Monthly Archives: July 2012

What Wired Is Not Telling You – a Response to Noah Shachtman’s Article in Wired Magazine

Eugene Kaspresky is not KGB but Indiana Jones of the Industry

This is a very unusual post. It’s not about cyber-crime, malware, our latest business achievements or my latest long journey around the globe. It’s about truth and facts, and the importance of not hiding certain facts while revealing others.

For sure I was surprised to read such an article from a journalist who, up until Monday, always seemed to maintain the highest of professional and ethical standards. And it goes without saying that, on behalf of my company and our 2400+ employees around the world, I have to object to Mr. Shachtman’s litany of inferences, opinions, omissions and errors.

We first got to know Mr. Shachtman early last fall, and then invited him to our headquarters in Moscow. After several meetings with me and our team members, during which we discussed many different current issues related to the security field, it appears Noah Shachtman thought that he was ready to tell the world the “truth” about Kaspersky Lab and me personally, and decided to produce an article for Wired Magazine. And he got off to a great start (the way he described me after practically 72 hours on planes (Cancun-Munich-Cancun) just to be there for the opening of the event was all very true – and to me very amusing). But unfortunately Mr. Shachtman forgot to include essential components such as key facts, independent international experts’ opinions, and independent marketing research agencies’ data. Not only did he forget to check his facts, in some cases he wrote almost the opposite of what I actually said in my numerous interviews with him over the past seven months.

I hope Noah tried to do his best and had no hidden agenda. But he unfortunately failed to present to you the whole truth. So I’ve decided to help him out.

Read on: What Wired Is Not Telling You – a Response to Noah Shachtman’s Article in Wired Magazine

Kamchatka-2012, Day 0.

Howdy all, from the village of Paratunka! Here we’re at a small hotel that has warm water springs in its grounds that flow into natural swimming pools. All ecological, none of that horrid chlorine, and great fun! Paratunka is near the end tip of Kamchatka, in the far-far-far-east of Russia. The hotel was nothing special, but that didn’t matter. The only things that did matter were the nice warm temperature and freshness of the water in the hotel’s pools.

Kamchatka Hotel

Read on: Kamchatka-2012, Day 0.

KL: 15 Years Old – How Time’s Flown!

Kaspersky Lab is 15! Believe me – that’s a long time. That many years in the IT industry is a whole epoch, no – several epochs.

In 1997 when the company was founded our main enemy was cyber-hooliganism. At the start of the 2000s this was overtaken by organized cybercrime, and our task became considerably more difficult: on the other side of the barricades there wasn’t a bunch of uncoordinated hackers any more; large cross-border cyber-criminal structures had firmly established themselves – illegally earning millions of dollars in profits. Today, cyber-crime been joined by a new and much more fearsome phenomenon – cyber-warfare. Recent cyber-war attacks such as Stuxnet, Duqu and Flame show how it’s not just “business” any more, but politics, with those behind cyber-warfare not in it for the money. They’ve got different objectives. Cyber-warfare activities are also much greater in scale, or rather – reach, so the destructive force of attacks has gone up too. We’ve seen how poorly protected IT infrastructure can be exploited to paralyze whole cities, industries, even countries. Thus we’ve entered an ominous new era – that of cyber-warfare. What we need to do in response is join forces in a worldwide fight for security.

For our company this new era sure is a challenge. The goalposts have moved, but we’re moving with them. We’ve had nothing but moving goalposts now for 15 years! We’ve always had to deal with new threats, so we’ve gotten well used to always being on guard and not letting it down for just a second. So figuratively, but also as a matter of fact, our guys work 24 hours, seven days a week, and 365 days a year in keeping the guard up and maintaining protection from threats. Over our 15 year history we’ve built up a gigantic database, containing more than 94 million samples of malware and around 300 million trusted – whitelisted – files.

Read on: KL: 15 Years Old – How Time’s Flown!

Phuket Buckets: In Thailand, It Never Rains – It Pours.

