And now – gorillas!

Hi folks!

Back just before a busy business schedule in Rwanda the other week (more on that in a few days), we had a half-day spot of tourism scheduled. We’d heard great things about the Volcanoes National Park – those great things being gorillas! So we decided to get on over there for a look…

Gorillas! Large, muscular apes with black fur that inhabit the forests of central Sub-Saharan Africa. The males are huge, reaching body weights of up to 250kg, but they’re vegetarian, and also rather unaggressive beasts; that is – unless you provoke them, as our guides told us: 250kg of muscle and sharp fangs are not something you want to get angry. (Interestingly, on the Russian Wikipedia page for gorillas it states that ~ “if an enemy decides to bottle it and turn and run, the gorilla will catch him/her up and take a bite out of the back or bottom thereof. In some African tribes the most shameful of scars one can have are those from a gorilla: it means that the person ran from one; therefore he/she is a coward.”!

Our expert guides told us how wild-cat predators like leopards and also other powerful and fearsome thuggish beasts like buffalo tend to steer well clear of gorillas. Gorillas are just too strapping and brawny to mess with.

(Regarding their strength, I quote my travel companion, A.S., btw: “Woah! I just saw a young female who was slowly, calmly building up a nest (I think). She grabbed the branch of a tree some five centimeters thick and simply snapped it off without any effort at all! And that was a wee lassie”:)

Did you know that gorillas (and also chimpanzees and orangutans) are the closest species to Homo sapiens? We made a genetic split from them some seven million years ago. Apparently our DNA is just slightly different to theirs – by just two percent! That’s why they look so much like us the fitness trainers in our gym ).

Read on…

Introducing – the new us.

I’ve heard it said that “Life needs shaking up more often than not, so it doesn’t turn sour.”

Well, no chance we could ever let things go sour here at KL — not in the industry we’re in, which is constantly and rapidly changing. Still, sometimes it is useful to stop, take a look at yourself as if through someone else’s eyes, think about what’s around the corner, and make a few changes to the look and feel of the company accordingly. And so it is with this lyrical introduction that I want to formally announce our rebranding and explain why we’ve done it.

We were born in the 90s. Back when we founded the company in 1997, we had just one simple goal: to make the best antivirus in the world. There was no talk of positioning, image, or brand philosophy. But that was then; this is now. It’s been 22 years, and everything’s changed.

We now employ more than 4,000 people and protect hundreds of millions of individuals and businesses around the world. The very concept of antivirus, our original cornerstone, has become obsolete. The world has become so dependent on cyber-everything that no sphere of modern life has been left untouched by it. And we’re ready to protect all of it, from home users on the internet to large corporations, governments, industry, and infrastructure. One thing has remained the same, however, since the beginning: we produce the very best security solutions on the market.

With so much having changed, it was high time we thought about how we looked to folks on the outside — to see if that, too, might need some shaking up. After all, our logo was designed back in 1997, when the company was just taking its first steps. In that logo we used the Greek alphabet with lots of fine detail, but 22 years on, much of that has lost its relevance.

So, after lots of work behind the scenes, today we’re formally updating our logo! The new logo employs geometric, mathematically precise letter forms representing the values that define us: for example, the highest standards of engineering. Another noticeable innovation is that we’ve removed the word Lab. That change has been on the cards for years; we’re often referred to simply as My Surname around the world anyway — and always have been, for the sake of convenience, simplicity, brevity, or plain lack of need for the Lab. Well now we’re just Kaspersky officially too: shorter, simpler, clearer, more utilitarian, easier, more memorable (I could go on at length here).

But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll see we’re not just changing our logo. The whole company’s changing.

In recent years, our approach to business, to our products, and to ourselves — not to mention, our vision of the future — has changed. All these years we’ve been saving the world, fighting cyber-sin in its many incarnations, but, as I mentioned above, we’ve been changing too as we grew (I should have been a poet). Now, we feel know it’s within our power not only to save the world, but also to build a more protected, safer world from the ground up. I firmly believe that the concept of cybersecurity will soon become obsolete, and cyber-immunity will take its place.

Information systems should be designed and built secure; they should not require add-ons in the form of (never quite fully secure) security solutions. That is the future we’re working on: a real, tangible future in which life will be simpler, more convenient, and more interesting — not some flowery, imagined future straight out of science fiction. And this world is taking shape little by little, day by day. I’m sure that in this safer world we’re helping create, technologies will no longer be a source of constant threat, but instead provide tons of new possibilities, opportunities, and discoveries.

