Monthly Archives: October 2019

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked this question in 30 years…

Hi folks!

Can you guess what question I’m asked most of all during interviews and press conferences?

It started being asked back in the 1990s, quickly becoming the feared question that used to make me want to roll my eyes (I resisted the temptation:). Then after a few years I decided to simply embrace its inevitability and unavoidability, and started to improvise a bit and add extra detail to my answers. And still today, though my answers have been published and broadcast in probably all the mass media in the whole world – often more than once – I am asked it over and over, again and again. Of late though, it’s like I’ve come full circle: when I’m asked it I actually like to remember those days of long ago!

So, worked it out yet?

The question is: ‘What was the first virus you found?’ (plus questions relating to it, like when did I find it, how did I cure the computer it had infected, etc.).

Clearly, an important question, since, if it weren’t for it infecting my computer all those years ago: I may not have made a rather drastic career change; I may not have created the best antivirus in the world; I may not have raised one of the largest private companies in cybersecurity, and a lot more besides. So yes, a fateful role did that virus play – that virus that was among the early harbingers of what was to follow: billions of its ‘descendants’, then, later, cybercrime, cyberwarfare, cyber-espionage, and all the cyber-bad-guys behind it all – in every corner of the globe.

Anyway – the answer finally, perhaps?…

The virus’s name was Cascade.

But, why, suddenly, all the nostalgia about this virus?

Read on…

Many an exclusive photo – from Beirut’s Jeita Grotto.

!folks مرحبا

Now, if ever you’re in Lebanon, whatever you do don’t miss out Jeita Grotto, which is just 15 minutes outside Beirut in a car. It’s title is in the singular, but the grotto actually refers to a ‘system’ of two separate (though interconnected) karstic limestone caves. The upper one is mostly dry and gigantic; the lower one features a river, is generally smaller in size, but it’s length is a full seven kilometers (!), which is five kilometers longer than the upper cave.

Here’s the upper cave:

Read on…

Flickr photostream

  • Beijing
  • Beijing
  • Beijing
  • Beijing

Instagram photostream

A leisurely route – around Beirut.

For many of you, what you associate with the brand ‘Beirut’ will probably be nothing too positive. Unfortunately, there are many objective reasons for that. The main one – there was a very long civil war here; there’ve been assorted other armed conflicts since then too. Details of the civil war made the headlines throughout the 1980s all over the world, with its awfulness even trickling down into pop songs – both in the East and the West. I won’t go into the reasons behind the civil war… because I can’t, for there is practically nothing but lies about them if you try to research them (.

Beirut was partially destroyed, but when peace finally came about this blessed land took on a new lease of life. From my hotel room and the hotel’s roof – the city today looks like this today:

Read on…

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Byblos – the oldest city in the world. Probyblos.

Hi folks!

Herewith, I continue my historical-archeological dispatches from what is today known as Lebanon. Specifically – from Byblos, one of the oldest cities in the world.

Quite how old no one can really say for sure, but the internet rumors it to be around 9000 years! The guides who were showing us round – plus the info on the walls here – give the more modest figure of approximately 6000 years. Others say ~7000; still others – ~8000. Whatever – give or take a few thousand years (!), this city is still for sure one of the world’s very oldest.

Read on…

Threat Intelligence Portal: We need to go deeper.

I understand perfectly well that for 95% of you this post will be of no use at all. But for the remaining 5%, it has the potential to greatly simplify your working week (and many working weekends). In other words, we’ve some great news for cybersecurity pros – SOC teams, independent researchers, and inquisitive techies: the tools that our woodpeckers and GReAT guys use on a daily basis to keep churning out the best cyberthreat research in the world are now available to all of you, and free at that, with the lite version of our Threat Intelligence Portal. It’s sometimes called TIP for short, and after I’ve said a few words about it here, immediate bookmarking will be mandatory!

The Threat Intelligence Portal solves two main problems for today’s overstretched cybersecurity expert. First: ‘Which of these several hundred suspicious files should I choose first?’; second: ‘Ok, my antivirus says the file’s clean – what’s next?’

Unlike the ‘classics’ – Endpoint Security–class products, which return a concise Clean/Dangerous verdict, the analytic tools built into the Threat Intelligence Portal give detailed information about how suspicious a file is and in what specific aspects. And not only files. Hashes, IP addresses, and URLs can be thrown in too for good measure. All these items are quickly analyzed by our cloud and the results on each handed back on a silver platter: what’s bad about them (if anything), how rare an infection is, what known threats they even remotely resemble, what tools were used to create it, and so on. On top of that, executable files are run in our patented cloud sandbox, with the results made available in a couple of minutes.

