Tag Archives: singapore

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 ->

Read on…

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…

Flickr photostream

Instagram photostream

SAS-2019: a lot more – in Singapore.

Hi folks!

My April journeying continues. It’s already seen me visit such charming cities as Hanover, Baku and Dubai (reports thereon coming soon). Next stop – Singapore. The garden city, the island wonder – one of my fave cities on the planet, if not the fave. But oh it’s hot. And, oh, it’s humid. But it still remains the city of the future. Maybe that’s why I like it so much?…

First, a few ok pics (mine), and some really good pics (not mine; I still need practice) of this wonder-city – by day, by night, of the ships waiting in line for access to the port:

So why was I here (as if I needed a reason)? Because the annual Security Analyst Summit was being held here – the eleventh! And it was… hmmm – I’ll get to that in a bit…

First – how does one go about gauging the success of a SAS? How do you measure it? Was it totally awesome, or just so-so, or something else? Well, IMHO, you can tell if it was totally awesome if, afterward, you have a strange, somewhat paradoxical feeling: on the one hand you have nothing but positive emotions – a euphoric aftershock that just won’t go away. On the other – you’re already aware that something’s sadly lacking in your life, and will stay lacking for another year – the buzz of a SAS! And on the other – third?! – hand, you feel a little… afraid – when you wonder just how on earth next year’s event will be made even better than this year’s! But then you remember how every year after a SAS you think the same thing – and the following year’s event does turn out even better, and you start to feel better again. All these psychological symptoms together should really be called ‘post-event syndrome’. Must remember that term for next time…

Oops. I’ve digressed. Let me get back to ‘was it good?’. It was, as I hope the previous paragraph indicates. But also – have a look at all the comments, links, likes…

If you’re a new reader here, and maybe SAS is new to you too, briefly, SAS is: an annual event bringing together experts (and the press, bloggers) from all over the world to basically talk to each other, in an informal setting, all about cybersecurity. Announcements, presentations, achievements, challenges, industrial CTF, etc., etc. For a bit more on the SAS template, go here.

Next up: where, why, how, who, from where…

SAS-2019 brought on a ferocious bout of post-event syndrome, whose intensity was all the more acute due to fears that some folks might pull out due to geopolitical reasons. But in the cybersecurity industry folks think with their heads and aren’t swayed by sensational headlines. After all, battling the cyber-baddies is only effective when done together, exchanging information, and telling each other about our victories over the computer underground. Cybercriminals know no borders. And the cyber-goodies shouldn’t be limited by them either. And I’m so glad that our colleagues and competitors in the industry feel the same way.

So, there we were fearing no-shows, but in the end not only did everyone turn up but even more did than we expected! But that figures really – for who doesn’t want to get better acquainted with the company that’s being targeted because it takes a principled stand on protecting users from any cyber-vermin, no matter who may be responsible for it and no matter how much it roils certain very powerful cyberwar-mongers. SAS-2019 broke all its own records: 500+ guests, 100+ contributors, 34 countries represented, ~70 presentations, ~10 workshops and training sessions, and more coverage on social media and in the press than ever before.

Right, where did it all start this year. Ah yes, like every year – it all starts actually months in advance when a countdown clock starts showing the number of days, hours and minutes there are left until the event. Fast forward to the morning of the first day, and those clocks have just minutes left, and the anticipation is hitting fever pitch… All the kit and chairs are in place, microphones fully charged, lighting and visual effects all set up, cameras ready (prepare to flash)…

One minute left…

And we’re off!

After a short welcoming speech, I was pinged to get up on the stage. Of course I obliged, gave a very warm warm-up speech, and also took some pics of the audience from the stage. Why should the audience have all the happy-snapping fun, eh? )

After me it was expert after expert sharing their stories – each one fascinating…

This year the number of presentations was the highest it’s been, as mentioned above, but the diversity of types of presentations was real wide too: some were very technical; others were more business-oriented; there were special training sessions on reverse engineering and other methods for pursuing the cyber-swine; a mini-exhibition; an open presentation room for rooky specialists, and a new feature called SAS Unplugged… As to the best of the best content – that will be coming up shortly in a separate cyber-news-from-the-dark-side post.

This year’s SAS brought us for the first time the following:

  • Separate cybersecurity white-hat hacking streams;
  • A small exhibition of participating companies;
  • Industrial topics;
  • Lots of other stuff, but I can’t quite remember it all.

