Tag Archives: KL history

Adventure tales of the unexpected – pt. 5: filling Beijing’s Bird-Nest Stadium + Akrotiri Excavations.

Hi folks!

Onward – with more of my extraordinary terrestrial greatest hits…

Bizarre tale of the unique/unusual kind No. 8

Here’s an extraordinary, extraordinarily-large tale from way back in 2009…

The previously-mentioned Harry Cheung (formerly the director of our Chinese office) just so happened to be friends with none other than Jackie Chan! And together the two of them pooled their power-clout and managed to convince the Beijing authorities to sanction a huge pop concert in the Chinese capital’s main stadium – yes: the (Olympic) Bird’s Nest! The undertaking turned out to cost an arm-and-a-leg, but still we managed to recoup costs from ticket sales (the surplus went to charity) – after all, Jackie himself was to appear (and sing – and not a bad singing voice he has either!), as did other top pop artists from both China and Korea. The event turned out to be massive. Chinese style…

Here’s the scene just before the start, with the stands still-only half-full ->

Btw – this truly was “our” event – organized by us, sponsored by us. Look – only our banners are to be seen around the stands (in both English and Chinese) ->

Read on:…

2 birthdays in 1 – our 25th and 26th. How did we mark the occasion? Like THIS! ->

Our b-day celebrations are back. Period! But this year’s was extra special: we had a double-whammy, for we marked two of our anniversaries: our 25th and 26th birthdays rolled into one! But wait – there’s more: it was attended by a full 3100+ guests. Oh my grandiose!

But first – rewind, selecta

Some 26 years ago – on June 26, 1997, to be precise – a small but very ambitious and restless company first saw the light of day. And as luck would have it, the company was named after moi (I objected to this, albeit halfheartedly:). We were the epitome of a tiny startup: no money, no venture capital, no financial support at all in fact. But what can I say? It just grew and grew and grew – eventually becoming the multinational corporation you know today!

I won’t go over the story of how we registered the Kompany, since I’ve already done so – here. (And for more AV-adventures from yesteryear – go here.)

Here, I’ll simply go over the main things: the format, and a review of this year’s bash…

Our b-day celebrations are always all-dayers (and nighters!); they’re always next to a large body of water; there are always more attractions/rides to go on and sporty/fun activities to get stuck into than you can possibly imagine; there are always the tastiest eats and drinkies; there’s always a slew of bands (and other shows) made up of our own who take to the main stage; there’s always much dancing; and there’s always a headliner – or two – as the icing on the cake. But there’s a lot more to it than that quick summary, but we’ll get to that… In a nutshell: it was a proper, full-fledged high-adrenaline blowout!…

Read on…

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11.11: Twenty years to the day!

Greetings boys and girls!

Suddenly – we’ve another jubillee. Hurray!…

Our cyber-immune operating system – KasperskyOS – is today… wait. No, that’s not quite correct…

Exactly 20 years ago – on November 11, 2002 – we began a long, hugely significant journey; a journey we’re in fact still on. A large, grandiose project that will change (and is already changing!) so much in the global cybersecurity domain. And that’s not hyperbole folks – it’s for real. And to get the full (hi)story of our cyber-immune OS, we need to go back to its humble beginnings in the early 2000s…

But before I go back 20 years, let me say a few words about today – November 11, 2022. Everyone today (besides the cave-dweller) understands perfectly well the critical importance of cybersecurity. Trillions of dollars are spent today on treating the symptoms of cyber-disease, but hardly any on dealing with its root causes. And the only way to break the cycle of constant Band-Aiding those symptoms is an overhaul of the architecture of computer systems, no less. Agree? Yes? Good, and thank you!…

The first time I’d gotten an inkling about this was even earlier than 20 years ago – in the fall of… 1989! For it was then when my PC became infected with the Cascade virus, which got me all curious and prompted me to start developing protection against it and all other cyber-contagion.

Thus, curiosity killed the cat was the start of everything for us. It was why our –V anti-virus first appeared, later why Kaspersky Lab was founded, and later still why we expanded right around the globe.

Fast-forward a full 12 years after Cascade, and my understanding of the imperfection of existing operating systems and the urgent need to do something about it finally, let’s say, crystalized, and came to the surface on a practical level (apologies for this perhaps seemingly over-detailed history tree, but it is, after all, our heritage:)…

Read on…

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Ten years blogging in – English to the day (almost)!

