Getting a feel – of all things Kuril, 2019.

Hi folks!

Been a while, I know. What can I say? Actually – three words: July and August :).

I’m literally just back from yet another oh-my-gripping summer expedition – this time around the Kuril Islands (the string of islands above Japan at the far-eastern end of Russia, just in case geography ain’t your strong point). Actually, I could say I’m just back from two trips along the full length of the Kurils (I’ll explain quite why later on): from Kamchatka at the northern end; right down to the southern end; over to Sakhalin; back over to the southern-most Kuril island of Kunashir; and back up to practically the northern-most Kuril island of Atlasov right next to Kamchatka again; plus – bonus track – a quick trip to the Commander Islands to the east of Kamchatka (not far Alaskan islands).

In all, around a dozen islands were visited (some of them – twice), walked upon, and snapped aplenty with my trusty Sony. Approximately seven volcanoes were observed up close (again – some twice), but alas Tyatya we didn’t manage to inspect due to poor weather. In all, the intensity of the impressions: off the scale. Back here in Moscow, I’m still swaying on my feet occasionally, for we were a full month living on a small ship out at sea – and that includes every night bar a few (in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and on Kunashir and Onekotan). The number of photos and videos shot from the ground and up in the air (using drones) – oh my: countless. Accordingly, I’ll be uploading portions thereof gradually as I get through them, accompanied by my traditional tales from the road ship, volcano, and other wild places of interest less-visited…

For now, as a taster-teaser – a few highlights:

Read on…

Starmus 2019 – from Apollo to Virgo, Buzz Aldrin to Brian May, and exoplanets to extremely large telescopes.

Guten tag folks!

As promised earlier, herewith, a bit lot more detail on some of the presentations at this year’s Starmus in Zurich. The main theme here: the first moon landing.

Quick (relevant) digression: it was our traditional all-day-and-night birthday bash the other week, and since it’s just a few days since the 50th anniversary of the Neil Armstrong’s giant leap for mankind, we thought we’d add a sprinkling of cosmonautical space dust to the proceedings: we invited along two very experienced and very highly-respected astronauts: Oleg Kotov and Sergey Krikalyov. (And let me tell you that both of them have no doubts whatsoever that the Americans really did land on the moon!)

But back to the Starmus highlights. Let me go through some of the best few presentations:

Gerry Griffin was one of the managing directors of the Apollo Program. He was one of the heroes who managed to get the stricken Apollo 13 back to earth safely. A very interesting story – dramatized many times, most notably in the 1995 movie Apollo 13 starring Tom Hanks.

Read on…

Flickr photostream

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Starmus 2019 – stars of the stars.

So, what else did we get up to in Zurich, besides beer-and-bathe by/in the river? We got ourselves to perhaps my fave annual festival – STARMUS, which – oh my galaxy! – is already in its fifth year! Space, universes, stars, black holes; man’s space projects; plus assorted other jaw-dropping reports on scientific research from all over the planet and beyond; plus a traditional mega-music concert of impressive caliber (alas, which we traditionally miss).

Check out some of the speakers at this year’s event:

Read on…

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We SOCked it 2 ’em – and passed the SOC 2 audit!

Last year I told you how, as part of our Global Transparency Initiative, we had plans to undergo an independent audit to receive SOC 2 certification. Well, finally, we can announce that we did undergo this third party audit… and passed! Hurray! And it wasn’t easy: it took a lot of work by a great many of our K-folks. But now that’s all behind us, and I’m very proud that we’ve done it!

So what does this mysterious SOC abbreviation stand for, and (whatever it may be) why is it needed?

Ok. The abbreviation stands for Service Organization Controls, and SOC 2 is a report based on the ‘Trust Services principles and criteria’ of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) [CPA: Certified Public Accountants], which evaluates an organization’s information systems relevant to security, availability, processing integrity, and confidentiality/privacy. Put another way, this is a (worldwide recognized) standard for audits of information risk control systems. Its main aim is to provide information on how effective a company’s control mechanisms are (so other companies can assess any risks associated with working therewith).

We decided to seek SOC 2 to be able to confirm the reliability of our products and prove to our customers and partners that our internal processes correspond to the highest of international standards and that we’ve nothing to hide. The audit for us was conducted by one of the Big Four accounting firms (I can’t tell you which as per the respective contract’s terms and conditions, in case you were wondering). Over the past year different K-departments have been working closely with the auditors sharing with them all the information they’ve needed, and that includes R&D, IT, Information Security, and our internal audit team.

The final report, which we received this week, confirms the soundness of the internal control mechanisms used for our automatic AV database updates, and also that the process of developing and launching our antivirus databases is protected against unauthorized access. Hurray!

And if you’re a customer, partner or state regulator, please get in touch if you’d like to see a copy of the report.

That’s all for today folks, but I’ll be back tomorrow with a quick rewind back to STARMUS and some more detail of the presentations thereat.