So there you have it, the new … K!?! (What? No more KL, as I like to abbreviate us to? Oh well, progress always requires some sacrifice!)

Flickr photostream

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Rwespect to Rwanda!

Hi folks!

Well, I’ve sorted my pics from my recent Africa trip, so it’s time for a brief intro-report on my impressions of the Republic of Rwanda!

For an African country it’s rather a tiny one, toward the mid-to-southeast of the continent. With a population of around 12 million, area-wise it’s a little smaller than Belgium, which by some strange coincidence Rwanda happens to have once been a colony of.

Now, to someone who knows little about Rwanda, that’s probably where the similarities with Belgium would end. But it’s not the case! In fact Rwanda fairly amazed me by how much it differs from other African countries I’ve been to. Sure, there’s the inevitable poverty, but the differences are many. I’ll start with climate…

Rwanda is around 150–300km south of the equator, so yes, there’s plenty of sunshine every day. However, it’s about 1500m above sea level, so the climate is most comfortable: Not too hot, and not too humid either like places near the equator but down by sea level.

Another largely atypical feature: how the countryside looks – green, rolling hills, beautiful (btw: in the northwest of the country there are volcanoes and jungles with gorillas, and in the southeast – savanna with all sorts of interesting African wildlife).

Here’s the view of the Rwandan capital, Kigali:

Read on…

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Istanbul’s new airport: humungous, ambitious – and delicious!

A new airport has opened in Istanbul! And about time too, for the former main airport had long since been overstretched but couldn’t be expanded because it’s in the city itself (it’s now used just for cargo, business and other unscheduled flights), while the national carrier has been impressively expanding its geographical spread of destinations around the globe. Woah: a quick glance at Wikipedia tells me that that geographical expansion is so impressive that it’s given Turkish Airlines the highest number of countries served by an airline – a whopping 121! The second highest is Air France, but way behind TK  with just 91. Turkish is also sixth in the rankings of most destinations (304 cities) served, with only international cargo and US airlines ahead of it (i.e., hardly the fairest of comparisons). It’s also tenth in the world on fleet size – again behind US/Chinese/postal behemoths (and Ryanair:). But I digress…

So it was logically decided some years ago that Istanbul needed a new, bigger airport hub – a grandiose one; therefore one was built on a greenfield site outside the city. It’s size is 6 x 4.5km; it has four (!) runways each four kilometers long; and a gigantic terminal some 800×400 meters (that’s the main building, not including all walkways to the gates). In a word three words: oh my ginormous!

Here’s the view from up top:

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German triangle.

The other week I pulled a three-day Russia-Germany triangle: Moscow – Munich – Berlin – Moscow. Though it wasn’t such a long-sided triangle, it all the same was a toughie, as so much was packed into my itinerary. However, I didn’t even manage to get myself to Munich itself, only having got as far as its airport. But then, Munich Airport has its own… brewery, so I wasn’t complaining ).

The brewery is right in the middle of one of the airport’s restaurants too – so that’s two unusuals already; I wondered if the beer was going to be unusual too…

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Libertas in monte.

Strolling around the City of San Marino, with its unassailable towers and fortress walls at the very top of a mountain, I figured it must have been a refuge against the medieval bandits, robbers and pillagers that once roamed Europe. However, it turns out that’s not the case.

According to legend, the beginnings of the first settlement here were established by a Christian stonemason in the 4th century A.D. during the period of persecution of Christians. He set up a humble home, started extracting stone, others joined him, a monastery appeared, and on and on it grew organically. Now, for around 1700 years there’s existed here this micro-state up a mountain. Down the centuries many tried to invade it, but no one ever succeeded. The details are rather interesting. Anyway, it’s physical impermeability to a large extent is the reason why it’s stayed independent. The country naturally cherishes this independence: you can tell by the way both its flag and emblem have the Latin ‘LIBERTAS’ (liberty) written large thereupon.

The first, oldest, tower at first was… a prison (keeping bad folks in as well as out!):

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Hey startups, want to become a global company?

About five years ago we launched an interesting project – our own Business Incubator . Why? Because there are a lot of great ideas out in the wild that need nurturing to grow and develop into something great. And we have the resources to help them do this! So we’ve been scouting for cool innovative ideas and giving startups ‘wings’ to fly.

