K(E)L(vis) has left the building.

Ladies and gentlemen!

I’ve got some very good news! Well, at least, for some – particularly KL employees…

Our decade and a half of rented-office-space hopping has officially come to an end. Yep, we’ve finally done it – we’ve gone and bought an office building – rather, three. Well, better late than never, I guess. Anyway, just recently, the last of the last of the departments which were holding out at the old office (at Oktiyabrskoye Pole ([Red] October Field)) in the north-western suburbs of Moscow) have finally left it for good, turning up for work the next day at the new office, as can be seen in this photo – of our corporate admin elite and their favorite rubber plants:

Kaspersky Lab New Moscow Office

Yup, we now have our own small piece of north-west Moscow, housing more than 1500 company HQ employees who’ve voluntarily signed up for careers in the fight against global cyberevil.

More: homes sweet homes…

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The sysadmin: the controller, the gatekeeper, the security-police, and more. Don’t mess.

The system administrator – also sometimes affectionately known as the computer guy/girl – is a fairly well known figure at any company with more than a handful of employees. Stereotypes abound for sysadmins, and even sitcoms are made about the genre. But a lot of those are out-of-date and silly generalizations (my sysadmin @ HQ is neat and well-groomed – verging on the Hipster, with long blond fringe and side parting!)

So, really, just who is the sysadmin?

Right. All of us – computer users – are divided into three categories in terms of the answer to this question. To the first category, a sysadmin is an angry bearded devil, a computer whiz(ard), and a shaman – all rolled into one. The second category also attributes to sysadmins certain otherworldly traits, but strictly positive ones worthy of repeated bows plus a small gift on every worthy holiday (especially Sysadmin Day). Then there’s the third category of computer users – who don’t take either of these two views of sysadmins; these folks understand they’re just normal folks like the rest of us. And this third category includes the sysadmins themselves!

The shamanic work of sysadmins is eternally interesting: assembling brand new shiny kit, connecting it up with cables (or without them), and also commanding control over mice and keyboards – sometimes from thousands of miles away – and installing or reconfiguring software on a comp from the comfort of their own workplace. However, at the same time the work is hard, incredibly accountable, and, alas, in part thankless.

First of all there are the hundreds or thousands of users who all need to be kept happy – most of them clever-Dicks! Then there are the ever-increasing numbers and types of computers and other newfangled devices – all of which need attention and care. And of course there’s the jungle of software, cables and routers, problems with security… And to top it all off there are the ever-present budgetary constraints and dissatisfaction of the management and users. So it should come as no surprise that only sysadmins with iron psyches and healthy, cynical attitudes to life are the only ones who can cope with the job!

Perhaps the biggest headache for sysadmins is how to physically manage all the tasks under their remit. Installing Office here, correcting a setting in Outlook there, connecting a new comp in the neighboring building, and then getting through another 48 tasks scattered all over the office(s) is all going to result in nothing other than sysadmin burnout! Enter systems management to ease the burden…

The majority of routine operations for controlling a network can either be fully automated, or at least performed remotely, without excessive movement about the office. Upgrade an OS on a comp? Install an application? Check what software is installed on the chief accountant’s laptop? Update antivirus and scan a computer for vulnerabilities? Prolong a license? Correct some pesky setting that’s preventing a program from working as it should? All that and a lot more the sysadmin can do today without leaving his/her room with the help of the same systems management. And just think of the improved productivity of labor and lowering of costs! And how much simpler the life of the sysadmin becomes!

In the early 2000s a control system for the security of a network appeared in our products. It formed a teeny-weeny (but oh-so important) part of systems management, responsible for the monitoring of protected workstations, installation and updating of antivirus, and so on.

AVP Network Control Centre

More: 10 years later…

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Back from the dead: the original virus writers.

Hi all!

A great many computer security events occur around the world all the time, but the RSA Conference is one of the most important of all of them. What exactly it’s all about here I’ll not go into; instead I’ll just share with you some pics from the gig. The photos were taken the day before it started while the stands were still being set up, so though all the installations aren’t ready, at least you can see the near-completed scene without throngs of visitors getting in the way…

RSA Conference 2013Stylish stands

More: Jam of resurrection Joes…

MDM: Mobile Discipline Mastery.