Meanwhile, privyet, from…

Birthday number 22.

This year we celebrated the company’s 22nd birthday a little earlier than usual (but closer to the official birthday – see here for a brief history lesson). It was earlier because the road beckoned me once again to a very interesting place. But more on that later.

Here and just about everywhere further down, the photos are courtesy of Roman Rudakov.

We worked well over the year (for example, we earned $726 million (+4% on 2017), were number 1 in tests for protection and speed, were twice named as the best cybersecurity solution by Gartner Peer Insights) -> so we pushed the boat out for our birthday, because, well, those who are good at their work are good at everything else they do too :)

Read on…

The Jewel in the crown: Singapore never ceases to amaze.

How I long to be in the paradise that is Singapore as a simple tourist, just for a week! To walk around the city, take in the sights, visit the zoo. Actually, the tourist and entertainment industry in this small city state is developing so much that a week might not be enough. Ah, this is the place!

I left a sweltering Switzerland in a hurry, heading in a south-easterly direction, while not forgetting to take pictures of the surrounding landscapes ->

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Me, myself and INTERPOL.

How I would love to just visit Singapore as a tourist! To stay here for a week, wander around the city … But not running, running, gunzo-shigoto-arbeiten, meetings-presentations-more meetings and other work-trabajo-labor and so on in various other languages. Alas, not this time. It was more like this…

You wake up in the morning after the Starmus conference and realize that you can only dream of a bit of peace and quiet. From a sweltering Switzerland we immediately head (you could say without regaining consciousness) east for an equally hot Singapore. That’s where the INTERPOL World 2019 exhibition/conference is being held. It’s an event that brings together representatives of state, non-government and private sectors from INTERPOL member countries.

I talk a lot about the importance of international cooperation between law enforcement agencies and private cybersecurity organizations. Cybercrime knows no geographical boundaries, which is why it’s necessary to act together to fight it. It’s just that there’s a bit of a worldwide problem nowadays with this “together” thing. So, any real, ongoing initiatives aimed at international cooperation are worth their weight in gold! And we’re proud of our many years of work with INTERPOL. Since 2014, we’ve been a strategic partner, signed our first cooperation agreement and supported the opening in Singapore of the Digital Crime Center as part of the special IGCI (INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation) unit dealing with cybercrime investigations. This center is where the technical side of INTERPOL’s investigations are conducted.

And, so, on July 3 in Singapore, we extended the cooperation agreement with INTERPOL for five years. Good work chaps!

Read on…

Mon dieu – Fontainebleau!

Bonjour boys and girls!

You may recall how I flew from the Azores to Paris en route to Zurich the other day. The reason was a spot of business – speaking at the INSEAD business school. There’s not really much to tell about that, apart from the fact that it – plus the Q&A afterward – went well. What I do want to tell you about is the half-day of tourism we got in at the place where INSEAD is situated – the commune of Fontainebleau:

Read on…

Falling in love with Azorean waterfalls.

It’s usually the case that if an area is volcanic, wet and not too cold, then there are going to be lots of waterfalls. Take, for instance, Iceland, Hawaii, Kamchatka, the Faroe Islands – and other places that have temporarily slipped my mind.

And the Azores are no exception. On the island we’re exploring – San Miguel – there are several waterfalls worth seeing; we had time to see two of them.

I. Salto do Cabrito – a picturesque double waterfall. On the internet, the water looks crystal clear, but we got there just after it rained, and the water was anything but clear. We decided to skip having a swim and just enjoyed the view :)

You can drive almost right up to this waterfall, and can go down a cool little path, alongside the pipe to the local mini-hydroelectric station. I recommend approaching it from above.

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Aquatic tour of the Azores.

And now for another installment about the Azores.

But this time with a difference: what NOT to do in the Azores.

It’s probably not worth going to watch the whales in June, despite the fact that it’s advertised as a ‘must’ for tourists. We fell for it a little … And we only saw one part of one whale – namely, the dorsal fin of a sei whale. After two hours of chasing, that was it as far as Azorean whales were concerned. If it’s whales you’re after, check out my Antarctic stories.

But there were some revelations! I saw my first Portuguese man o’ war! This is a very poisonous jelly-like thing with a bubble on the surface of the water, which is not that deadly for humans, but leaves nasty burns on the skin (look for pictures of victims yourself – it makes me feel a bit squeamish even describing it).

Note, this is not a jellyfish! It’s a colony of different organisms in a symbiotic relationship that’s designed to cause pain and death to anything in its vicinity. Read the wiki page at the link above, it’s amazing. It’s worth it just for bizarre phrases like gonophores, vestigial siphosomal nectophores and gastrozooids with tentacles!

Anyway, here’s a Portuguese man o’ war for you, swimming next to our boat:

But no whales, killer whales, dolphins, or penguins. Even the flying fish seemed to have flown south. I had to take photos of homo sapiens instead. There were plenty of them ->

Read on…