Фэбruary 45, 2018.

I love Russian winters. Everything coated in spotless (at least on my balcony at the office) driven snow, and when the sun comes out, the beauty of the serene scene is multiplied several fold:

But wait. Typo, surely, no? Russian winter? But we’re 16 days into spring already. At least, that’s what I thought. What’s going on here?!!

Read on…

10 years of sensational SAS.

Many different cyber-professional events take place around the world every year. Out of all of them I have one special favorite – our own special one for cybersecurity analysts: SAS (Security Analyst Summit). And every year they just get better and better and bigger and bigger. This time we had 320 guests from 30+ countries – mostly from the Americas and Europe, but also seven experts from Australia, and participants from Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. Representatives of large companies were in strong attendance as usual (from Microsoft, Google, Apple, Cisco, Sony, Honeywell, Cloudflare, Pfizer, SWIFT, Chevron, Citibank and others), but there were also folks from the cyber-police of different countries, plus government agencies and departments from the UK, Netherlands, Canada, France, China, South Korea, Switzerland, Austria, Romania and Kazakhstan. There were non-commercial and educational organizations (like, among others, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the University of Texas, respectively). And a big thanks to our conference partners and sponsors, namely: Qintel, Avast, Telstra, Microsoft, ThreatBook, Talos, Security Week and Threatpost. In short, folks from all over and from diverse fields, demonstrating the degree of trust in and respect for our company.

Like me, SAS likes to travel the world, avoiding the large Congress centers of big boring cities, preferring instead stunning exotic locations with a warm climate and in the immediate vicinity of warm ocean.

SAS has been held in Croatia, Cyprus and Malaga on the Mediterranean; in Mexico’s Cancun in 2012 and 2015; on the Spanish island of Tenerife; and the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and St. Maarten in the Caribbean. And here we are once again back in Cancun for this, our 10th SAS! Hooray!

It all began in the year 2009. 60 guests – 55 of which were KL staff! – each sharing their notes on research and experience in cybersecurity. Those humble beginnings quickly grew into large-scale industry events with more than 300 high-level delegates (only ~30% of which were from KL). This year’s event was extra special because of the jubilee, and the participants didn’t seem disappointed…

Read on…

Mexico Secreto.

Hi folks!

Cenotes. Gotta love ’em.

What’s a cenote, you ask? A cenote is “a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Especially associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings.”Wikipedia.

Cenotes of the Yucatán Peninsula – gotta love ’em especially. For these aren’t just pretty lakes somewhere deep down below in huge pits (like Ik Kil); these are rivers and pools that are completely underground – invisible from the surface. Yucatán’s climate is well and truly tropical, meaning there’s plenty of rain too; all the same, on the surface there are practically no rivers at all to be seen. Why? Before the limestone bedrock collapses the rivers run underneath it. When a collapse does eventually take place, only then do the rivers show their faces rapids to the world once again after millennia underground.

Btw, you aren’t allowed to take camera/video equipment into the cenotes; accordingly, none of the pics here are mine.

Here are a few pics I found on the net: oh my grotto!…

Read on…

From Russia (to Belgium) with… Steel.

I’m a curious chap. Example: I’ve long wondered what the differences are between European and Russian… steel works! Ok, not quite everyone else in the world is wondering about such a thing, but, then, you don’t follow this blog for more on what everyone else is thinking, right? ).

So wonder I did. Past tense. Today – no more wondering, for now I know…

Read on…

The mystery of the Aldabra giant tortoise.

I first set eyes on these incredible creatures last year in 2017. Just a year later and I was back for more, and since then I haven’t been able to stop wondering: where did they come from and how did they manage to survive? Wikipedia gave me part of the answers, which in this instance I trust completely: the Aldabra giant tortoise is endemic to the island of the Aldabra atoll in Seychelles.

// Endemic, btw, refers to species – not individuals. So, let’s say you live and don’t ever venture far from a single address/location, you aren’t endemic to that place; you’re just lazy – or a hikikomori, if in Japan! :)

But how? This question keeps me up at night…

Read on…

It’s a crypto-minefield out there.

