Sochny Sochi, and lots of toastski.

Oh my grueling! The other week was reeeaaal high-pressure. Geographically, it went like this:

Moscow > Sochi > St. Petersburg > Moscow. Five days, three cities, two events, five hours in planes, and around 10 hours in cars.

So, like, why?…

First, there was our traditional global conference I had to get to. A quick bit of background to begin with:

A long time ago, when we were just a wee company, we started to gradually grow the number of partners we had all around the world. And when visiting one such technology partner, we saw how it put on yearly international partner conferences. ‘Great idea!’, we thought, and soon later – we put on one of our own: in 1999 we organized our first ever global partner conference, which took place in Moscow and which was attended by 15 guests from Europe, the U.S. and Mexico.

The following year, we spread our wings just a little further – with our partner conference taking place up in St. Petersburg. The year after that – Cyprus (attended for the first time by partners from Asia and Australia); after that – Barcelona; after that – Malta; next – Antaliya, Turkey; Portugal; Athens, Greece. It was when it came to Italy’s turn to host our partner conference that we realized that, for sure, we simply could not fit any longer into the regular conference halls in large hotels. And so it came to pass – we were all grown-up all of a sudden. Like with all children eventually – it was time for a bigger room ).

Thing is, we really didn’t want to bump the format up to expo-center level; therefore, from 2008, we decided to split the large global events into smaller, regional ones: North America, Latin America (sometimes together with North), Europe (including some sub-regional conferences), Russia (held in the Russian language), APAC (Asia & Oceania), and Japan (which had its own for a while). And everything was hunky-dory.

Later, having another think about all this, we figured we should have a special international get-together for our favorite, most successful partners. Thus – what goes around comes around – the international partner conference was back, albeit in a different format.

So, two years ago (in 2017), our first global ‘greatest hits’ partner conference took place – much like our first ‘demo tape’ did back in 1999 – closer to at home, in Moscow (I didn’t write anything then about it as June 2017 was fraught with other pressing business). The following year, again, we chose St. Petersburg as the host city, and that time I did manage to write a few words thereon.

Then, this year (the third year), we traveled a little futher from home (like to Cyprus in 2001)… to sochni (‘juicy’ in Russian) Sochi on the Black Sea in Southwestern Russia! Yes, where the Winter Olympics were held in 2014 – that Sochi ).

We’d thought long and hard about where this year’s global partner conference should be. Eventually, remembering that June is the perfect month to visit Sochi – not too hot, the Black Sea is refreshing but bathable (yep, we had a frolic therein), and up in the mountains above the city it’s pleasantly cool – Sochi got the most votes. And why not? Why not show our visitors this wonderful, unique city? So in everyone flew – all 140 of us, including 98 guests from abroad – from 35 countries, and all in order to talk business and its development.

Of course, Sochi isn’t the most convenient of locations to get to for everyone – especially those coming from America, Australia or Africa. Most folks needed more than one connecting flight, with some journeys taking 40 hours! But it was worth it: the infrastructure put in place for the Olympics is all still there, and can easily impress even the most sophisticated of international guest. And for a boost in immunity – especially cyber-immunity – at this time of year there’s no better place in Russia!

The event took place in the Hyatt Regency:

Woah. Hold on – deja-vu!…

Read on…

Why gold’s so expensive – ver. 2019.

Around a year ago, I told you on these here blog pages about an excursion I was given around a gold mine. Down we went deep into the bowels of the earth, where we were shown the whole process of beneficiation through which they extract out of every ton of earth a mere 7-8 grams of gold (which eventually find themselves in a .900 – ~20 karat gold bar).

Now, during that excursion, I recall how we were told by our guides how, though the mine we were in was really quite sufficiently modern, mechanized and automated, it still remained somewhat a ‘diet’ version of a gold mine. If we wanted to see a ‘full fat’ version, we needed to get ourselves… somewhere like this (which, a year later, is just what we did):

Read on…

Flickr photostream

Instagram photostream

Earth 2050: Visions of the future, today.

You may have already heard about the big change at the Kompany last week. However, big changes are nothing new to us! Ever since we began 22 years ago, it’s been non-stop change, change, change — and always for the better, naturally. Change has basically become our profession! Here’s why…

If we don’t understand the direction technology’s developing in, that hardly bodes well for the future. And I don’t mean because nobody will buy our products. Maybe there’ll be no one around to buy them in the first place!