I love numbers (it must be the mathematician in me). Any kind of numbers really, but those that you have to really rack your brains over – they’re the best. Numbers that are particularly round and milestoney – they’re awesome too. And talking of round numbers that are milestoney and awesome, it just so happens that 10 years ago, on November 27, 2010, my first ever blogpost on this here blog you have open in your browser now was published!

Accordingly, on this veritable jubilee, I don’t see why we can’t have a mosey back through those 10 years for some highlights, aka greatest hits, of each one of them, with brief analysis and commentary given the benefit of hindsight regarding how things have worked out for the company, the industry and the world since the posts were originally published.

So what makes a ‘greatest hit’? Simple: the most read and commented on. So we had a quick look over the stats – at both the total number of views and of comments added to the bottom of each – and chose the top-two posts of each year. All righty. Let’s do this!…

2010

As it took a while to get momentum going early on, there were just two posts on this blog in 2010, both of which I’ll mention here.

My first ever blogpost in English was this: 100 in a Year! One of my briefest ever, too. Besides the following avia-route given in it, there was just a bit more text and that was it! Still, the first step is always the hardest, as they say.

Moscow – Novosibirsk – Moscow – Rome – Paris – Santiago – Patriot Hills – the South Pole (New Year) – Patriot Hills – Santiago – Paris – Moscow – Beijing – Singapore – Paris – Rio de Janiero – Lima – Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) – Madrid – Barcelona – Geneva – Paris – Milan – Rome – Munich – Hannover – Hamburg – Berlin – London – Hong Kong – Tokyo – Moscow – Paris – São Paulo – Iguazu Falls (Argentina-Brazil border) – Buenos Aires – Lima – Bogota – Paris – London – Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh City – Frankfurt – Barcelona – Athens – Corfu – Dubai – Sydney – Brisbane – Cairns – Ayers Rock – Sydney – Dubai – Larnaca (Cyprus) – Tokyo – Paris – Moscow – Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky – Moscow – Beijing – Milan – Moscow – Munich – Singapore – Hong Kong – Istanbul – Nice – Moscow – Paris – Mexico City – Guadalajara – Shanghai – Guangzhou – Tokyo – New York – Chicago – Dallas – Boston – Munich – Moscow – Abu Dhabi – Bali – Moscow

The other post from 2010 was: Mobile OS Market – My Bet.

This is where I stated my predications of the share of the global mobile OS market in the future – in around five years time (2015). And I didn’t do too badly either! My rough forecast went like this:

80% – Android
10% – iOS
10% – all the others

And here’s how things panned out:

Source

Yes, I should maybe think of becoming a fortune-teller ).

Read on…

Cyber-yesteryear, pt. 8: 1998-2000 (three firsts: restructuring, overseas office, partner conference).

The first few years after the founding of the company were the toughest of all because we really had to put the hours in, aka, bust our asses. It was like we were compressing a spring for it only later to be released to take the company up high and far beyond the horizon and in the right direction of pipe dreams (be careful what you have pipe dreams of:). After the formal registration of KL in 1997, with very little we did an awful lot. We had no money and hardly any resources, but the cybersecurity conveyor waits for no one: new technologies were needed, and the market demanded new products. So we toiled and slogged, working most weekends, and with hardly ever a vacation. So what were we working on? Here’s an example…

June 1998: the global Chernobyl (CIH) virus epidemic. All the other AV companies either didn’t notice it or didn’t bother with it, or were on vacation; we were almost the only one with a product that not only caught, but also cured systems infected with this pathogen. The www (i.e., already not just Runet:) was dotted with links to our site. That’s how we were rewarded for our super-speedy reactions to new threats – that and our ability to launch quick updates with procedures for treatment of specific threats. While this specific virus-threat incredibly craftily installed itself into Windows memory, hooked file-access calls, and infected executable files – all of which required a custom-designed dissection process that would have been impossible to deliver without flexible functionality of updates.

So – tough: yes; but we were getting results and growing. And then, two months later, we received a helping hand (of fate?!) of the most unexpected kind…

August 1998: the Russian financial crisis, featuring devaluation of the ruble, plus Russia defaulting on its debt. It was bad for most Russians on the whole, but we were reeeaaal lucky: all our foreign partners paid us in advance in foreign currency. We were an exporter. Our operating/working currency – a heavily devalued ruble; our income – dollars, pounds sterling, yen, etc. We were in the money!

