faced appear as angels, and/or the top-notchers appear as also-rans. It all becomes reminiscent of the ancient Eastern parable about the blind men and the elephant. Only in this case the marketing folk – with perfect eyesight – “perceive” the results deliberately biasedly. The blind men couldn’t help their misperceptions.

blind people and elephant

More: Nine tricks to put the wool over your eyes…

When Will Apple ‘Get’ Security Religion?

My recent mention of Apple in a speech at CeBIT Australia initiated the usual flurry of chatter and publications regarding the company’s approach to security. As Apple’s security seems to be a hot topic of late (since Flashfake), I think this is an opportune time to talk some sense about this issue. As you’ll know, today we see a widening rift between, on the one hand, Apple’s long-term alleged ‘Macs are malware-invincible’ campaign, and on the other – reality, i.e., that this campaign is… losing credibility, to put it mildly. So, will users have the nous to get to understand the real state of affairs, despite what Apple keeps telling them? What’s wrong with Apple’s security approach? Is there anything Apple can learn from Microsoft and other vendors in terms of security? …

More: When Will Apple ‘Get’ Security Religion?. . .

Business at the Edge of the World.

Australia. A huge territory, practically completely covered with desert, with thin strips of inhabited zones along the coast. There are some inhabited areas inland, but not all that many. Australia is rather attractive – a nice place to live. But there’s just one “but”. Australia is so bloody far! However, there are many reasons to get Down Under …

More: Business at the Edge of the World.. . .