Monthly Archives: October 2021

What’s the story – morning glory?!

There’s an extraordinary, rather rare, optical phenomenon that goes by the name of a glory, called so no doubt because of its resemblance to a halo. It’s caused by the shadow of an airplane (or some other object) on some clouds, which shadow becomes encircled by rainbow-esque rings – almost like a rainbow that’s perfectly round (which, actually, does occur, but only in very rare circumstances), but this isn’t a full-circle rainbow, it’s a glory. Confused yet?!

Curiously, the airplane’s shadow in the middle can disappear, leaving just the glory. You can get to see such an effect from a plane (if you’re lucky) coming in to land in cloudy weather if you sit at a window that’s not facing the sun. Which is where we were sitting; and this glory showed itself upon the dense cloud cover below us. I hadn’t seen this mysterious optical phenomenon at such a height for ages. This one was probably due to the air being relatively clean and fresh =>

Read on…

A few thoughts – about empty airports.

I’ll cut straight to the chase: herewith, a commentary on life today in international hub-airports, where there were always crowds of travelers rushing about here and there: many – tourists, some folks on business (like me), some going to another country in the hope of finding better work, others perhaps almost by mistake buying tickers to fly off somewhere – anywhere (not a strategy that should be laughed at – only the brave may even consider it, and who says it’s not the ‘right’ strategy re where one lives, stays, or migrates to or from around the globe?).

Wait… what was all that? And all in one long sentence too? And all I wanted to do was upload a few photos ).

All righty. What I’m getting round to saying in a very long-winded way here is that, last week, I ‘tested’ a full three international airline hubs personally (plus Moscow’s Sheremetyevo, which is also a hub, about which I can tell a great many tales. Maybe I’ll get round to that one day?)…

So. Airports…

First impressions: dismal.

London’s Heathrow Airport seemed to be up and running as per its usual busy self, but maybe I didn’t look round well enough.

Copenhagen Airport was also lively as a hub should be, or at least certainly getting there.

But my real astonishment came while waiting for a connecting flight in Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport

Read on…>

Flickr photostream

  • Liechtenstein
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  • Liechtenstein

Instagram photostream

Whirlwind Copenhagen.

This brief fieldtrip report will be a short one, since I was in the Danish capital in all just two-and-a-half days, and was busy with work mostly: four public speaking appearances, a slew of meetings, a dinner with clients… oh – and there was also my 56th birthday, which I managed to celebrate a little. As for micro-tourism, we’d two or three hours set aside for this in the itinerary, but, as luck would have it, it was raining cats and dogs and a gale was blowing at the allotted time: result – no micro-tourism; result of that – little to write here I’m afraid folks…

So let’s see. Ah yes – I’ll start with a few… curious photos of me up on stage during my first presentation:

My next speech was to a Danish CISO club. It was in a very swish, clearly very old, classic-imperial hall with Roman columns and wood-paneled walls adorned with grand old paintings depicting significant (probably local/national) historical events. Very impressive. Thing is… I don’t know the name of the place! So if there’s anyone among you, dear readers, who could let me know (by checking the pic below) – in the comments, I’d be much obliged. I’d love to read up on the place’s history…

Here’s the pic of the hall, taken from the back:

When I took that, in 15 minutes I’d be up on stage addressing the audience. So how did it go? Splendidly! I said what needed saying (geopolitics get outta here + some of our success stories), and I joshed a bit (as I do; I can’t help it:), and the crowd… they weren’t just smiling, weren’t just chuckling… they were roaring with whoops of laughter! So much for skeptical! So, like I say – splendid ).

Sorry for the poor quality photos. My fault – I took the wrong camera 😕.

After my speech, I noticed a wooden… contraption, which, I was told, was once used for ‘collecting dues for the army’. No complaints there: Russia and Denmark have never been at war with each other ).

Here’s me and a good journalist from a good magazine. Check out our expressions and body language!

Btw – you see the painting in the background? All those top-hatted gentlemen – in the very hall I’d just given a speech in… Didn’t politicians all dress like that 200 years ago? Hmmm – I think I’m getting warmer as to the identity of this place: a former parliament building? Maybe even the government’s former premises (surely not current)?… Ok, I’m warmer; but could someone please… bring me up to the boil?…

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Thames Path: from Richmond Lock & Weir to Hampton Court.