Joke :)

I’m sure everything will work out just fine. Technology’s changing the world for the better. Sure, new possibilities bring new risks, but it’s always been that way.

But our job, accordingly, is to look into the future: to recognize risks, remove them, and prevent them from arising again. Otherwise, defenses will always be a step behind attacks, which is no defense at all. In the cybersecurity industry, you need to be able to anticipate what cybervermin have in mind and set traps in advance. Actually, this ability has always set us apart from our competitors. Remember NotPetya — one of the most infamous global epidemics of recent years? We caught it out proactively, without the need for any updates.

So crucial is this looking into the future, that we decided to launch a social media project based on it, called Earth 2050.

What is Earth 2050? It’s a totally open crowdsourcing (sorry for the trendy jargon) platform for looking into the future. By that I mean it’s a place where anyone at all — be they a minister or a street sweeper — can share their vision of the future, in writing or painting or graphics or whatever. Or, if you’re not into clairvoyance yourself, you can Like and comment on the predictions of folks who are. There’s something for everyone.

Looking into the future is important. Yes, we’ve got that. But why is all this openness so clearly important that it forms the basis of Earth 2050?

Well, the future’s difficult to predict. One person’s attempts have a good chance of turning out to be off the mark — and that’s understandable and natural. But predictions about the future by many people — even if they’re only partly accurate, and even if they’re a bit sketchy or contradictory — add up to a lot more accuracy. It’s a bit like the principle of machine learning. The more a machine learns, the better it’s able to do something — in this case, predict the future.

So far, nearly seven dozen visionaries have uploaded nearly 400 predictions to Earth 2050 — and some reeeaaal interestingly curious ones are in there, I have to say.

Read on…

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We got the bronze in powerlifting! 

We’ve more than 4000 K-folks working in the Kompany ). That’s 4000+ folks who either make, sell or support our products, which happen to be the best in their class in the world. And they’re always thinking up new products and improving perfecting existing ones.

Then there are the K-dawgs who protect us with patents and other legal delicacies, who do the books, who organize our conferences and optimize business trips, who… and on and on – and all over the world! I can’t list them all here, but one thing I will say is they’re a bunch of dedicated good eggs!

But out of all those 4000+, there is one in particular I want to mention and congratulate. It is our Masha – which is the diminutive of Maria, btw – who is now the holder of a totally unique prize. She is the world champion (!) bronze medal holder in the sport of powerlifting!!

Here she is, on the top floor of the tower in Tokyo where the championship took place:

Now – the details…

Read on…

Wonder – on a wander round Rwanda.

Hi folks!

And the news and tales from Rwanda go like this:

1. We’ve just opened a new office here! Our business is doing really rather well here, so we needed local specialists for the local market. Maybe we’ll need some for the neighboring countries too. For now though – our Rwandan office is on the fourth floor of this building:

Read on…

The pig is back!

Hi folks!

Once upon a time, long, long ago, we had a pet pig. Not a real one – and it didn’t even have a name – but its squeal became a famous one. Now, those of you who’ve been using Kaspersky Lab products for decades will no doubt know what I’m referring to. For the relative newbies among you, let me let you in on the joke…

In the cyber-antiquity of the 1990s, we added a feature to our AV product: when it detected a virus, it gave out a loud piggy-squeal! Some folks hated it; others loved it!

source

But after a while, for one reason or another, eventually the piggy squeal disappeared; incidentally – as did the ‘K’ icon in the tray, replaced by a more modern and understandable symbol.

Now, any good company has a circle of devoted fans (we even have an official fan club), and we’re no exception. And many of these fans down the years have written to me imploring us to ‘Bring back the pig!’ or asking ‘Where’s the ‘K’ in the Taskbar gone?!’

Well not long ago, we figured that, if that’s what folks want, why not give it to them? And since these days customizing products is really simple… that’s just what we did. So, herewith, announcing…

the return of the piggy! :)

Right. So how do you actually go about activating its squeals and bringing back the ‘K’? Here’s how:

In one of the most recent versions of our personal products was added an update (19.0.0.1088(e), which, btw, internally is codenamed ‘K icon and pig’!). And the update works for all our personal products: KFA, KAV, KIS, KTS, KSC and KSOS.