You’ll no doubt concur with the following observation:

You see them everywhere: folks in elevators, coffee shops, subways, taxis, airports and airplanes, at concerts and parties, on sidewalks, and in darkened cinemas (dammit!), in fact, folks in just about any situation possible – you’ll always find some – no, lots – of them concentrating on, and/or tapping away at the touchscreens of, their smartphones and tablets. And let’s face it – you too do the same, right? (Apart from in the darkened cinema, of course :)

So just what is it these perennial smartphone tappers are up to? Gaming? IMing? Watching movies, or reading the news or an e-book?

All are possible. But more often than not I’ve been observing that at any given convenient moment, any time of day or night, and in any weather, lots of folks tend to be checking their work email and solving work tasks. Yep, on their own absurd-money smartphones! Outside business hours. Without coercion and with plenty of enthusiasm, or, at least, without grumbling :). I sometimes even see them sighing and unconscious pouts forming upon their lips in disappointment that no one’s writing to them!

So why all this 24/7 “at the office, kinda”, all of a sudden? Maybe it’s a cunning virus that infects users’ brains directly from the screen? (Hmmm, that gives me an idea for April 1, 2013:) Or is it that the business management gurus have had it wrong all along re employee motivation? All that was needed in fact was to just connect pretty little glass devices armed with an Internet connection – bought by the employee I might add – to the corporate network! What could be simpler? And that’s exactly what’s been happening; here’s proof: according to Forrester 53% of employees use their own devices for work.

Mobile Device Management

More: The other side of BYOD…

Obama: patents patently barmy.

A serious issue I’ve been critically writing and talking about for several years now has finally made its way up through the echelons of power to find itself being officially recognized – and condemned – by no less than the President of the USA! Indeed, the day before President’s Day Barack Obama issued a strong rebuke against patent trolls! When asked to comment on the current situation as regards the protection of intellectual property and abuses of patents, he came out with the following gem:

“The folks that you’re talking about [patent trolls] are a classic example; they don’t actually produce anything themselves. They’re just trying to essentially leverage and hijack somebody else’s idea and see if they can extort some money out of them.”

Ye gods. At last some sense from the top! He went on to say that patent trolls (not the term he used!) represent one of the main things very wrong with the current American patent system. Then he commented on his administration’s attempts at patent reform:

“I do think that our efforts at patent reform only went about halfway to where we need to go, and what we need to do is pull together additional stakeholders and see if we can build some additional consensus on smarter patent laws.”

You can read a bit more on Obama’s comments here, or check this video out – from the 16th minute:


More: How to stop feeding these parasites?…

Yukatan: You can tan, while conferencing.

On the news of late I’ve been seeing an awful lot of reports about very woeful wintery weather all around the world. In Moscow they’ve had the heaviest snowfall in something like centuries, and Northeastern USA also got a fair overdose of the pretty white precipitation. I start thinking that it’s all just signals warning of impending doom caused by global warming. But then, who wouldn’t – bar ostriches – after all the freak snow and then looking at the results of ice drillings in Antarctica at the Vostock Station? :( But I digress…

So it seems that everyone from New York, to York, to Yakutsk is suffering big time with loads of weary winteriness. So that leaves me + cohorts + partners feeling… well, a little bit guilt-stricken, to say the least. Why? Because we’re all on the sun drenched, snow-free, profoundly picturesque Yucatán Peninsula.

KL N.American Partner Conference

More: Why conferencing in paradise?…

A Move in the Right Direction.

Barack Obama signs an executive act regulating cyber security

On Tuesday, President Obama issued a long awaited Executive Order on cyber security intended to expand and deliver more robust information sharing between government and the private sector.  The Executive Order also requires the development of a voluntary cyber framework and standards to improve protection of the U.S. critical infrastructure.  The Executive Order rightly focuses on a risk-based approach.  Resources are limited and prioritization to secure those areas most at risk is smart policy.  The sophistication of threats and targeted attacks on key economic sectors around the world stresses the urgency that action be taken to better secure critical infrastructure.  This effort by President Obama is a positive step to address a real gap in the protection of critical assets necessary to the well being of the United States.