Come the evening, though everyone was no doubt tired trying to take in all the new information of the day, we all headed to a super seafood restaurant I always visit when in town. Yeh! Yum!

And that was that – almost. Time left only for the final few mega-presentations that are traditionally saved till last. They really were something. If interested – have a search for them on the internet.

Then it was my turn again up on stage. ‘Thank you all for coming’, and the obligatory back-at-you pic:

PS: A big thank-you to Roman Rudakov. His ‘masterpiece button’ provided most of the photos in this post.

PPS: Briefly about where we held this year’s SAS – the Swissotel Stamford, where I’d stayed before, and which I only had negative recollections of. Not that I’m fussy when it comes to hotels. I’m comfortable up a mountainside in the cold and spending the night in a tent, but if a hotel says it’s a 5* hotel on the tin, I expect that’s what’s inside it too. Here, back in 2017 that wasn’t the case. However, this year I was very pleased with the place. Everything seemed to be in fully working order, everything seems to have been renovated, with everything shiny and new somehow. The one thing that they haven’t gotten round to is providing decent Wi-Fi, but that’s all:

Yes, I know – I still use Far Manager! I’m used to it, that’s all ).

Well that’s it for today folks, but I’ll be back with more tomorrow…

All the pics form SAS-2109 are here.

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The best city in the world.

Singapore is a fantastic city – and that goes for its economy, architecture and transportation system. It’s hard to believe, but there’s almost no such thing as traffic jams here! There are loads of tunnels though. You can even drive across half the island underground.

Singapore is especially good in December. In winter here, it’s just hot – not the usual for this part of the world. You still get wet here in December, but not soaking wet like in other seasons. Singapore is located on the equator, in the humid tropics. In all seasons other than winter, you end up completely soaked – every part of your body and everything you’re wearing (if in a suit on your way to a formal business meeting, it’s best to make multiple stops in climate-controlled areas or, even better, use the underground metro walkways). After a while your consciousness takes a hit because of all the humidity you’ve inhaled… and that’s the end of it.

Despite all that, Singapore is the most delightful city in the world, according to my measurements and calculations. Singapore is no. 1. That’s right.

The prices are also fantastic; cars are particularly expensive because of the high import duties. The laws are pretty draconian too, which gave rise to the joke “Singapore is a fine city”. Also, the connoisseurs of modern democracy occasionally badmouth Singapore for not always being ‘democratic’. But it works. I’ve seen some sociological research that found that the residents of Singapore are the happiest in the world. And there’s a queue of those who’d like to get permanent residency, but the quotas are very strict.

On top of all that, Singapore is fabulously beautiful. No matter where or what time of day it is, this place is just beautiful – you can be hypnotized by it and contemplate it forever.


Read on…

Hotel with a downside and 3D printing Singapore-style.

Once, many years ago (10 to be precise) I visited Pattaya, the resort city in Thailand. I was staying in a large hotel whose name I forget. The room was quite ordinary, but it had a magic number:

11111

No word of a lie. When I asked for Wi-Fi on the beach, I had to give my name and my room number. It was funny saying “one-one-one-one-one” :) // Even back then, in ancient times, they already offered a Wi-Fi service on the beach. Even then. On the beach.

It’s a real shame that I lost the photos from that conference (they included some from partner parties). Nor do I have any pictures or recollections of happened there later. In fact, no one actually knows what happened there.

So, the hotel room number was 11111.

That’s great, but it was ages ago.

There are witnesses, but no evidence remains.

Nowadays, you get room numbers that look even more magical.

Believe it or not, but this was my room number in Singapore.

Read on: Hotel with a downside…

An 8-day transcontinental trip.

Dear regulars and visitors to my blog, I continue to pay back my week-old debts. The week in question was pretty hectic. To be more precise, it was an eight-dayer, because it stretched from Monday to Monday.

It all started with my departure from Moscow to St. Petersburg on Sunday evening, and was rounded off by my return from Ekaterinburg to Moscow early on Tuesday morning (right after midnight). All in all, there were four cities on my itinerary, seven flights and 35 hours in the air: Moscow (SVO) – St. Petersburg – Moscow (DME, connection) – Singapore – Sanya – Almaty (refuel) – Ekaterinburg – Moscow (SVO).