Hi all, from Phuket, Thailand, where we’re having our fourth yearly regional Partner Conference.

Phuket Hotel

Phuket Hotel Pool

It’s the wet season (rainy season / monsoon season) here. We were warned about it so it wasn’t like it was a surprise. But I’d never actually experienced it before somehow, and thought that it was just a time when it rains heavily on and off: I didn’t realize quite what I was in for…

More: Phuket Bucket …

Killing Time in Airports – Frequent-Flyer Style.

In order to ease the mind-numbing tedium of hanging around Munich airport, T.T. and I started playing “Any-Letter Airport Code”. It’s a reasonably pointless game – but a great time killer – in which you take turns to come up with a three-letter airport code containing a letter from anywhere within the previous code (i.e., not just the last letter, like in similar party games).

It turned out to be quite fun. Here’s what we got:

MUC-DME-MAD-DBX-LAX-LHR-FRA-PUN-DUB-BRU-BCE-PEK-PKC- (and this is where it got trickier! But we got there!) -KUL-CUN-NAS-SVO-SFO-OGZ (I thought I’d beaten T.T. here for sure, but then he comes back and finishes me off!) – ZUR! Eeh, the things you (we) do when bored, eh? :)

It was just then that a stewardess approached us and told us to switch off all our electronic devices in a thick German accent that brooked no opposition.

Any-Letter Airport Code got me thinking: we could set up and organize a large-scale, multi-participant game of “Boarding Pass Bingo”! The idea is pretty straightforward:

More: A very weird game! No cheating possible …

Worse than Cheese: Scary Scenarios Causing Nightmares Now – the Five Main Issues of IT Security.

I recently found myself wondering how many interviews with the press I do every month. Of course the totals fairly helter skelter between months, but in the busier periods the number can get anywhere up to 70! And that’s only spoken interviews, i.e., those done in person or over the phone. If I were to also include e-mail interviews – the number would be just silly.

But I don’t complain. In fact just the opposite – I love interviews! Which reminds me of Richard Branson and his simple rule about interviews: “If CNN rings me up and wants to do an interview with me, I’ll drop everything to do it.” I also follow this rule – to the letter – and not without good reason.

Most interviews are what you’d expect. I get asked lots of questions, I answer them as best I can, and that’s about it.

But in a very few rare instances I get interviewed by a really well read-up journalist, meticulous to the point of hair-splitting, who not only knows all about me and KL and what we do, but also all about the particular narrow topic the interview’s about. By the end of the allotted hour I’m exhausted, the mind’s pretty much frazzled, and I feel like my very soul’s been extracted together with my long-winded answers to the sophisticated questions.

These are the trickiest and most trying kinds of interviews, but also the most useful. Why? Because during such intense sessions the gray matter inside the skull shifts up a gear or three and really gets to work, thinking in new ways and approaching familiar topics from fresh standpoints – to such an extent that after the end of the interview the momentum keeps the ideas coming, leading to all sorts of new insights. All really quite fascinating how creative cognition comes about. And all kicked-off by super-sharp reporters doing their job masterfully. Respect due. And a thank you!

Curiously, what unites such “special” interviews with regular ones is an inevitable question about the most pressing IT Security issues today – something like: “What keeps you up at night (in terms of IT Security hazards)?”! And I don’t get asked this all the time just by journalists in interviews. The question pops up at practically every IT conference I speak at.

And so: as promised earlier, here I’m presenting my List of the Five Main Issues Facing IT Security, in the broad sense of the term.

I should say straight away that I don’t have prescriptions for solving all five issues. The aim of this post is more to identify the problems, let you start to muse on them, and hopefully draw you into the fold of their ongoing discussion by raising your interest, empathy and/or sympathy!

Right, here’s my list:

  1. Privacy
  2. Internet Passports
  3. Social Networks
  4. Cybercrime
  5. Cyberwarfare

More: getting into details …