Chanting ‘Issa-ee’ on the Kanda Matsuri.

In Tokyo on the weekend nearest the middle of May (this year – the 14th –15th) the Kanda Matsuri – aka the Kanda Festival – takes place every year. This is when all the residents of a district of Tokyo (I think just Kanda) gather in the morning all dressed up in traditional coats in the color of their streets, and take these here… let’s call them mobile holy temples (correct me please if my description is way off the mark), and carry them in a procession to Kanda Shrine:

Read on: A quick break, then up and off again…

Another Long Week: Snows & Scorchers, Politics & Hacks, Moscow – Abu Dhabi – Tokyo.

Good day boys and girls!

I’ve been a bit quiet of late – but I’ve a good excuse – I had a real tough week: the schedule was tight and intercontinental, plus alarmingly… combative…

It all started in Moscow. Now, normally come the month of May, the last vestiges of the long cold winter – snow and ice – have long disappeared, at least by a month. Not this year. It snowed the other week! The weather was so bad – cold, windy, wet – that even the May 9 Victory Day parade was partially called off (the airborne part). Ye gods! And I was soooo looking forward to it.

Bad weather causing things to be called off – hardly anything new there, right? Well, actually…

You see, in Russia, the authorities have a habit of… making sure the weather’s good on special occasions. In Russian they call it ‘shooing away the clouds’. I don’t know the details, but they somehow shoo away clouds by… doing something to the atmosphere to make sure clouds don’t come close. Playing God? Maybe. Whatever, it normally works. My question: WHAT WENT WRONG THIS TIME?! I mean, the budget for seeing off clouds for the weekend must be huge. Hmmm, I wonder…

Early doors it looked like the budget was well-spent: the sky was clear and the sun was shining:

Read on: a sudden global malware outbreak…

Russian Grand Prix in Sunny Sochi.

Sorry folks for the tardiness of this post; been up to my neck with work of late. Better late than never though…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – it’s great watching F1 in the flesh at the racetrack. But it’s best of all watching it from the garage, if you’re lucky enough to have access thereto. It’s in the garage where the team sits, where the pressure is through the roof, where the adrenaline is pumping the most, and where the emotions run amok. And the garage experience is even more thrilling if your team is in pole position – like we were the other weekend (the first time since 2008!). But enough talk – no time for that. They’re on the starting grid!…

It doesn’t matter that we can’t see the cars themselves – we sure can hear them (the starting line’s a mere 30-40 meters away!), and seeing them on the big TV screens is more than enough.

And they’re off!…

Oh my grid. Valtteri Bottas jumped two positions ahead right from the off, and that was actually how things ended today. I’m afraid not a great deal else interesting happened today. No intrigue, nothing! Sometimes it goes like that, F1. In fact, it all resembled more a column of soldiers doing a march. Who would have thought F1 could be dull? :).

A storm cloud looked like it could have put a literal dampener on things, but it decided to stay put up in the mountains and not descend to the sea.

Read on: Familiar faces on the roof …

Thames Path – No Faff.

The other week, in London on various work matters, A.S. and I managed to find the time to continue our stroll along the Thames Path. I say continue as I’d covered a good stretch of it before – last year I think, only with A.B., not A.S. Anyway, the Thames Path starts (or ends) at the Thames Barrier (near London City Airport) and finishes (or starts) somewhere up by the river head. Yes – it’s long. A whole ~300km long! And since, though not fully gym-shy we’re not quite Ultraman triathalonists, we take sections of this premium path separately when in town, this time from the very end/start – the barrier – to the Golden Jubilee Bridge, and from there we wander off-pistepath to other London places of interest, of which there are plenty, as you’ll either know or guess.

Read on: A brief summary of the previous segments …

They Asked Me… Everything!

Hi folks!

Yesterday, I hosted an ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) on Reddit. I wanted to take a moment to thank the attendees for all of their questions – especially the challenging ones. So here goes: thank you everyone for the great Q&A session! It sure was wide-ranging – with questions on the security of smartphones to Formula 1 and… my favorite food and drink, plus of course the obligatory queries about how to pronounce my surname and… Star Wars. In fact, you guys asked so many questions that I couldn’t answer them all in the time. But I encourage you to read the full thread here – maybe some of my replies there answer your questions too; if not – feel free to drop some more as I may have a future blogpost responding to them or answer them directly on Reddit.