But we didn’t rest on our ‘lucky’ laurels amid the financial crisis. We used the period also to take on new, professional – expensive! – managers. Soon we had commercial, technical and finance directors. And a little later we started to take on mid-level managers too. This was our first ever ‘restructuring‘ – when the ‘team’ became a ‘company’; when friendly, organic relations were replaced by a more formal organizational structure, subordination and accountability. The restructuring could have been painful; thankfully it wasn’t: we just got on with it without too much nostalgia for the old family-like times.

// For all about this kind of reorganization-restructuring-‘reengineering’ – I highly recommend the book Reengineering the Corporation by Michael Hammer and James Champy. It’s a real good one. Other useful books – here.

In 1999 we opened our first foreign office – in Cambridge in the UK. But, like, what with the British market being perhaps one of the toughest to crack for foreigners, why there? Actually, it was kinda just by chance (I’ll tell you how below). Still, we had to start somewhere, and anyway, our first experiences – including many mistakes and lessons learned – in the UK helped in making development of the business in other countries run a lot smoother…

Our first ever press tour took place in London, as we were in the British capital anyway for an IT security conference (InfoSecurity Europe). On that press tour we proudly announced our intention of opening an office in the UK. But the journalists would simply ask why, given that there were already Sophos, Symantec, McAfee and so on already comfortably established in the country. So we switched to geek mode: we told them all about how our company was a truly innovative one, and all about our unique technologies and products and how – because of them – we’re better than all the competition they’d just mentioned. All this was noted with much surprised interest (and another bonus: ever since then really silly questions have never been asked of us!). Meanwhile, at InfoSecurity Europe I gave my first ever speech to an English-speaking audience made up of… two journalists, who turned out to be from our friends at Virus Bulletin who already knew plenty about us! Still, that was the first – and last – time any of our presentations weren’t full-house (btw: details – here).

As regards our first ever partner conference, here’s how that came about..

Some time in the winter of 1998-1999 we were invited to the partner conference of our OEM partner F-Secure (Data Fellows). And that’s how we learned about the whole partner-conference format and what a great idea it is: to gather everyone together, share all the latest information about technologies and products, to hear out partners’ concerns and problems, and to discuss new ideas. Not ones to hang about – within a year (in 1999) we put on our own partner conference, inviting ~15 partners from Europe, the U.S. and Mexico to Moscow. Here we all are, on Revolution Square next to Red Square and the Kremlin:

Read on…

Cyber-yesteryear – pt. 7: 1997 (Me Lab founded).

Back with more K cyber-nostalgia – this post takes us back to a very special year for the company – the year of its founding! And as you can see from the date on our company registration certificate – that founding took place on June 26, 1997:

And that’s why we have our yearly mega-birthday-bash every June July (don’t ask; what’s a month among friends?!) – only not this year: the first time we’ve ever not had one. Shame. But what can you do?

I remember our first birthday party the following year in 1998, in a fairly rough bowling alley. Not too impressed with such a setting, we made amends the following year – already branching out into the countryside surrounding Moscow, where it’s been every year since, and where I really hope it will be again next year.

Here’s another curious K-tale from the summer of 1997…

Read on…

Cyber-yesteryear – pt. 6: talking to the media.

Last week I realized I’d been in lockdown-isolation-quarantine for a full quarter-year. Three months sat at home, with only a couple of brief trips to the deserted office, plus every weekend at the dacha with the similarly isolated family. Like for everyone – a very extraordinary daily existence. For me – no planes/airports, no hotels, no meetings or speeches: in short – very little travel.

However, everything’s relative: in three months we’ve all traveled 230+ million kilometers (a quarter of a full orbit of Earth around the sun)! And that’s without taking into account the fact that the Solar System itself travels at some crazy speed. One thing that hasn’t changed much since lockdown began is business meetings – they’ve simply all moved online. Ah yes – and all our business in general is carrying as usual, unaffected by biological viruses ).