I’ll start off by reminding you (since it was quite some time ago) about one of my perennial habits: whenever I’m in London, I go for a walk along the River Thames. And I don’t mean a short stroll along the riverbank, say, opposite the Houses of Parliament near to the London Eye. No, no [eye roll]. I mean a quick march along a considerable length of an unwalked stretch of the famous Thames Path, the extraordinarily long – 300km! – footpath that lines one or the other bank of the river. And I add a new section every year or two (notwithstanding force majeure like global pandemics). I’ve already gotten as far as Hampton Court Bridge from where the path starts (or ends) – at the Thames Barrier. Time to go further!…

1) Previous portions of the route over the years – all here for your perusing pleasure.

2) The last time I walked a length of the Thames Path was in the summer of 2018; accordingly, a memory-freshener of the sights seen along the path so far…

Here’s what’s been covered up to and including 2018:

Segment 1: from the Thames Barrier to Greenwich
Segment 2: from Greenwich (and the Cutty Sark) to the Jubilee Bridges
Segment 3: from the Jubilee Bridges to Putney Pier
Segment 4: from Putney Pier to Richmond locks
Segment 5: Richmond to Hampton Court. We got lost! Still need to get to Hampton Court…

Next up (can you guess?!) – Richmond to Hampton Court!…

All righty. This time we’d got the route right, but it looked like we’d got the weather wrong: it was drizzling all day. Wait – we’re in London. Surely that’s ‘right’, as in – typical? )

The system of locks and weirs on the Thames is used for controlling the flow of water down the river, enabling boats to navigate along much of it. Old-school it sure is too (completely analog, with good security [no internet connection:]) – with its being documented as far back as the Middle Ages! However, the lock in Richmond is a relatively new addition, opened as it was in 1894 – 127 years ago!

Read on…

Ransomware: how we’re making our protection against it even better.

Being a developer of cybersecurity: it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it (well!).

Our products seek and destroy malware, block hacker attacks, do update management, shut down obtrusive ad banners, protect privacy, and a TONS more… and it all happens in the background (so as not to bother you) and at a furious pace. For example, KIS can check thousands of objects either on your computer or smartphone in just one second, while your device’s resource usage is near zero: we’ve even set the speedrunning world record playing the latest Doom with KIS working away in the background!

Keeping things running so effectively and at such a furious pace has, and still does require the work of hundreds of developers, and has seen thousands of human-years invested in R&D. Just a millisecond of delay here or there lowers the overall performance of a computer in the end. But at the same time we need to be as thorough as possible so as not to let a single cyber-germ get through ).

Recently I wrote a post showing how we beat demolished all competition (10 other popular cybersecurity products) in testing for protection against ransomware – today the most dangerous cyber-evil of all. So how do we get top marks on quality of protection and speed? Simple: by having the best technologies, plus the most no-compromise detection stance, multiplied by optimization ).

But, particularly against ransomware, we’ve gone one further: we’ve patented new technology for finding unknown ransomware with the use of smart machine-learning models. Oh yes.

The best protection from cyberattacks is multi-level protection. And not simply using different protective tools from different developers, but also at different stages of malware’s activity: penetration, deployment, interaction with the command center, and launch of the malicious payload (and this is how we detect the tiniest of hardly-noticeable anomalies in the system, analysis of which leads to the discovery of fundamentally new cyberattacks).

Now, in the fight against ransomware, protective products traditionally underestimate final stage – the stage of the actual encryption of data. ‘But, isn’t it a bit late for a Band-Aid?’, you may logically enquire ). Well, as the testing has shown (see the above link) – it is a bit too late for those products that cannot roll back malware activity; not for products that can and do. But you only get such functionality on our and one other (yellow!) product. Detecting attempts at encryption is the last chance to grab malware red-handed, zap it, and return the system to its original state!

Ok, but how can you tell – quickly, since time is of course of the essence – when encryption is taking place?

Read on…

Kamchatka-2021: more mirages – in Volcano Alley.

There’s a ‘Volcano Alley‘ (some translations put it as ‘Avenue of the Volcanoes‘) in Ecuador, which features around a dozen photogenic volcanoes, all of which are at least four kilometers in height. Been, seen, was impressed: a grandiose must-see location for any volcano fan worth their lava. Well, there’s a volcano alley/avenue in Kamchatka too, only here – true to Kamchatkan lack of development modesty – there’s no official title (actually, Ecuador’s isn’t really an official title, but it’s getting there). The heights of the volcanoes here can’t compare with the Ecuadorian ones, but the elegant gracefulness of the constructions – the cones, craters, surrounding vegetation and landscapes – is for sure on a par with that of their South American cousins:

The full length of the alley – some 50km – can be trekked at a steady pace in three to four days: from Bezymianny in the north, down to the southern slopes of Tolbachik:

Read on…

London – from ghost city to ghosts running round it!