Simultaneously with the AMA there was a hearing taking place in Washington, D.C., where concerns were being raised about Kaspersky Lab. This is nothing new for us: false allegations are something we’ve gotten used to. Still, let us address some of the questions that were raised there and which also happened to find their way to the Reddit community:

Is your company subject to SORM given you operate servers in Russia?

No, SORM is for ISPs and telecom companies, and we are not them. EDIT: The same goes to PRISM or similar systems. (AMA thread)

 

The US Senate Intel committee is currently interviewing the heads of the intelligence community. They were just asked whether they would be comfortable running Kaspersky software on their computers. The answer was unanimous: No.
Thoughts?

I respectfully disagree with their opinion, and I’m very sorry these gentlemen can’t use the best software on the market because of political reasons. (AMA thread)

 

What is your reaction to the Intelligence Committee’s (CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, DNI Director Dan Coats, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Director Robert Cardillo, and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. General Vincent Steward) universal statement of a lack of confidence in Kaspersky Labs software on their systems?

Once again, I think that due to political reasons, these gentlemen don’t have an option, and are deprived from the opportunity to use the best endpoint security on the market without any real reason or evidence of wrongdoing from our side. I would be very happy to testify in front of the Senate, to participate in the hearings and to answer any questions they would decide to ask me. (AMA thread)

 

Is there a backdoor built into your software?

Our software is designed to protect our customers, not to breach into their devices. There is no hidden functionality in our products, including backdoors. (AMA thread)

 

On our relationship with Michael Flynn

To clarify things: We paid a speaker fee for DC public conference. Nothing scandalous here, he was a good speaker. (AMA thread)

 

On the inevitable KGB questions and misinformation: Is the statement “Once KGB Agent, Always a KGB Agent” true?

Really can’t say, I haven’t been by a KGB agent / employee for a second. (AMA thread)

 

On allegations that we help governments commit cybercrime

Kaspersky Lab has no ties to any government, and the company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts. (full statement)

In closing, we weren’t asked to participate in any hearings or investigations. As mentioned earlier, we are always happy to assist in investigations where our expertise could benefit the greater good or to meet with a congressional panel with questions into the work of my company.

I am doing a Reddit AMA.

During the course of a business trip, I tend to meet a lot of people. These can be anyone to people in the street to conference attendees to reporters or partners of the company. In meeting this many people, I also get asked a lot of interesting questions.

Most times I am able to give quick answers or offer some insight into the state of cybersecurity, what airports to avoid or best places in the world to spend a holiday. But there are also times where I have to be quick and head to the next meeting or connecting flight.

When you add up the years that I have spent travelling and growing the business over the last 20 years, these missed connections start to add up. So many people left with burning questions.

If you are one of these people that have missed your chance in the past, I have got some good news for you. On Thursday May 11th at 9:00 am EDT, you can literally ask me anything.

Seriously, this is not a joke boys and girls. I will be hopping on Reddit for a 2-hour Ask Me Anything where you can ask anything that you want and I will answer as many as I can. We will also be sharing the link to the AMA a bit before on our social media channels in case you can’t make the chat.

So what will you ask me?

Frankfurt Leaves an Impression.

Since I’m writing this post in the wee small hours of a London night, I can wish the bulk of my usual readers:

A good morning and good day!

As well as good evening, good night, sweet dreams! And then once again it’s onwards and upwards to new achievements in your personal and community activities. In other words, as yours truly is wont to say: “get back to work guys!”

Frankfurt is next up on my agenda. It’s a familiar situation – I’ve actually been here many times, but not in the city itself, just at the airport for connecting flights. I’ve never seen this large and very important city as a tourist! This time, too, Frankfurt has managed to fly past me, leaving a sort of “impressionistic” picture in the memory.

All the same, is there anything from Germany’s landscapes that I can offer you to exercise your mind? Are you ready to rack your brains?

Read on: A small introduction to cities of the world…

An Elevator in the Internet vs. the Internet in an Elevator.

I have a very high opinion of Schindler, the world’s leading manufacturer of elevators and escalators. (Next time you use these modes of transport, take note of the manufacturer’s logo.) In my view, this company deserves lots of respect and its business practices are worthy of study and emulation. However, when I see the company’s booth at an exhibition, replete with slogans like this, it sends a shiver down my spine, I start feeling uncomfortable about the world around me, and my left eye starts to twitch. Why?

