NOTA BENE

Notes, comment and buzz from Eugene Kaspersky – Official Blog

September 2, 2015

Top-100 Series: South America.

South America

Continuing our slow migration across the surface of the globe as per my Top-100, it’s now the turn of South America to show us what it’s got.

And it’s got plenty…

18. Angel Falls, Venezuela

The highest waterfall in the world; almost a kilometer of free-falling water. Haven’t been myself, but have heard rave reports and seen prodigious pics.

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info_ru_20wiki_enmap_ru_20gmapsPhotosgoogleflickr

Read on: deserts and salt flats …

August 28, 2015

Kamchatka-2015 – top to bottom!

In my humble opinion, Kamchatka is the most fascinating and beautiful place on the planet. Bold statement, I know; but coming from a power-globetrotter like myself, maybe you won’t reject it out of hand? If you do – read the upcoming series of posts on this year’s An-Kam (annual Kamchatka), and let’s see if you haven’t been convinced by then!

Voluptuous volcanoes with colossal craters with multicolored lakes, + unearthly surrounding landscapes, geysers and hot springs, + lazy wild brown bears roaming free, + red caviar applied on your sandwiches not with a knife but with a spade – or JCB excavator :).

In particular, there are dozens of natural uniquenesses all populated with original flora and fauna concentrated to within a relatively narrow stretch of territory along the peninsula’s southern volcanic spine. This magical strip of natural beauty is in all just 600km long. It runs from the Klyuchevskaya Sopka group of volcanoes in the north, via the peninsula’s capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, and down to Kambalny and Koshelev in the south. Here it is:

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Read on: Kamchatka is way cooler than all other earthly beauties…

August 27, 2015

Top-100 Series: North America, Part 2.

Hi folks,

In continuation of my revised and revamped Top-100 of the most remarkable, interesting, enchanting and beautiful places and countries of the world, here’s the next installment: part 2 of the very best – IMHO – places to visit in North America, i.e., the North American continent, which (of course?:) includes Central American countries and the Caribbean islands.

First, for starters, a few pics from this part of the world…

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North America, Part 2.

August 24, 2015

Kamchatka-2015 – aperitif.

“Further [vertically] up there, there’s a path!”

– Our guide, Fyodr.

 

Hi all!

Phew! Back to civilization from the harsh wilds of Kamchatka, and beginning the slow acclimatization back to modern city life and all its creature comforts.

In all we trekked 315km on foot, and probably traveled thousands of kilometers in all-terrain vehicles and caterpillar-track transporters, helicopters and snowmobiles (cars aren’t much use in Kamchatka:), and on the vertical axis we covered around 7000 meters on foot too.

We got up close to six or so volcanoes, sizzled in six hot springs, and saw untold numbers of bears!

Alas, the weather spoiled approximately a quarter of our route around the peninsula: we had to miss a couple of volcanoes (there was little point walking around in the dense cloud they were shrouded in), plus some of our intended on-foot route became part of the chopper route. Apart from that though, mercifully – for the there’s no climate in the world more unpredictable than Kamchatka’s – everything worked out superbly!

Stay tuned for the starter – Kamchatkan borsch, of course :)…

 

August 21, 2015

Top-100 Series: North America – Part 1.

Howdy folks!

I’ve started – so I’ll finish. In my lengthy prelude, I promised to lay before you my updated Top-100 Must-See Places in the World in several portions over several posts. You’ve already had my new – extra – Top-20 Cities. Next up is a set of Top-Non-City-Must-See-Places – actually 17 of them – out of the Top-100, all of which are in the first continent I’ll be tackling: North America. A quick guide to the most astonishingly amazing places therein – most of which I’ve been lucky enough to visit in person, and all of which contain a particularly high concentration of natural and/or man-made beauty and/or unusualness. In this post – the first 10 entries; in the next post – the remaining seven.

So why North America? Or, rather, why this particular continent first?

Well, it just seemed the natural place to start, as it’s – normally – up in the top left-hand corner of a world map. From there I’ll be taking you on a trip around the globe with the following route: down through Central America, and through South America. Next – across the Atlantic to Europe, across Russia to its far eastern reaches. Then it’s back west and down to the Middle East, across Central Asia to India and Indochina, then up to China itself with brief stops at other assorted Asian spots. Next: again back west to start another eastern movement: Africa > Australia and Oceania. And last but not least: Antarctica. That’s the basic outline of the route as I see it now, anyway. So, ready? // Phone off, popcorn microwaved, beverage prepared, soft armchair… off we go!…

Of course, if I lived in China or America the world map used in the above snakes and ladders across the globe might have looked a little lot different. Or, if I lived in Australia, it might have looked like this:

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Read on: Geographical authoritarianism…

August 14, 2015

The abracadabra of anonymous sources.