London. Picture it…

Big Ben? The Houses of Parliament? That cool bridge, which isn’t London Bridge? Buckingham Palace? Oxford Street?… All that.

But what normally comes with all those iconic landmarks? Yes, of course – crowds; or – if not quite crowds, at least plenty of folks milling about here and there: some – locals; plenty – tourists. At least, that’s how it used to be…

But last Sunday, early morning, the capital seemed to have been deserted. No folks, no noise, no cars. Oxford Street – totally empty; the crossroads along it – not a soul to be seen! Look! ->

Read on…

Once upon a time in London.

Spot the difference! ->

Once – in 2014 – in London:

And once – in 2021 – in London:

Of course, I didn’t go to the British capital (just!) to look at giraffes. We had a busy business schedule planned…

First course – cybersecurity conference, organized by Tortoise Media (please don’t ask me why it’s called Tortoise. Still, not a bad idea: how can you forget it?:). They’d asked me to come and give a speech, I’d duly replied it’d be my pleasure, and a few months later – it was my pleasure!

Read on…

Formula-1 in Sochi: bright and colorful, despite the weather.

What a difference a couple weeks makes? From sunny Sochi to shivery-and-showery Sochi. Not that it seemed to make a difference to the numbers of folks promenade-ing, café-ing, and also now electro-scootering. You’d think is was July!…

The weather also didn’t put a dampener on the Grand Prix either, with this year’s stands being rammed full:

The only downside for us was that the VIP fans were permitted neither into the paddock, nor the garages by the pits: totally forbidden! All to do with folks having to stay in their separate bubbles.

Read on…

Ransomware: what protects against it best?

What’s the No. 1 most unpleasant pain in the xxx thorn in the side of the modern-day cyber-world in terms of damage, evil sophistication, and headline-grabbing the world over? Can you guess?…

Ah, the title of this post may have given it away, but yes, of course, it’s ransomware (aka cryptomalware, but I’ll stick with the simpler, less tongue-twisting, and professional term ‘ransomware’).

So: ransomware. Bad. How bad?…

Well, it’s actually so bad, and has been so consistently bad for years, so deeply embedded in all things digital, and has so overwhelmed so many large organizations (even indirectly being followed by human deaths), which (large organizations) have forked out so much money to pay ransoms for, that the world’s news media has become almost indifferent to it. It’s stopped being headline news, having been transformed into an every-day casual event. And that’s what’s most worrying of all: it means the cyber-scumbags (apologies for such a strong language, but it’s really the best way to describe these folks) are winning; cyber-extortion is becoming a seemingly inevitable reality of today’s digital world and it seems there’s nothing can be done about it.

And they’re winning for three reasons:

Third (I’ll start at the end): the ‘big boys’ are still playing their schoolyard geopolitical games, which blocks national cyber-polices exchanging operational information for coordinated searching, catching, arresting and charging of ransomware operators.

Second: users aren’t prepared – resilient – enough to respond to such attacks.

And first (most important): not all washing powders are the same anti-ransomware technologies are equally effective – by a long way.

Often, ‘on the tin’, anti-ransomware technologies featured in cybersecurity solutions are claimed to be effective. But in practice they don’t quite do exactly what it says on the tin, or – if they do, consistently. And what does this mean? That users are scandalously unprotected against very professional, technically sophisticated ransomware attacks.

But don’t just take my word for it. Check what the trusted German testing institute – AV-TEST – say. They’ve just published complex research on the ability of cybersecurity products to tackle ransomware. They paid no attention whatsover to marketing claims (à la ‘this deodorant is guaranteed to last for 48 hours’), and didn’t just use widely-know in-the-wild ransomware samples. They besieged several of the top cybersecurity solutions in real ‘battlefield’ conditions, firing at them all sorts of live-ammunition ransomware artillery that’s actually out there today. As mentioned, no in-the-wild samples, but those technically capable of weaponizing a ransomware attack. And what did they find? On the whole – something thoroughly shocking and scary:

Read on…