Buzzwords of the 21st century. They come; some go – some stay. Example of the latter: synergy. Remember that one? It used to be bandied about in practically every business presentation given some 15 years ago (apart from mine; no thank you!). And do you recall the Y2K bug? Oh my goodness – that was 18 years ago already :). That too came and went (after having turned out to be much ado about nothing). Out of those that come and stay, there’s… hmmm… leverage, wellness, proactive, paradigm… But I digress.

Back to what I want to talk about today…: specifically tech buzzwords. Which ones spring to mind? Artificial intelligence? Big data? The internet of things? Quantum computing? Or maybe the uber-buzzy cryptocurrencies and bitcoins? These are among the most popular according to Google, too, btw.

Not all buzzwords are silly/nonsense/marketing hype/investor-and-consumer deceiving… sophistry (is that a buzzword? Sure sounds it, but…:). Blockchain is one example. For example, our business incubator is nurturing several blockchain ideas that will change the world for the better in their niches.

Not just to buy Bitcoins but also to sell them

But that’s not what this post is about. Today I want to share my thoughts on the influence of cryptocurrencies on global cybersecurity and how we help users protect themselves from new threats. I’ll also fantasize a little about the future of free internet services and options for monetization of software.

Read on…

Snow and sun – oh what fun!

I really cannot remember a winter in Moscow like this one. A Moscow winter as it should be – frosty, icy, snowy, chilly, splendid, and sometimes even sunny. More often than not it’s a soggy, slushy, sullied affair, but I’m normally on the other side of the planet so it doesn’t really affect me so I’ve nothing to complain about.

Not that I never see snow of a winter. I’ve seen not small quantities of it twice in Antarctica (in 2009/2010 and 2017), in Greenland, and in Sweden-Denmark in February 2011 (oh such a long time ago that was). I’ve been to the typically, famously, thoroughly chilly Iceland and Yakutia, but only in summer, so those don’t count. Ah yes, I’ve skied in the Alps a few times, but I won’t count those either. So, that makes just four times in the last 10 (or even 15) years when I saw serious snow. Therefore, a rare total white-out in Moscow is only to be welcomed! Here are the views out of my office window and from the balcony next to it:

Read on…

Blade Runner or Lame Runner?

Of all the sci-fi movies ever made, just a few stand out as true masterpieces. One of them, IMHO, is Blade Runner, released in 1982 (depicting the year 2019 – next year!).

And you may already know about there being a sequel, which was released last year – Blade Runner 2049. Well, I finally got round to watching it the other day on a plane.

So what can I say? It’s a goodie, for sure. But it ain’t no masterpiece. I’d put it on a par with, say… Passengers. I’ll give it 6.5 out of 10. The original was a straight 10/10 – up there with the other best-ever sci-fi movies, like Solaris, Stalker, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. But the sequel (as is often the case), was a bit of a let-down.

Herewith, my brief pros and cons of Blade Runner 2:

First, the pros:

+1: As already mentioned, overall it’s still a good film: original, well written, well directed.

+2: The Russian word Целина (Tselina) is written correctly on the greenhouses at Sapper Morten’s farm (This is a reference to Khrushchev’s ‘Virgin Lands’ campaign (Osvoyeniye Tseliny) in the Soviet Union where citizens were moved to undesirable and sparsely populated land to start farms and grow food).

Next, the cons:

-1: For me, the biggest and most unforgivable con is how Wallace and his replicant, Luv, are portrayed; i.e., as (very bad) baddies. In the first film, there are no baddies at all; replicants kill, but that’s what they’re designed to do by their makers – humans – and they kill only for understandable reasons: to survive or out of desperation, after all they get themselves into some awful situations. In the new film these two are maniacal sadist types completely lacking in moral compass, but, like, with zero explanation as to why. Grrr.

-2: Luv on her own. She’s Wallace’s right-hand replicant. His ‘first angel’, she can enter his room without knocking; however, she’s also engaged in direct sales, at one point explaining to a client how a product can be customized (the first scene at the Wallace Corporation). Nonsense. What, did they want to save on the number of actors needed for the film? I really don’t remember any such bizarre half-baked scripting in the first film.

