Monthly Archives: March 2017

Mobile Barcelona, or Digital Barcelona?

Location: Earth, Europe, Spain, Catalonia, Barcelona, Mobile World Congress 2017.

Another year, another season, and I’m back into my must-attend event-extraordinaire-schedule. And the Barcelonan MWC is one such must-attend event-extraordinaire. I’ve already written plenty about the basics regarding this annual technology show, and I don’t want to repeat all that this year. But last year I was here for such a short length of time that I had no time to look around properly. This year there were carefully planned pauses between my scheduled appointments, so I was able to get my camera out and go walkabout around this extraordinary exhibition.

But this post isn’t a professional analysis of the Barcelona conference; for that – check out specialized media. Here: merely a synopsis – and pics – of what the CEO of a cybersecurity company found most curiously interesting, if not breathtaking…

1. This event is just so grandiose! Check out my pics from last year, which demonstrate this well. Eight (8!) such exhibition caverns like this:

Read on: Big guns really impress with their big stands…

StoneDrill: We’ve Found New Powerful ‘Shamoon-ish’ Wiper Malware – and It’s Serious.

If you’re a regular reader of this here blog of mine, you’ll know about our GReAT (Global Research and Analysis Team) – 40+ top-notch cybersecurity experts dotted all around the globe specializing in protecting our customers from the most sophisticated cyberthreats out there. GReATers like to compare their work to paleontology: exploring the deep web for the ‘bones’ of ‘cyber monsters’. Some may consider this an old-fashioned approach: what’s so special about analyzing the ‘bones’ of ‘creatures’ from the distant past when it’s protecting your networks from monsters that are alive now that’s key? Well, here’s a fresh story that proves that sometimes you won’t find today’s living monsters without looking at old ones…

Some of you will be aware of so-called wipers – a type of malware which, once installed on an attacked PC, completely wipes all data from it – leaving the owner of the computer with a completely clean, hardly operating piece of hardware. The most famous (and infamous) wiper is Shamoon – malware which in 2012 made a lot of noise in the Middle East by destroying data on 30,000+ endpoints at the world’s largest oil company – Saudi Aramco, and also hitting another energy  giant – Rasgas. Just imagine: 30,000+ pieces of inoperable hardware in the world’s largest  oil company…

Shamoon, Shamoon 2.0, StoneDrill, Newsbeef. The wipers are spreading across the globe

Curiously, since it’s devastating campaign against the Saudi company in 2012, little has been heard of Shamoon, until it returned in 2016 as Shamoon 2.0, with several new waves of attacks – again in the Middle East.

Since the new waves of Shamoon attacks began, we’ve been tuning our sensors to search for as many versions of this malware as possible (because, let’s face it, we don’t want ANY of our customers to EVER be struck by malware like Shamoon). And we managed to find several versions – hurray! But together with our haul of Shamooners, our nets unexpectedly caught a completely new type of wiper malware, which we’ve named StoneDrill.

The code base of StoneDrill is different to that of Shamoon, and that’s why we think it’s a completely new malware family; it also utilizes some advanced detection avoidance techniques, which Shamoon doesn’t. So it’s a new player, for sure. And one of the most unusual – and worrying – things we’ve learned about this malware is that, unlike Shamoon, StoneDrill doesn’t limit the scope of its targets to Saudi Arabia or other neighboring countries. We’ve found only two targets of this malware so far, and one of them is based in Europe.

Why is this worrying? Because this finding indicates that certain malicious actors armed with devastating cyber-tools are testing the water in regions in which previously actors of this type were rarely interested.

Read on: more wipers!…

Flickr photostream

  • Beijing
  • Beijing
  • Beijing
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Instagram photostream

Darwin’s Patent Panopticon – Pt. 3.

Human ingenuity never fails to astonish, leave dumbfounded, and/or smiling. I mean, just look at this:

No, really. This is the main diagram in the US patent for a ‘manually self-operated butt-kicking machine’:

But wait – it gets better when it all gets described in words!

“The Butt kicker is very user friendly with the number of kicking repetitions, type of repetitions, speed of operation, amplitude or height of the kicking cycle, magnitude of the kicking force, and impact and energy of the kick all controlled by the user or operator. This invention is a new, novel, and unique machine with multiple uses, which range from amusement to fundraising and from motivation to discipline. The objectives of this invention are also many, including, but not limited to, teambuilding, self-therapy, to inspire creativity, and to be used as a model for future devices and works of art.”

Btw, it turns out there’s a whole industry (well, almost) dedicated to administering carefully placed kicks to the backside. Here’s another automatic boot-up-the-butt device I discovered in the patent database (seek, and ye shall find:).

Read on: I mean, really? Seriously? Oh yes…

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Antarctic Anticipation and Nostalgia. – pt. 2.

Some of you may be wondering what we were doing on Antarctica in 2009, and how exactly we could claim it was a business trip. So let me tell you…

We unintentionally (and that’s a whole story of its own) became the main sponsor of an all-woman skiing expedition to the South Pole. Now, some time before the expedition itself, some colleagues and I were in Singapore. One evening in a restaurant we all admitted we were rather worried for the ladies on the 40-day (forty-day!) ski across the most inhospitable land on the planet. And that’s when we had a eureka! moment: “Why don’t we go too?!” Ok – not on skis, but to at least be there at the finish to meet and greet and celebrate with the intrepid adventurers. And that’s just what we ended up doing. Then we figured such an ambitiously adventurous jaunt would be interesting not only for us but also for the press – so we invited journalists along too!

So. There was me. There was our then-APAC-director, Harry Cheung (who was the main organizer of the project). There was Aleks Gostev (one of our top experts on cyberthreats, interviewee-extraordinaire, plus a mandatory member of any exotic expedition involving mountains or glaciers or both). Then there were three journalists – two with video cameras, the other – a professional photographer: Alexander Blotnitsky (France Press), Marina Ten (Associated Press), and Denis Davydov (Izvestiya).

We landed at the South Pole at precisely midnight (Moscow time) – on New Year’s Eve! Oh my glacier! New Year’s Eves don’t come more memorable than that :).

Read on: Antarctic nostalgia! …

Riga Station – Another Moscow Must-See.

I really didn’t expect to find in Moscow yet another curious place that is mandatorily must-see – including by children. But the other day we visited one. It was the Exhibition Complex of Russian Railways at Rizhsky Vokzal (Riga Station). Its railroad scale model and other expositions aren’t all that big, but they’re ever so well done. Respect!

Ok, so, it’s not quite the Grand Maket Rossiya in St. Pete, but, in terms of quality of the models (incredible detail, precise movements…) – I’d say it’s on a par.

Read on: A wonderful exhibition!…

Antarctic Anticipation and Nostalgia.

While making preparations for my upcoming creative Antarctic expedition I started to recollect my previous trip to the sixth continent, so had a delve into my photo-archive thereof. Ahhhhh, the nostalgia: I was reminded of how it was one of the most… OMG/ unforgettable/ outstanding adventures of my life; but, then, it would be. How could a trip to the South Pole itself not be? What’s more – a business trip there!!!

I took that many photos, and wrote that many words describing my polar adventure, that eventually a whole photo-travelogue book was published, an electronic version of which can still be downloaded from my blog (along with other books penned by me).

What you might not know is that practically anyone in good health and with sufficient (minimal) training can go to the South Pole. Ok, it will cost you quite a bit – say, that same as you’d pay for a brand new large Mercedes – but, well, extreme tourism always costs a lot more than beach holidays. So if you fancy it – get in touch with the company ALE, and off you pop (between November and February every year).

So how does it all happen – getting to the South Pole?

Read on: First you get to Punta Arenas…