Who killed JFK?

Who’s controlling the Bermuda Triangle?

What’s the Freemasons’ objective?

Easy! For it turns out that answers to these questions couldn’t be more straightforward. All you have to do is add: ‘according to information from anonymous sources‘, and voila! — there’s your answer — to any question, about anything, or anyone. And the answers are all the more credible – not because of their… credibility – but because of the level of prestige commonly ascribed to the particular media outlet that broke the story.

Just recently, Reuters got a ‘world exclusive’ of jaw-dropping proportions in the antivirus world. The article, filled with sensational – false – allegations, claims Kaspersky Lab (KL), creates very specific, targeted malware, and distributes it anonymously to other anti-malware competitors, with the sole purpose of causing serious trouble for them and harming their market share. Oh yes. But they forgot to add that we conjure all this up during steamy banya sessions, after parking the bears we ride outside.

The Reuters story is based on information provided by anonymous former KL employees. And the accusations are complete nonsense, pure and simple.

Disgruntled ex-employees often say nasty things about their former employers, but in this case, the lies are just ludicrous. Maybe these sources managed to impress the journalist, but in my view publishing such an ‘exclusive’ – WITHOUT A SHRED OF EVIDENCE – is not what I understand to be good journalism. I’m just curious to see what these ‘ex-employees’ tell the media next time about us, and who might believe their BS.

The reality is that the Reuters story is a conflation of a number of facts with a generous amount of pure fiction.

In 2012-2013, the anti-malware industry suffered badly because of serious problems with false positives. And unfortunately, we were among the companies badly affected. It turned out to be a coordinated attack on the industry: someone was spreading legitimate software laced with malicious code targeting specifically the antivirus engines of many companies, including KL. It remains a mystery who staged the attack, but now I’m being told it was me! I sure didn’t see that one coming, and am totally surprised by this baseless accusation!

Here’s how it happened: in November 2012 our products produced false positives on several files that were in fact legitimate. These were the Steam client, Mail.ru game center, and QQ client. An internal investigation showed that these incidents occurred as the result of a coordinated attack by an unknown third party.

For several months prior to the incidents, through intra-industry information-exchange channels such as the VirusTotal website, our anti-malware research lab repeatedly received numerous slightly modified legitimate files of Steam, Mail.ru and QQ. The creator(s) of these files added pieces of malicious code to them.

Later we came to the conclusion that the attackers might have had prior knowledge of how different companies’ detection algorithms work and injected the malicious code precisely in a place where auto systems would search for it.

These newly received modified files were evaluated as malicious and stored in our databases. In total, we received several dozen legitimate files containing malicious code.

False positives started to appear once the legitimate owners of the files released updated versions of their software. The system compared the files to the malware database – which contained very similar files – and deemed the legitimate files malicious. After that, we upgraded our detection algorithms to avoid such detections.

Meanwhile the attacks continued through 2013 and we continued to receive modified legitimate files. We also became aware that our company was not the only one targeted by this attack: other industry players received these files as well and mistakenly detected them.

In 2013 there was a closed-door meeting among leading cybersecurity and other software industry players that also suffered from the attack – as well as vendors that were not affected by the problem but were aware of it. During that meeting the participants exchanged information about the incidents, tried to figure out the reasons behind them, and worked on an action plan. Unfortunately no breakthrough occurred, though some interesting theories regarding attribution were expressed. In particular, the participants of the meeting considered that some other AV vendor could be behind the attack, or that the attack was an attempt by an unknown but powerful malicious actor to adjust its malware in order to avoid detection by key AV products.

Accusations such as these are nothing new. As far back as the late nineties I’d take with me to press conferences a placard with the word ‘No!’ on it. It saved me so much time. I’d just point to it when every third question was: “Do you write viruses yourselves, for your product to then ‘cure’ the infections?” Oh yeah. Sure. And still today I get asked the same all the time. Do they really think an 18+ year-old business built 100% on trust would be doing such things?

It seems some folks just prefer to presume guilt until innocence is proven. I guess there’ll always be folks like that. C’est la vie. But I really do hope that people will see through these anonymous, silly and groundless accusations… What I can say for sure is that we’ll continue working very closely with the industry to make the digital world safer, and that our commitment and resolve to expose cyberthreats regardless of their source or origin won’t waiver.

.@kaspersky rubbishes claims they poisoned competitors with false positivesTweet

August 12, 2015

My new Top-20: Cities.

Hi folks!