All this talk of piggies and Ks… but might they affect the quality/ speed/ efficiency/ effectiveness/ whatever of our products? Simple answer: no – in no way at all. Nice. Right – back to all this talk of piggies and Ks…

Here are the instructions:

  1. Make sure you have update 19.0.0.1088(e) or later, with the default settings applied;
  2. Make sure you have Windows 7 or older (for example XP) (sorry folks, this doesn’t work on Windows 10);
  3. Right-click on the product’s icon in the Taskbar, choose ‘About’, and here we apply some magic…
  4. Now type IDKFA (in caps, like here);
  5. Next – download a test file (a file that pretends to be a virus): eicar test file;
  6. The file won’t download though (the product blocks it in the browser), and instead of the download window opening – you guessed it: piggy squeal;
  7. There’s another way of doing it: pause the protection. Bingo!

You can change the icon in exactly the same way, only you need to type IDDQD instead of IDKFA. Btw: if you type it a second time, the icon will revert back to the standard one.

And if you’re wondering why on earth you need to type IDDQD or IDKFA, check this out ).

So there you have it. The pig is back. As is the K! Well, we had to make up for the ‘Lab’ being dropped, right? )

 

And now – gorillas!

Hi folks!

Back just before a busy business schedule in Rwanda the other week (more on that in a few days), we had a half-day spot of tourism scheduled. We’d heard great things about the Volcanoes National Park – those great things being gorillas! So we decided to get on over there for a look…

Gorillas! Large, muscular apes with black fur that inhabit the forests of central Sub-Saharan Africa. The males are huge, reaching body weights of up to 250kg, but they’re vegetarian, and also rather unaggressive beasts; that is – unless you provoke them, as our guides told us: 250kg of muscle and sharp fangs are not something you want to get angry. (Interestingly, on the Russian Wikipedia page for gorillas it states that ~ “if an enemy decides to bottle it and turn and run, the gorilla will catch him/her up and take a bite out of the back or bottom thereof. In some African tribes the most shameful of scars one can have are those from a gorilla: it means that the person ran from one; therefore he/she is a coward.”!

Our expert guides told us how wild-cat predators like leopards and also other powerful and fearsome thuggish beasts like buffalo tend to steer well clear of gorillas. Gorillas are just too strapping and brawny to mess with.

(Regarding their strength, I quote my travel companion, A.S., btw: “Woah! I just saw a young female who was slowly, calmly building up a nest (I think). She grabbed the branch of a tree some five centimeters thick and simply snapped it off without any effort at all! And that was a wee lassie”:)

Did you know that gorillas (and also chimpanzees and orangutans) are the closest species to Homo sapiens? We made a genetic split from them some seven million years ago. Apparently our DNA is just slightly different to theirs – by just two percent! That’s why they look so much like us the fitness trainers in our gym ).

Read on…

Introducing – the new us.

I’ve heard it said that “Life needs shaking up more often than not, so it doesn’t turn sour.”

Well, no chance we could ever let things go sour here at KL — not in the industry we’re in, which is constantly and rapidly changing. Still, sometimes it is useful to stop, take a look at yourself as if through someone else’s eyes, think about what’s around the corner, and make a few changes to the look and feel of the company accordingly. And so it is with this lyrical introduction that I want to formally announce our rebranding and explain why we’ve done it.

We were born in the 90s. Back when we founded the company in 1997, we had just one simple goal: to make the best antivirus in the world. There was no talk of positioning, image, or brand philosophy. But that was then; this is now. It’s been 22 years, and everything’s changed.

We now employ more than 4,000 people and protect hundreds of millions of individuals and businesses around the world. The very concept of antivirus, our original cornerstone, has become obsolete. The world has become so dependent on cyber-everything that no sphere of modern life has been left untouched by it. And we’re ready to protect all of it, from home users on the internet to large corporations, governments, industry, and infrastructure. One thing has remained the same, however, since the beginning: we produce the very best security solutions on the market.

