The UK’s PR Disaster: Heathrow.

In Geneva we’d been told all sorts of horror stories about London’s Heathrow Airport recently having been turned into a nightmare of delays, huge lines and other horridness you’d normally expect from some backward banana republic, not the UK. Strange, I thought – just last week I was in England and all was OK at its main airport. Now? There’s just one word to describe it: chaos. Lines for both security and passport control were two hours long, and we hear they can get even longer. It’s so bad it resembles the hellhole that is New York’s JFK, or Moscow’s Sheremetevo about ten years back.

We were lucky – we weren’t heading for the UK. We were just connecting there. Thank goodness. Otherwise we’d have had to have joined in the fun. So here’s a warning to anyone going to the UK soon: be prepared. Make sure you’ve plenty to read, listen to, and/or watch on-the-go! I can’t imagine what’s going to happen here later this year when the Olympics start… I think getting to France first might be the best option – and coming through the Channel Tunnel!

More: It’s always sunny in… Geneva

Twice Around the World in 50 Days.

Bonjour, mes amis!

Over the next two months (a dozen days under, to be more precise), I’ll be on a non-stop ultramarathon-esque “avia-run” that’ll take me twice around the planet. In all it’ll take in around ten countries in four continents. Looking at our flight/event schedule, even I – the experienced on-the-roader that I am – got a bit overwhelmed/fearful for a few brief moments; but this quickly transformed into excitement (I’m like that) about this monster tour. I’ll be in every continent besides Africa, South America and Antarctica (the latter – the biggest shame to miss out; oh how I want to get back there!).

My route is as follows: Russia – Switzerland – Bahamas – Australia – Italy – Israel – UK – USA – China – Germany – Belgium – Russia. The airlines are already rubbing their hands with glee :) And I’m edging closer to my millionth air mile with Sky Team. I need to get there soon though, as T.T. is threatening starting using a private jet for these extended jaunts – and those miles of course wouldn’t go towards my million with the Sky Team :)

The KL guys and/or gals I go with on these lengthy forays understandably have a tough time keeping up with such intensity and tempo, so somewhere along the way I usually switch them round – kind of a support-rotation – so that it’s not too overwhelming and exhausting for them (T.T., peering over my shoulder while I’m writing this, interjects here: “and we need them alert, or not at all!!”).

The first time round the globe I’ll be doing with K.A. (who’s that? It’ll come to light soon). This is her first go at a month of constantly changing time zones, climates, airlines, hotels, and food and drink, plus impression overload. She’ll be fine. She’s a real trooper.

Right now we’re in Geneva – the our first stop on our trip. Here’s the view from the office where we had a very important meeting with some very important folks:

Geneva

More: The nice people around…

Beer and Broadcasts in Brussels.

Dag everyone!

In-between London and Moscow last week we managed to fit in a flying visit to Brussels, which didn’t even last a day, just 20 hours. Naturally, the first thing we did was make a beeline for the nearest bar for some Belgian beer. Oh yes – real nice. I believe Belgian beer to be one of the best in the world.

Belgian BeerI’ve a real talent for photography. Beers, bulldog, and… JUICE?

Belgium is of course also famous for its chocolate, a peeing boy, and the Atomium, among other things. But on this trip all that was passed by; my schedule, as per tradition, was crammed full. Its highlight took place inside the European Commission building, where I secured myself a +1 to my list of live broadcasts I’ve been on on international TV channels. The new addition – on Euronews – now complements BBC World News, CNN, Bloomberg, Sky News, Russia Today, and a number of others.

More: Euronews Live and sudden auto-pilot jam…

Infosec: Interestingsec.

Infosecurity Europe, to give it its full title, is the largest European exhibition for the IT security industry. The yearly event is referred to by just about everyone as “Infosec”.

Infosecurity Europe

This isn’t just any old IT security exhibition, of which there are now quite a few. It’s really quite a unique one since despite the worldwide tendency for such events to be as dull as dishwater (one example of which is CeBIT). Infosec is actually very interesting and a lot of fun.

More: Fun stuff serious people play…

In Updates We Trust.

Remember my recent post on Application Control?

Well, after its publication I was flooded with all sorts of e-mails with comments thereon. Of particular interest were several cynical messages claiming something like, “The application control idea is sooo simple, there’s no need for any highfalutin special “Application Control” feature. It can be dealt with on-the-fly as applications are installed and updated.”