But enough lockdown talk; you’re probably tired of hearing anything in connection with it. Accordingly, herewith, I continue with more of my tales from the cyber-past side; this time – interviews with newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, plus assorted other public performances. (I was reminded of my ‘media relations’ activity while recalling my week of interview-hell at CeBIT long ago the other day when compiling my CeBIT recollections (Cyber-yesteryear, pt. 4). And it turns out I’ve plenty to relate to you about interesting experiences talking to the media and public speaking and all that – plenty that’s fun and unusual, plus of course a few (brightened and polished) photos too.

And there’ll be all sorts of different sizes and flavors of media-tales coming up too: from speeches in practically empty halls – to rammed stadiums! From unknown tiny local media publications – to top-tier global media household-name conglomerates! From professional lectures at leading universities and/or with specially tech-equipped audiences – to informal lectures about the wonders of arithmetic on a ship sailing to… Antarctica via Drake Passage! Eugene is the name; variation is the game ).

Right. I guess the logical place to begin is right at the start…

Read on…

Cyber-yesteryear – pt. 5: 1996 (game-changer year).

Herewith, more tales from back in the day about how our company went from humble beginnings to what we are today. And this cyber-yesteryear series – it’s all thanks to… lockdown! I’d have never found the time for such meanderings down cyber-memory lane otherwise…

Just in case you missed them, here are the previous installments:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

All righty. Part 5: 1996. Truly a fateful, watershed year…

First, at KAMI, where I was still working, the owners decided to break away. As a result KAMI was split up into several independent organizations. And in the following year – 1997 – we broke away too.

Second, we signed an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) contract with the German company G-Data to supply them with of our antivirus engine. That contract ran for a full 12 years – up to 2008! – when we became No.1 on the German retail market. That’s just how it went. Our original-tech prowess was unstoppable! But what were we to do? But, anyway, it was G-Data who’d approached us (we weren’t able to actively seek out tech-partners back then), offering Remizov – boss of KAMI – cooperation, culminating in the signing of the contract at CeBIT, as described in Part 4. And that was how our technology-licensing business took off.

After the Germans (in 1995) came the Finns – F-Secure (in 1996), then known as Data Fellows. Let me tell you about how our cooperation with them started.

In August 1995, the first ever macro virus appeared, which infected Microsoft Word documents. It turned out that writing macro viruses was very straightforward, and they were being spread at alarming rates among a great many unsuspecting users. This caught the attention of other virus writers, and very quickly macro viruses became the biggest headache for the antivirus industry. Detecting them was far from easy, since the format of a Word document is most complex (who knew?:). So for several months AV firms played shamen using various methods, until when, in early 1996, McAfee (the company:) announced the ‘correct’ disassembly method for the format of Word documents. That news was latched onto by our colleague Andrey Krukov (who’d joined our collective in 1995), and he quickly came up with a most elegant and effective tech solution. I put the word out about this, and pretty soon companies started approaching us with offers to buy our technology. Having garnered several such offers, we arranged a meet with them all – at the upcoming Virus Bulletin Conference in Brighton, UK, where Andrey and I traveled to in the fall of 1996.

In Brighton, things hardly went to plan: none of those meetings ever came to anything! However…

Read on…

Cyber-yesteryear – pt. 4: CeBIT.

Finally, summer’s arrived. Took it’s time! But I’m not sure it’s the blessing it normally is, since we’re all still sat at home working remotely. Sure, there have been ‘easings’ here and there around the world, but we here at K are in no rush to… rush things. I think that goes for other IT companies too that will be working from home till at least fall, while some have signaled they’re on for staying home until the end of the year. And of course business trips are still being cancelled, as are exhibitions and conferences and Olympic Games and Cannes Festival and a whole load of other large-scale events. Some countries still have closed borders too.

So yep: we’re all still cooped up, not getting out much, and getting a bit stir crazy with the cabin fever. At least that’s how things are for many, I’m sure. There are others who are taking advantage of all the extra time and getting more exercise than ever, the devils! I’m somewhere in-between. Sometimes tired of Groundhog Every-Day, but staying busy. And that includes dusting off and delving into my archives to dig up some old photos, which lead to fond memories (plus reminders of how quickly the world is changing), which lead to… my next cyber-yesteryear post!

Yes, this series combines cyber-nostalgia, plus various personal and business insights I’ve picked up along the cyber-way, which I hope will be useful to some, or just interesting to others. Accordingly, I continue here today with part four, and I continue my tales, begun in part three, about CeBIT

CeBIT – we loved it to bits! It was just sooo new and different and massive and…

Read on…

Cyber-yesteryear – pt. 3: 1992-199x.