With so much having changed, it was high time we thought about how we looked to folks on the outside — to see if that, too, might need some shaking up. After all, our logo was designed back in 1997, when the company was just taking its first steps. In that logo we used the Greek alphabet with lots of fine detail, but 22 years on, much of that has lost its relevance.

So, after lots of work behind the scenes, today we’re formally updating our logo! The new logo employs geometric, mathematically precise letter forms representing the values that define us: for example, the highest standards of engineering. Another noticeable innovation is that we’ve removed the word Lab. That change has been on the cards for years; we’re often referred to simply as My Surname around the world anyway — and always have been, for the sake of convenience, simplicity, brevity, or plain lack of need for the Lab. Well now we’re just Kaspersky officially too: shorter, simpler, clearer, more utilitarian, easier, more memorable (I could go on at length here).

But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll see we’re not just changing our logo. The whole company’s changing.

In recent years, our approach to business, to our products, and to ourselves — not to mention, our vision of the future — has changed. All these years we’ve been saving the world, fighting cyber-sin in its many incarnations, but, as I mentioned above, we’ve been changing too as we grew (I should have been a poet). Now, we feel know it’s within our power not only to save the world, but also to build a more protected, safer world from the ground up. I firmly believe that the concept of cybersecurity will soon become obsolete, and cyber-immunity will take its place.

Information systems should be designed and built secure; they should not require add-ons in the form of (never quite fully secure) security solutions. That is the future we’re working on: a real, tangible future in which life will be simpler, more convenient, and more interesting — not some flowery, imagined future straight out of science fiction. And this world is taking shape little by little, day by day. I’m sure that in this safer world we’re helping create, technologies will no longer be a source of constant threat, but instead provide tons of new possibilities, opportunities, and discoveries.

So there you have it, the new … K!?! (What? No more KL, as I like to abbreviate us to? Oh well, progress always requires some sacrifice!)

Rwespect to Rwanda!

Hi folks!

Well, I’ve sorted my pics from my recent Africa trip, so it’s time for a brief intro-report on my impressions of the Republic of Rwanda!

For an African country it’s rather a tiny one, toward the mid-to-southeast of the continent. With a population of around 12 million, area-wise it’s a little smaller than Belgium, which by some strange coincidence Rwanda happens to have once been a colony of.

Now, to someone who knows little about Rwanda, that’s probably where the similarities with Belgium would end. But it’s not the case! In fact Rwanda fairly amazed me by how much it differs from other African countries I’ve been to. Sure, there’s the inevitable poverty, but the differences are many. I’ll start with climate…

Rwanda is around 150–300km south of the equator, so yes, there’s plenty of sunshine every day. However, it’s about 1500m above sea level, so the climate is most comfortable: Not too hot, and not too humid either like places near the equator but down by sea level.

Another largely atypical feature: how the countryside looks – green, rolling hills, beautiful (btw: in the northwest of the country there are volcanoes and jungles with gorillas, and in the southeast – savanna with all sorts of interesting African wildlife).

Here’s the view of the Rwandan capital, Kigali:

Read on…

Istanbul’s new airport: humungous, ambitious – and delicious!

A new airport has opened in Istanbul! And about time too, for the former main airport had long since been overstretched but couldn’t be expanded because it’s in the city itself (it’s now used just for cargo, business and other unscheduled flights), while the national carrier has been impressively expanding its geographical spread of destinations around the globe. Woah: a quick glance at Wikipedia tells me that that geographical expansion is so impressive that it’s given Turkish Airlines the highest number of countries served by an airline – a whopping 121! The second highest is Air France, but way behind TK  with just 91. Turkish is also sixth in the rankings of most destinations (304 cities) served, with only international cargo and US airlines ahead of it (i.e., hardly the fairest of comparisons). It’s also tenth in the world on fleet size – again behind US/Chinese/postal behemoths (and Ryanair:). But I digress…

So it was logically decided some years ago that Istanbul needed a new, bigger airport hub – a grandiose one; therefore one was built on a greenfield site outside the city. It’s size is 6 x 4.5km; it has four (!) runways each four kilometers long; and a gigantic terminal some 800×400 meters (that’s the main building, not including all walkways to the gates). In a word three words: oh my ginormous!

Here’s the view from up top:

Read on…