There were three slogans that I had a particular problem with:

– How can I turn my elevator into a digital native?
– What is your elevator doing while you sleep?
– Can you meet your elevator online?

If you take a closer look, you can see them in this photo:

It may not bother everyone, but it makes me a little apprehensive. Of course, you understand… An elevator in the Internet is not as dangerous as the Internet in an elevator! OK, that’s tonight’s nightmares taken care of. No, I’m not trying to scare you. And I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to dream about the elevator from this cartoon!

The venue is Hannover Messe, the yearly mega-exhibition of industrial solutions. It’s all about automation, manufacturing, the energy industry, all sorts of robots, the rarest spare parts and other types of modern industrial magic.

Read on: Pretty interesting!…

At Last – Not All So Quiet on the Antitrust Front.

Last fall, in our domestic market we turned to the Federal Antimonopoly Service with a complaint against Microsoft regarding its anti-trust legislation violations.

Despite the long silence on the airwaves, the matter was in fact slowly but surely being addressed. And don’t pay any attention to inaccurate reports about not filing similar claims with the EU Commission: that was off the back of an interview I gave in Germany in which it looks like a fact or two went astray – perhaps lost in translation. We are definitely not planning on ‘temporarily backing off’ filing our competition complaint with the EU Commission.

And anyway, instead of reading reports it’s always better hearing it from the horse’s mouth, as they say… So here I am with real news and confirmed details and plans that I can share at the moment compromising neither ethical nor legal norms.

Ok. Let’s begin…

Microsoft took a two-pronged approach: (i) formal denials; (ii) specific practical steps to address the antitrust demands

First off, as was expected, Microsoft disagrees with our claims. ‘We did not create conditions…’, ‘we have not infringed…’, and even: ‘we do not dominate…’ But facts are stubborn things, and despite the formal denials, Microsoft has, in fact, taken a few crucial steps toward rectifying the situation. And it looks like our actions might have helped encourage Microsoft to do so. Of course, there’s still more that needs to be done, but this is at least a good start toward ensuring that consumers have the chance to choose the best cybersecurity solution for them specifically.

It appears Microsoft took a two-pronged approach: (i) formal denials (which is logical); and (ii) specific (although small) practical steps to meet both users and independent software developers half-way.

I’ll leave out the formal denials here, but in this post I want to tell you a bit about those ‘practical steps’ that were recently taken by Microsoft. Let’s have a look at three notable examples thereof:

Example No. 1: The Alarming Windows Defender PC Status Page.

One of the claims we made against Microsoft regarded the misleading Windows Defender PC status page, pictured below:

The good news is that Microsoft has changed the previously displayed status page in a recent update, addressing several of the confusing and misleading elements we described.

So, what was the original status page for and what were our objections?

Read on: the right direction…

Cyber-Forecast: 2017.

Such is the way Homo Sapiens are: we’re constantly – even recklessly – looking to the future to try and work out what it might hold for us. Many say we should all live in the present – after all, the future never comes – but, well, that doesn’t work for everyone, and most of us do need to make at least some plans for our futures.

But there are different approaches to looking ahead.

There’s belief in fate, pure guessing, flipping a coin, and so on. There’s also not thinking about the future at all. But there’s a far superior, science-based approach too. This is doing the eastern spirituality thing a bit – not quite being in the present but carefully analyzing the present instead – to be able to predict the future as accurately as possible. And this is exactly what is done to predict the cyber-future; in particular – the security of the cyber-future. And that’s what we do – little by little every day, but also broadly and deeply and especially – and merrily – every year, when we bring together the world’s cybersecurity elite for a week-long pow-wow in a tropical seaside resort, which pow-wow we call the Security Analyst Summit (SAS):

Oops – wrong vid. Here u go…:

Dough! Nope. This one:

I don’t know quite how it’s done but every single year SAS just gets better. I mean, it’s always been GReAT, but the GReATness just keeps going up and up: more experts, better quality content, better and more original ideas, slicker, cooler, and more and more world scoops and exclusive material.

And it’s exclusive material that I’ll be writing about in this here post. Specifically, my Top-5 favorite presentations from SAS-2017. I’m not saying the others were no good or just so-so, it’s just I wasn’t physically able to see them all as they were running simultaneously in different halls. Also – everyone has their own taste; well here’s a guide to mine!…

Off we go!…

Read on: A Maze for a Penguin Under the Moonlight…