Yeah, right. The devil’s always in the details, my cynical friends! Try it on the fly – and you’ll only fail. To get application control done properly – with by far the best results – you need three things besides that “it’s easy” attitude: lots of time, lots of resources, and lots of work going into implementation of a practical solution. Let me show you why they’re needed…

On the surface, it’s true, it could seem Application Control was a cakewalk to develop. We create a domain, populate it with users, establish a policy of limited access to programs, create an MD5 database of trusted/forbidden applications, and that appears to be it. But “appears” here is exactly the right word: the first time some software updates itself (and ooohhh how software today loves to update itself often – you noticed?) the sysadmin has to write the database all over again! And only when that’s completed will the updated programs work. Can you imagine the number of angry calls and e-mails in the meantime? The number of irate bosses? And so it would continue, with every update into the future…

To the rescue here comes running a mostly unnoticeable but mega-useful feature of our Application Control – the Trusted Updater. It not only (1) automatically updates installed programs while simultaneously bringing the database of trusted software up to date, it also (2) keeps track of inheritances of “powers of attorney” attracted to the updating process. The former is fairly straightforward and clear, I think. The second… let me explain it a bit.

Let’s take an example. While performing an update, some software launches, let’s say, a browser (for example in order to show the user’s agreement), and transfers to it its access rights. But what happens when the update is completed? Are you twigging what I’m getting at here?… Yes – in some products the browser keeps the inherited rights until it’s restarted! So until then it could perform an action that is actually forbidden according to the security policy – for example, to download something from the Internet, and, more importantly – to run it. What’s more, the browser gets the ability to call on other programs and give them the enhanced rights of the updater. Oht-Oh!

Turns out a single update could bring down the whole security system through incorrect access rights’ management during the update process. Scariest of all is that this isn’t a bug, it’s a feature!

Anyway, back to our Trusted Updater. What it does is take full control over the update: as soon as the process has finished, it restores the rights back to what they were before the update – for the whole chain of affected programs. Another handy trick is its knowing beforehand which updaters can be trusted – there’s a special category for them in our Whitelist database. And should a sysadmin want to, he or she can add other updaters to this category with minimal effort but with a good addition to the level of the network’s overall protection from all sorts of sly backdoors.

Application Control

More: The four scenarios of implementing for controlling software updates…

Shanghai – Slow Trains, Fast Cars.

Ni hao, all!

Shanghai – what a place. It’s really quite something. I mean in terms of its size (massive), the quantity of skyscrapers (plenty), the size of two of its airports (huge), and the number of stack interchanges and double-decker highways that crisscross the city (it contains probably several hundred miles of eight-lane roads – incredible). Blade Runner-esque Tokyo – move over! But I’m never lucky with the weather when I visit. This time Shanghai was once again covered with a haze so thick I could only see a few miles into the distance.

Tokyo

More: Maglev experience and F1 Shanghai-style

Cherry Blossoms – ver. 2012

Hi everyone!

Time for some catch-up. Been getting behind on my blogging duties. And that’s down to my suffering a bit of late due to an overloaded schedule. Four cities in a week (not including Moscow) – it’s become quite tough. Before I could manage – no worries. What’s with me? Just need some rest and relaxation, I guess.

Anyway – enough moaning, and back to it! Oki-doki…

And so, there we are again – in Tokyo! Japan – a unique country that can be compared with no other; and Tokyo, its capital – a crazy, magical metropolis that just blows the mind. It’s a place you really need to see in the flesh – photos only go so far in giving you an adequate impression. Therefore, to anyone who still hasn’t had the chance of visiting Japan – get there as soon as the opportunity arises! I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Japan

More: Cherry blossoms, business, and Blade Runner …

Apple – Listen to Us, Before It’s Too Late!

Which is better – Mac or PC?

By now the eternal debate will have come on to the radars of even the most non-geeky types, and those who still don’t have a position on it – normally a passionate and unwavering one – are fast becoming extinct. Last week of course the ongoing debate was seriously influenced by news of the Flashfake botnet for Mac OS X. It seems that cybercriminals are now joining the large numbers of users migrating from PC to Mac…

More: Why/what/who/how? Read on…

Oman? – Yeh’ Man! Or – From Moscow Snow to the Arabian Heat.

Salam alaykom, everyone!

Next up on my spring globetrotting tour with T.T. – Muscat, the capital of Oman, for the Cyber Defense Summit. Here under the chandeliers were gathered together ministers and other government representatives, bosses of top corporations, the FBI and other legal enforcement bodies, and so on. The event was a closed one – as in, not open to the press. Ooh – secrecy! All the same I managed to fit in eight interviews.

Cyber Defense SummitA ceiling to be admired – just ask the gent in the orange head dress

More: Now for a few facts about the Sultanate of Oman