The best route from St. Pete to Singapore was via Domodedovo airport in Moscow, where I could catch the direct MOW-SIN (Moscow – Singapore) flight. From St. Pete to Domodedovo, I flew S7 economy class (S7 doesn’t offer business class on this route) without anything of note to report. However, if I have the same sort of connection at Domodedovo again, I will definitely give a full account. Everything there is so messed up inconvenient. They really must have put their minds to it to make it so awkward. I always try to make connections at the far more convenient Sheremetyevo, but this time I had little choice.

Singapore Airlines was top notch, as always. After 10 hours of relaxation, we landed at 6 a.m. in the dream city of Singapore!

Read on: The Interpol exhibition is interesting…

Singapore through the eyes of a first-timer.

Hi all!

D.Z. – this is one of most distinguished and respected KLers, with us since last century (taking a brief creative break in the mid-2000s). D.Z. has also been my fellow traveler a d.z.illion times to… oh, practically everywhere on this planet – but surprisingly not to Singapore. He always takes with him a trusty large black (super-duper) DSLR camera with a dozen or so different lenses too – his tools to create most of the pro-level pics on this here blog and elsewhere. He’s also a great storyteller, so he helps out with all the tales I want to tell – whatever they may be about. Still, despite all these talents, plus his confirmed KL-Establishment member status, he is nevertheless the most modest guy you’d ever meet.

D.Z. et moiMr. modest… et moi (1999)

Like I say, somewhat surprisingly this was D.Z.’s first visit to Singapore. He liked the place so much he took more pics than he normally does and wrote a long write-up too. It’s true that there’s ‘nothing like the first time’. It’s also true that a fresh pair of eyes will see things in a foreign place that others who’ve been several times before already miss due to familiarity – or just plain tiredness from the non-stop globetrotting. Thus, in this post, I pass the reins over to D.Z. to let him give his ‘first-time’ account of this remarkable city – just for a different, fresher perspective.

My only comment to the story: want one book to read to get the real real deal on Singapore? Check it: Lee Kuan Yew – ‘From Third World to First

So, D.Z.’s tale:

—-8<—-

What do we know about Singapore?

It’s a long way away, hot and humid, skyscraping, totalitarian, and they beat you with sticks for dropping gum, spitting, walking barefoot, and other carnal sins. At least, those are the stereotypes impressions of I’d say the majority of non-Singaporeans from afar, for those are the bits that seem to end up in the world’s media about this city-state extraordinaire.

This was my first time in Singapore.

What I saw with my own eyes was far from what I expected – nothing like the above-described imaginings. I have habit of boning up on a country I’m planning on traveling to – to get to know the ‘real’ place and not get caught up in lazy stereotypes and maybe inadvertently insult or upset or annoy anyone. And Singapore’s real deal fairly amazed and intrigued me. The first half of the 19th century is packed with curious history I’d let pass me by, but it’s fascinating how it’s connected with all sorts of details of international relations of my time. 

Collisions of civilizations, a struggle for colonies and trade routes, the friction within and among European and Asian powers, wars, injustice, betrayal, greed and other unpleasantness… Singapore had more than its fair share of all of them. Its history is peppered with nightmare tales, but all the same, in spite of all that, today it stands as the shining example of a successful state based on humane, productive cooperation among peoples, helped by being at an important crossroads of civilization.

A natural competitive advantage of Singapore is its geographical location on a strategic sea route connecting East Asia with the rest of the world. Despite miraculous diversification of the economy in its 50 years of independence, already on the approach to Changi airport it becomes clear how this advantage still plays a hugely important role in the development of the country.

DSC_6506

Back in 1819 it was exclusively the geography of the island that made Britain’s Sir Stamford Raffles set up on the bank of the Singapore River a watch post. Within just several years it had become an important hub of influence of the British Empire in Asia.

Singapore was founded not on an empty greenfield site but on a longstanding fishing village in which folks of different nationalities and religious faiths had lived peacefully for a long time. The arrival of the British naturally saw the town take on a decidedly more European flavor. And, talking of flavors, incidentally the resultant Singaporean cuisine came to be a most interesting and original one – the dishes both tasty and unique.

Having founded Singapore, Raffles left it for a few years to do yet more of his bit for the Empire, handing over the reins to a Major-General William Farquhar for the duration. Upon Raffles‘ return three years later, he was met with two main developments – basically good news and bad. The good news was that the town had gotten much busier and bigger. The bad – it had gotten much busier and bigger un-systemically, resembling an eastern bazar than an exemplary model of a colony of the British Empire.