One of the most successful examples of projects from our Business Incubator is Polys, launched in 2017. It’s an online platform for electronic voting based on blockchain. I’ve already mentioned it in this blog. But briefly: it’s safe, anonymous, unhackable, and what I think is more important – very easy to use and suitable for any kind of voting. I personally believe that the future of voting is indeed online and blockchain. Polys has already been officially used by Russian political parties, student bodies, and regional government organizations. And I’m sure that these are just the first steps of this KL nestling.

We’ve another up-and-coming Incubator project on board – Verisium. This is an IoT platform for customer engagement and product authentication. Especially needed in the fashion industry, it helps fight the counterfeiting of luxury products, and gives brands the ability to track product lifecycles and gain marketing insights into how products ‘live’ and perform. Verisium has already launched a number of joint projects with Russian designer brands – involving clothes with NFC chips on blockchain.

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However, though it’s doing really well, the Incubator wasn’t enough for us. So we decided to scale-up the way we work with startups and innovative companies, while focusing on something we know rather well… cybersecurity!

At the end of May (so, in a matter of days) we’re launching a new program that will run globally – the Kaspersky Open Innovations Program. We’re doing it to build an ecosystem that allows for transparent conversation and fruitful collaboration between businesses and innovative cybersecurity companies around the globe.

To start-off, we’re launching a global startup challenge. We’ll be looking for startups that already have products, or MVPs, or even prototypes; we’ll be looking for those who already have something to sell, or already have had some sales and now need more. Since we’ll be neither investing in these companies, nor acquiring them, we’ll keep the focus on finding solutions that can truly benefit from being embedded with our technologies or integrated with them to maximize protection capabilities.

Another goal will be to take the results of our collaboration with startups – and their many new innovative products, solutions, services, etc. – to companies of different sizes around the world.

So, if we’re not investing and not acquiring, what are we actually offering? As a global company, we’ll help startups scale up globally by supporting their further product and business development. But probably most importantly, we’ll be providing an opportunity for startups to build a partnership with us and a chance to sit at the same table with the big guys and global companies.

Join now and take your business worldwide!

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San Marino – Europe’s third-smallest country, don’t you know.

Ciao folks!

Herewith, a tiny post on a tiny addition to my not-tiny list of been-to’s in the world.

As time goes by, my getting a +1 to my countries-visited list seems to become less and less frequent. Maybe that’s because I’ve been to that many – more than 90. Yes, perhaps. But with 206 countries currently in the world, it really shouldn’t mean I’ve much excuse to start slowing down with my new-adds, surely. There’s still plenty of countries to go.

For example, even in nearby (i.e., easily-accessible) Europe, I’ve a full six states left to go: San Marino, Slovenia, Montenegro, Albania, Bulgaria, Belarus and Moldova.

//… Six, that is, according to one definition of which countries are part of Europe. What about, for example, the countries of the Caucuses region? Are they in Europe or in Asia (or both?). If they are, then I need to add Georgia to my list of European yet-to-checks. I’ve been on its territory, but that wasn’t quite Georgia: it was the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic (Batumi, 1981).

And I’m sure there will be other question marks within my list: some countries aren’t recognized by certain states. But I don’t want to get into that can of worms.

Aaaanyway. Back to my +1. It was the tiny teeniest of countries – one perhaps whose sovereign status you might not even have been aware of (as many Europeans aren’t:). So – drum roll – it was….. ah, you already know: it’s in the title to this post!. So much for the added drum-drama ).

San Marino is a microstate set in the Apennine mountains, surrounded completely by Italy. In a few words: unique, unusual, unusually awesome, unusually old, and unusually wealthy. Unusually beautiful too…

And that’s all I’ll say about San Marino. This is one of those posts… for the Instagram generation, perhaps: Less words – more pics!

Read on..

Formula Paris-E.

Bonjour folks!

Today’s post is all about Formula E. Just in case that term is a new one to you – the ‘E’ stands for ‘Electric’. And the ‘Formula’ – yep, that’s like just like with ‘Formula 1’. Combined – you’ve guessed it: F1 but with electric cars!

It was only a matter of time since the electric car came into fairly widespread use that they’d start being raced a la Formula 1. And indeed, already for four and a half years they have been racing – around large cities across the globe, garnering more and more attention as time passes. And finally, the other week, I found myself at my first ePrix – in Paris!

And we weren’t just spectating, we take part too; first, with our expertise: we protect the cyber-infrastructure of the Envision Virgin team.

Second: with our sponsorship: check out the panels each side of the driver’s head!

Read on…