Read on…

Bodacious Cappadocia cliffs and caves.

I’ve already shown you the oddly shaped rock formations up on the surface here at Cappadocia. Turns out the unusual shape theme continues underneath the surface too: man-made caves – ‘upside-down skyscrapers’. Well, why not? After all, pumice is very soft for a rock, so it’s not crazy difficult to carve out (as it no doubt was in Baalbek); also – it doesn’t need strengthening; also – due to the dry climate there’s no water needs pumping out from the underground depths.

Then it seems that everything was forgotten about and abandoned (as often happened), and the caves were taken over by dust, decay and depression. Then, centuries – or millennia – later, Homo sapiens rediscovered them, and archeologists, historians and researchers got down to revealing them though their archeological digs. Today, many of the underground ‘neighborhoods’ have been dug out, cleaned, tidied, fitted with staircases and electricity (!), and probably will have free Wi-Fi fitted very soon too – all to cater for the many tourists who visit.

Read on…

All okie-dokia – in Cappadocia.

If you’ve heard of Cappadocia, you’ll probably know it for one of two things – or maybe both: its strange-shaped pyramid-columns, or (and) the many hot-air balloons that often fill the sky there. Well I’d heard of the place, but had never been, but wanted to for a very long time. The place even has a spot in my Top-100 Must-See Most-Beautiful Places in the World, so it was high time I made a visit seeing as though I was in the region recently…

Read on…

The Black Sea resort of Sochi – the perfect setting for a conference on industrial cybersecurity.

After a spot of globetrotting – Beirut > Tianjin – it was time to head somewhere a bit closer to home: Sochi! Wey-hey – here come a few days working in a resort town. For it was here where we had our recent industrial cyber-event…

Since the temperatures in Moscow were taking their usual descent toward 0°C, it was most pleasant to know I’d still be in a t-shirt-weather-place after Lebanon-China. Woah – mid-20s – perfect! Our connection was in Moscow – Sheremetyevo – and it was damp and dark and +8°C outside – but we didn’t go outside. It was six in the morning, there was no one about, and we were through a tunnel/walkway, past passport control and to Terminal F in no time at all. Nothing like what my regular travel companion, D.Z., recently experienced (hours of waiting, lengthy lines, almost missing his connection onward). But I digress…

Anyway, we get to Sochi. Sun: out. The number of our guests: 320! Where from? – all over the globe! Event? – our Industrial Cybersecurity Conference 2019! (btw – here in Sochi for the second year running; the first one was just perfect, so we figured – let’s repeat it!).

Read on…

Nighttime in… Tianjin; plus the odd tale of Chinese AV – given away for free!

Straight after our Top-100 tourism in Lebanon, I suddenly found myself in… China! Specifically, on the Heihe River (the upper part of the Rui Shui River) in the city of Tianjin!

It was my second time in the city, having been here precisely seven years ago. I remember that trip very well – mostly: that I was bowled over by its spaciousness, cleanliness and neatness. Since then, I can report that the city has grown in population – clearly visible by the increased numbers of vehicles on the roads and folks on the sidewalks along the riverbank – on a Sunday evening. Come the following evening – the city was a lot less crowded, with some places practically deserted.

This time we were having a boat trip along the river through the city at night, and it turned out to be wonderful! The Chinese sure do know how to light up their cities at night:

Read on…

The filmmaking feats and photographic treats of our American friends on the Kuril expedition.

I’ve already mentioned a few times that we had a few American friends along for the ride adventure in the Far East, and that I’d be ‘getting to them’ later on. Well that later on has arrived!…

So who were these folks from the U. S. of A. (and a few other countries), who traveled with me and my regular expeditioners?

First up – Mr. Chris Burkard, the very famous and very successful photographer of all things extreme, distant, fantastic – often and preferably all three at the same time. He’d heard lots about the Kurils, and had long dreamed of exploring and snapping them. So one day, while researching the islands on the internet, he couldn’t help but come across my blog and ephoto-albums, since there probably is no other blogger/amateur photographer who’s written and snapped the islands more than moi. I mean – really, you can’t avoid Me & D.Z. and Co. on the net if you search for anything Kuril-related: if you simply put in the name of a Kuril volcano into Google Images – a ton of our holiday snaps come up toward the top of the list!

Read on…