-3: Assorted other puzzling bits. In particular:

– There’s dialogue at one point in a home for the elderly between Deckard and Gaff. And suddenly they switch to Hungarian. WHY? So everyone would look it up on the internet to see what it means (btw: nyugdíjas means pensioner in Hungarian). Yes, it’s cityspeak, but why the sudden switch? What’s it mean – if anything? Again, unfathomable. Could it mean Deckard is also a replicant and he was ‘retired’? No, he’s in the ruins of Las Vegas with a dog and a cistern of whisky. So, where’s the Hungarian connection? And how come no one else is in Vegas, attracted by this endless stock of vintage Scotch?

– There’s a character called Dr. Ana Stelline. Turns out Anastellin is a drug that suppresses tumor growth. Again, WHY? What’s the deep significance of this? (Maybe you know? > the comments).

-3.1: The scene featuring the child trafficker’s ledger. Why does the camera give us this sequence: back, hand, palm, ashtray – which is turned round to reveal a pic of a horse. Of course he then remembers everything, but that would have been obvious without the mysterious camerawork. Once again: WHY?

Btw, there are some good subtleties too. For example, in the ‘children’s home’ they shave the boys’ heads while leaving the girls’ hair to grow long. So – K’s recollections are of a girl, specifically of the girl who planted the recollections. Good, subtle, cool.

-3.2: Another unexplainable: a wooden toy horse costs a ton of money. However, in the very first scene of the film we see dead trees on farmland. Why didn’t the farmers saw up the trees into pieces and become millionaires?

-4: How does a replicant get into the chief of police’s office? Through the wall like Terminator? And how does she get into the police station’s evidence vault, which would have been guarded well, with dogs, video surveillance, and so on. Teleportation? So why doesn’t anyone else do teleportation? And why don’t they show the teleportation? How K got in there is shown. How the lunatic replicant got there – a mystery.

-5: How Roy Batty got into the bedroom of Tyrell is clear. How Luv moves through well-guarded walls – another puzzler.

-6: At the very end, how does K find out that Deckard is being driven in one of three cars. Telepathy? He destroys the other two (which didn’t fire back). The third, with Deckard, is only partly wrecked.

-7: Why doesn’t the super-astute K check his own DNA in the archive where he checked Rachel’s DNA? How could he not think of that one?! How to read others’ memories – he’s got that licked. A modicum of common sense – a complete lack of, all of a sudden.

Despite the cons far outweighing the cons, this is a film to be watched. But just once ).

B&B: Berlin & Bosch.

I’ve just got myself a +1 to my collection of German industrial exhibitions/conferences, which now runs to a grand total of three. It was Bosch Connected World – both a conference and exhibition that ‘celebrate the Internet of Things’. Hardware & software, robotics, stationary + mobile, automotive, cloud-based, AI… basically all the buzz words – and all here. But everything here is somehow Bosch-connected, either belonging thereto of partnering with it; therefore, it was rather smaller than the other two in my collection: Embedded World and Hannover Messe. The former is about all things cyber-digital-industrial-automotive, the latter – all things industrial in general, not just security.

If you’re already in the computer automation/robotics/smart-whatever field, or are planning on entering it soon, you need to get yourself here. We were here as we’ve decided to attend more vendor-themed events: they’re smaller scale, but more focused. So here we are: welcome to Bosch Connected World!…

Read on: Nice place, proper technology, business opportunities…

The world’s first ever bytes.

Hi folks!

Today’s post is from Munich; specifically – from one of its fine museums, and then from a conference I was speaking at…

All righty. The museum: the Deutsches Museum, the world’s largest science and technology museum!

In a word, this place: ‘WHOAH!’

How can I best describe it? Ok, how about this:

Imagine you’re in a market – a massive one. There are rows of stalls selling fruit and vegetables, eggs, nuts, knick-knacks… whatever. Well, here – it’s just like that, only the stalls feature cars, planes, computers and all sorts of other tech, from the ancient to the modern-day – lots of it too: 28,000 exhibits! Oh my grandiose!

Read on…