The risk to critical infrastructures is real, and an international challenge that must be addressed by governments and the private sector together.  As we see more threats to the national and economic security of countries, action must be taken to better protect those critical national infrastructures.  Attacks like StuxnetFlameGauss and Shamoon are becoming commonplace and keep growing in sophistication.

I believe this executive order is a move in the right direction as it seeks to increase digital defenses of critical infrastructure, and tries to facilitate the exchange of threat information between the government and private sector.  Better cooperation between governments around the world and their private sectors to improve sharing of timely and relevant cyber threat information is essential. Likewise, operators of the critical infrastructures must work to implement flexible performance based standards to secure their assets.

We are at a critical juncture on cyber security protection, and leadership in the U.S. and around the world is essential.  We hope that other nations and unions will follow this example and take steps to better protect their national critical infrastructures.

We’re ready to support and assist in national and international cyber defense efforts with our research, technologies and people.

It’s Not All Just Antivirus, You Know. Introducing Kaspersky Security for Business.

It’s been little more than a year since the release of the previous version of our corporate product (Endpoint Security 8), but we’ve already rolled out a new (need I say it – much improved) one. Yesterday, as per tradition in New York, we had our global launch of Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business (KESB) – a nifty bit of software kit in which all sorts of new stuff comes together – from a flock of new functionality to a new name and a new product line.

This post gives you a peak at all these newbie bits and bobs featured in KESB. But first, as a bit of background to make all the new stuff a little easier to get your head round (I hope), let me give you a historic overview what’s gone on in the past and which has brought us to this year’s culmination: KESB.

More: In the beginning there was antivirus…

All Mouth, No Trouser.

“All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” Thus spake Napoleon, the head-hog in Orwell’s dystopian classic.

The genius of this phrase lies in its universality – a small addition turns the truth inside out. Alas, this witty paradox [sic.] is met not only in farmer-revolutionary sagas, but also in such (seemingly very distant) themes as – and you won’t believe this – antivirus tests! Thus, “All published AV-test results are equal, but some are more equal than others.” Indeed, after crafty marketing folk have applied their magic and “processed” the results of third-party comparative AV tests, the final product – test results as published by certain AV companies – can hardly be described as equal in value: they get distorted so much that nothing of true value can be learned from them.

Let’s take an imaginary antivirus company – one that hardly distinguishes itself from its competitors with outstanding technological prowess or quality of protection, but which has ambitions of global proportions and a super-duper sales plan to fulfill them. So, what’s it gonna first do to get nearer its plan for global domination? Improve its antivirus engine, expand its antivirus database, and/or turbo charge its quality and speed of detection? No, no, no. That takes faaaar too much time. And costs faaaar too much money. Well, that is – when you’re in the Premiership of antivirus (getting up to the First Division ain’t that hard). But the nearer the top you get in the Champions League in terms of protection, the more dough is needed to secure every extra hundredth of a real percent of detection, and the more brains it requires.

It’s much cheaper and quicker to take another route – not the technological one, but a marketing one. Thus, insufficient technological mastery and quality of antivirus detection often gets compensated by a cunning informational strategy.

But how?

Indirectly; that’s how…

Now, what’s the best way to evaluate the quality of the protection technologies of an antivirus product? Of course it’s through independent, objective opinion by third parties. Analysts, clients and partners give good input, but their impartiality naturally can’t be guaranteed. Comparative tests conducted by independent, specialized testing labs are where the real deal’s at. However, testers are peculiar beasts: they concentrate purely on their narrow trade – that’ll be testing – which is good, as testing done well – i.e., properly and accurately – is no easy task. But their results can often come across as… slightly dull, and could do with a bit of jazzing up. Which is where testing marketing done by those who order the testing kicks in: cunning manipulation of objective test results – to make the dirty-faced appear as angels, and/or the top-notchers appear as also-rans. It all becomes reminiscent of the ancient Eastern parable about the blind men and the elephant. Only in this case the marketing folk – with perfect eyesight – “perceive” the results deliberately biasedly. The blind men couldn’t help their misperceptions.

blind people and elephant

More: Nine tricks to put the wool over your eyes…