Following on from the prelude, herewith, my recently formed list of what are to me the world’s Top-20 cities. In this post I’ll briefly describe and present pics of my Top-20 most interesting and unique districts, quarters or whole cities of the world that I recommend everyone should visit one day. It should go without saying I’ve been to all 20 – most times often, unlike some of the must-sees in my main list.

But first – rewind: How are my Top-100 and now Top-20 made up?

First, by using my own eyes and senses. I’m lucky enough to have a job in which I globetrot for nearly six months out of every 12. The primary reason: business. But why not mix it with the pleasure of a tourist? Why not indeed.

Eugene Kaspersky's top-100 must see places of the world

Read on: Places, which hardly require anybody’s recommendation…

August 6, 2015

Reykjavikian white nights.

You know the score by now: I globetrot a lot on business. On my trips, if I’ve any stamina still left of an evening in the hotel – or afterwards on the flight back home/onwards – I share my (mostly) non-business-related impressions with you, dear readers of this blog. Sometimes stamina gets depleted – either from an intense business agenda, or from visiting too many places in too short a time.

Times like these, since I’m most always accompanied on my trips, I often pass the blogging reins over to a fellow traveler, who also has a pair of eyes – and invariably also has a much more fancy camera than me. For they like to write down their thoughts and impressions from the road too.

One such occasion recently arose after a midnight stroll around the Icelandic capital. And it wasn’t due to my being too tired this time: I had some work to do early the next day. Anyway, for whatever reason, here’s what DZ has to say about Reykjavik at night in summer…

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Reykjavik sits 64 degrees north of the equator; that’s the same as central Alaska or Arkhangelsk in Northern Russia. So yes, it gets cold. The place also has all the peculiar atmospheric phenomena associated with this high northern latitude. And in summer – the most interesting of these atmospheric phenomena, IMHO, are the ‘White Nights‘ – where the sun doesn’t really go down at all at night as it never sets over the horizon at it’s so far north.

Here in Reykjavik the ‘nights’ are of course shorter – and whiter – than in St. Petersburg, which is five degrees latitude lower down the planet. So it just wouldn’t have been right to not have had a walkabout the city, camera in hand, on our first night here. So we did the right thing…

Totally right: a leisurely ‘night’ stroll around Reykjavik in July is… unparalleled (apart from with other 64th parallel towns maybe:). It’s probably amazing in December too, but I’ll have to save that for a later date…

Reykjavik has a population of around 120,000 (and over 200,000 in the Capital Region)Reykjavik has a population of around 120,000 (200,000 including its surrounding region). The city is the heart of Iceland’s cultural, economic and governmental activity

In Reykjavik temperatures very rarely drop below −15 °C (5 °F) in the winter because the Icelandic coastal weather in winter is moderated by the Gulf Stream.In Reykjavik temperatures very rarely drop below −15°C (5°F) in the winter because the Icelandic coastal weather in winter is moderated by the Gulf Stream

Read on: Midnight rainbow do exist!…

August 4, 2015

Off-piste and off-the-ground in Iceland.

Herewith, the penultimate installment on the enchanting island of Iceland; namely, on traveling off the beaten track on the ground, and up off the ground too – in a helicopter.

In just four days we covered more than a thousand kilometers of Iceland, but these were anything but boring kilometers. From one place of – particular – interest to the next, there are hundreds more exceptional sights to be seen: ludicrously breathtaking landscapes made up variously of volcanoes, cliffs, glaciers, waterfalls, dark gray fields of volcanic slag, and lava fields coated in seas of green or the lilac of lupine, plus distractingly dazzling dusks and dawns, pastoral scenes with sheep and horses… in short, a veritable feast for the eyes!

The Ring Road's total length is 1,332 kilometres (828 mi)The Ring Road’s total length is 1332 kilometers (828 miles)

Ring Road crosses a few glacial outwash plains, which is subject to frequent glacial outburst floodsThe Ring Road crosses a few glacial outwash plains, which are subject to frequent glacial outburst floods

Icelandic roads

Read on: How we very nearly found ourselves in a drowning incident…

August 4, 2015

Have an Ice day!

All right folks, now for glacial Iceland

Now, Iceland’s glaciers aren’t the biggest in the world, but all the same, the grand glacial vistas, the glacial lakes with icebergs, and the phenomenon of natural might… in sum it’s all fairly spellbinding.

We checked out two glaciers while on the island. First up: Langjökull (here).

It was here I had a go on a snowmobile for the first time! Have to say, I was expecting an easy, comfortable glide across the snow… Turns out snowmobiling at 50+ km/h on wet and powdery snow – neither comfortable nor easy.

There are two highland tracks in Langjökull, but we used none of them. We drove snowmobiles!There are two highland tracks in Langjökull, but we used none of them. We drove snowmobiles!

Read on: more glacierities…