So a town council was quickly created under the supervision a Lieutenant Jackson, who soon developed a plan for the reconstruction of Singapore. In the main, it was divided up based on the ethnicity of the inhabitants; thus, European, Chinese, Indian, and Arab (Muslim) quarters emerged.

chinatown-singapore-1

It might seem correct at this point to label Jackson an out and out racist and accomplice in apartheid. However, it turned out that such division suited everyone just fine! Each group was happy to cook in its own juices – yet still work closely together; indeed, they’d be doing so for centuries before Raffles. Since then of course, in almost in 200 years, a lot has changed; all the same the main traits of the town-building designs of Jackson remain.

Singapore has two principal must-visits – Little India and Chinatown. Guess which ethnic nationalities make up most of their populations? Yep – Indians and Chinese, respectively, even after all these years. In fact the delineation is blurring somewhat, with many an Indian and much Indian signage to be seen in Chinatown, and vice versa. The result is a serious bit of multiculturalism: Pagodas, stupas, mandirs (Hindu temples), mosques and churches all together peacefully coexisting on small squares. Nice. All the same, the dominating cultural ‘signature’ of the districts remains.

chinatown-singapore-26

Read on: Chinatown vs Little India…

INTERNET-INTERPOL-2015.

I first used the term ‘Internet-INTERPOL’ somewhere around the start of the 2000s. The first time I got round to writing it down was in 2003. This year – 2015 – some 12 years later, finally, what I’ve been talking about, pushing for, advocating, promoting all these years is here:

An INTERPOL division dedicated exclusively to combatting the dark side of the Internet!

Yep, just the other week in sunny Singapore INTERPOL officially opened its new cyber-division – IGCI – whose mission is to clear cyberspace of all things criminal and similarly bogus. It will act as the coordinating center for all international cyber-related activities of police forces of all its member states (nearly 200 countries!). In short: international hackerism and other net-diseases – watch out, CYBERPOL is here for good to make your lives miserable and increasingly risky. Besides investigations it will also be training specialists, promoting the cybercrime fight, and doing a whole lot of other helpful stuff in the name of ww-security for the www.

This opening really is no less than monumentally significant. Up until now cyber-villains have been running amok in part due to a lack of unity among national law enforcement bodies – aka different jurisdictions not talking too much with one another. Like the classic FBI vs. CIA vs. regular cops thing that’s been shown in Hollywood movies since the year dot. But this is real folks! Example:

Late last year one cop was asking us for the contact details of certain other cops from a different country! Asking us! Of course – it should be the other way round: all cops knowing each other and their passing on our contact details when they need some cyber-expertise! Indeed, the two systems’ coexistence (the cybercrims’ one without borders, and state cyber-police’s within the jurisdictions of national borders, or, at best, within the European border) has always been a problem. And it’s only gotten worse over the past 15 years or so – with increasingly brazen cyber-swine doing their stuff practically with impunity. Some of them have been caught and punished, but in the main, those were just the tip of the iceberg.

What makes last week’s event in Singapore even more special for us is that the IGCI was opened with our active participation plus support of various kinds – organizational, consultative, financial, and even personnel. For example, one of our top experts, V.K., is now our assigned ‘man in Singapore’, having been living in the city state and working with INTERPOL for several months already, and set to continue for much longer. He’s helping his INTERPOL colleagues develop and deepen their cyber-knowledge and practical cyber-skills, and even takes part in ongoing investigations. And he’s as happy as a sand boy.

Vitaly Kamluk, our man in INTERPOLV.K. minus the trademark Mohican

Read on: INTERPOL can party too…

Cybercriminals beware: CYBERPOL is coming…

Who are these folks? Maybe the color of (most of) the ties should give you a clue…

INTERPOL - Global Center for InnovationAnd I was trying to blend in…

…For most of you they’ll never have anything to do with you, and you’ll have nothing to do with them. You hope.

But for those who make up the Internet minority who steal money from online banks, clog up e-mail with spam, hack websites, produce credit cards with stolen numbers, etc. – maybe they should take note of this modest crowd. Because these here suits and ties have a particular, burning… obsessive professional interest in that same Internet minority.

Read on: so, who are these people?…