Just in case you missed the first two, this is the third episode of my cyber-yesteryear chronicles. Since I’m in lockdown like most folks, I have more time on my hands to be able to have a leisurely mosie down cyberseKurity memory lane. Normally I’d be on planes jetting here, there and everywhere for business and tourisms – all of which normally takes up most of my time. But since none of that – at least offline/in person – is possible at the moment, I’m using a part of that unused time instead to put fingers to keyboard for a steady stream of personal / Kaspersky Lab / cyber-historical nostalgia: in this post – from the early to mid-nineties.

Typo becomes a brand

In the very beginning, all our antivirus utilities were named following the ‘-*.EXE’ template. That is, for example, ‘-V.EXE’ (antivirus scanner), ‘-D.EXE’ (resident monitor), ‘-U.EXE’ (utilities). The ‘-‘ prefix was used to make sure that our programs would be at the very top of a list of programs in a file manager (tech-geekiness meets smart PR moves from the get go?:).

Later, when we released our first full-fledged product, it was named ‘Antiviral Toolkit Pro’. Logically, that should have been abbreviated to ‘ATP’; but it wasn’t…

Somewhere around the end of 1993 or the beginning of 1994, Vesselin Bontchev, who’d remembered me from previous meet-ups (see Cyber-yesteryear – pt. 1), asked me for a copy of our product for testing at the Virus Test Center of Hamburg University, where he worked at the time. Of course, I obliged, and while zip-archiving the files I accidentally named the archive AVP.ZIP (instead of ATP.ZIP), and off I sent it to Vesselin unawares. Some time later Vesselin asked me for permission to put the archive onto an FTP server (so it would be publically available), to which I obliged again. A week or two later he told me: ‘Your AVP is becoming really rather popular on the FTP!’

‘What AVP?’, I asked.
‘What do you mean ‘What AVP’? The one you sent me in the archive file, of course!’
‘WHAT?! Rename it right away – that’s a mistake!’
‘Too late. It’s already out there – and known as AVP!’

And that was that: AVP we were stuck with! Mercifully, we (kinda) got away with it – Anti-Viral toolkit Pro. Like I say – kinda ). Still, in for a penny, in for a pound: all our utilities were renamed by dropping the ‘-‘ prefix and putting ‘AVP’ in its place – and it’s still used today in some of the names of our modules.

First business trips – to Germany for CeBIT

In 1992, Alexey Remizov – my boss at KAMI, where I first worked – helped me in getting my first foreign-travel passport, and took me with him to the CeBIT exhibition in Hannover in Germany. We had a modest stand there, shared with a few other Russian companies. Our table was half-covered with KAMI transputer tech, the other half – our antivirus offerings. We were rewarded with a tiny bit of new business, but nothing great. All the same, it was a very useful trip…

Our impressions of CeBIT back then were of the oh-my-grandiose flavor. It was just so huge! And it wasn’t all that long since Germany was reunified, so, to us, it was all a bit West Germany – computer-capitalism gone bonkers! Indeed – a cultural shock (followed up by a second cultural shock when we arrived back in Moscow – more on that later).

Given the enormity of CeBIT, our small, shared stand was hardly taken any notice of. Still, it was the proverbial ‘foot in the door’ or ‘the first step is the hardest’ or some such. For it was followed up by a repeat visit to CeBIT four years later – that time to start building our European (and then global) partner network. But that’s a topic for another day post (which I think should be interesting especially for folks beginning their own long business journeys).

Btw, even as far back as then, I understood our project was badly in need of at least some kind of PR/marketing support. But since we had, like, hardly two rubles to rub together, plus the fact that journalists had never heard of us, it was tricky getting any. Still, as a direct result of our first trip to CeBIT, we managed to get a self-written piece all about us into the Russian technology magazine ComputerPress in May 1992: home-grown PR!

Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the dollars of Englishmen!

My second business trip was in June-July of the same year – to the UK. One result of this trip was another article, this time in Virus Bulletin, entitled The Russians Are Coming, which was our first foreign publication. Btw – in the article ’18 programmers’ are mentioned. There were probably 18 folks working at KAMI overall, but in our AV department there were just the three of us.

London, June 1992

Read on…