Tag Archives: technology

K-LOVE & KISSES 2014 – PART 1.

Hip, hip, hurray! Yee ha! Woo hoo! The latest incarnation of KIS has landed – everywhere (almost)!

As per our long held tradition of launching new kit during the summer months – we’ve now managed to get KIS 2014 officially released in all the main regions of the world and in all the most widely spoken languages. For those interested in KIS itself, go here to download the new version. Upgrade guidelines are here.

And as is also becoming a bit of a tradition early fall, the time has come for me to tell you all what’s in this here new version…

There’s plenty of new stuff in KIS 2014 – with a special emphasis on protection against future threats.

First thing I can say: new stuff – there’s plenty of it. So much so that there’ll be several posts covering the key new features separately, as the low-down on all of them won’t fit into one bite-sized blogpost that won’t send you to sleep…

So, here we go… with post No. 1:

Basically, KIS 2014 packs yet more punch than its already punchy predecessor – KIS 2013 – which even without all this year’s additions was unlucky for no one. The protection provided is harder, better, faster, stronger. KIS has gone under the knife for a nip and tuck complete face-lift of its interface, and the logic of its main operations has been overhauled too.

There are new features to ensure secure online money operations (we’ve beefed up Safe Money); there are new features in Parental Control; there’s integrated protection against malicious blockers; and there are various new performance accelerators and optimizers to make the protection even more invisible and unobtrusive.

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But the best feature of all in this version is what we put most effort into: providing protection from future threats, having added to the product – much to the chagrin of cyberswine – several specialized avant-garde technologies (none of which appears to be included in competitors’ products). No, we haven’t used a time machine; nor did we track down cyberpigs and do a Jack Bauer interrogation on them to get to know about their planned mischief. We shamanized, looked into the future, came up with rough calculations of the logic of the development of cyber-maliciousness, and transferred that logic into practice in our new technologies of preventative protection.

Among the preventative measures against future threats I’d like to emphasize the souped-up Automatic Exploit Prevention – two special technologies from our corporate solutions that have been adapted for our home products – ZETA Shield and Trusted Applications mode, plus a built-in proactive anti-blocker.

So how do all these fancy sounding features actually help in daily computer hygiene? Let me start by telling you first about Trusted Applications mode – the world’s first for such technology being featured in a home product providing complex security.

More: Fighting the parcel in ‘pass the parcel’ syndrome…

The phantom of the boot sector.

My power over you
grows stronger yet
(с) Andrew Lloyd Webber – Phantom Of The Opera

In the ongoing battle between malware and anti-malware technologies, there’s an interesting game that keeps getting played over and over – king of the castle.

The rules are simple: the winner is the one who loads itself into the computer memory first, seizes control of the ‘levers’, and protects itself from other applications. And from the top of the castle you can calmly survey all around and guard the order in the system (or, if you’re malicious, on the contrary – you can cause chaos, which goes both unnoticed and unpunished).

In short, the winner takes all, i.e., control over the computer.

Cybercriminals have long taken an unhealthy interest in boot sector – the ideal way to hide the fact that the computer is infected. And they use a special strain of malware – bootkits.

And the list of applications wanting to do the boot process first begins with (as the name might suggest) the boot sector – a special section of the disk that stores all the instructions for what, when and where to load. And, terror of terrors, even the operating system sticks to this list! No wonder cybercriminals have long taken an unhealthy interest in this sector, since abusing it is the ideal way to get first out of the blocks while completely hiding the fact that the computer is infected. And the cybercriminals are helped in this by a particular class of malware – bootkits.

How your computer loads

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To find out what bootkits are and how we protect you against them – read on…

More: the prosperity, the fall and the return of bootkits…

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Emulate to exterminate.

First, a bit of rewind/intro…:

100% guaranteed protection doesn’t exist. You probably know that perfectly well by now. Indeed, even the most reliable antivirus sometimes gets bypassed in professional attacks. That’s bad news enough already. What’s even worse news is that inferior antiviruses get bypassed a lot more frequently.

If they want, highly professional criminals can hack into anything; thankfully, such cyber-Moriatys are few and far between. For the most part, cyber-outrages are carried out by common-or-garden programmers who seem to get their right and wrong all mixed up – seduced by greed and thinking they can get away with it (ha!). These chancers usually don’t have sufficient criminal cyber-skills to pull off hacking the most advanced mega-defenses out there, but they are more than capable of getting into computers that are either not protected at all or which have colander-protection installed. And, alas, such comps in the world are twenty a penny.

The basic logic of it all is rather straightforward:

The stronger the protection – the stronger the defenses, obviously. At the same time, the more professional the attack – the stronger the defenses it can break.

Now, with 2.5 billion Internet users potential victims out there, this logic leads to the following economics:

Criminals don’t need to go to all the bother of coming up with super-mega skeleton keys for breaking into super-mega secure vaults (especially when what is often saved in such super-mega secure vaults can be some real creepy/weird/dangerous stuff it’s best not to know about). It’s much simpler – cheaper – to break into something more down-to-earth, like a neighbor’s network, since their defenses are bound to be much, much lighter, and their stashes more realizable.

So you get the picture: for the average hacker, there’s no point going to the trouble of preparing for and carrying out mega-professional attacks. Nor is there much sense in switching their criminal focus from Windows to Mac. It’s much more effective to ‘carpet-bomb’ – affecting as many victims as possible with non-pinpointed attacks that don’t take a lot of hassle or brains to carry out.

The better the protection – the less interesting it is for the bad guys. They won’t bother going to the trouble of breaking it, they’ll just find other – more vulnerable – victims elsewhere.

Now, let me tell you more about a feature that puts cybercrims off attacking particularly your comp, and has them decide to go elsewhere where the feature doesn’t reside. Yep, it’s time for another eye-opening excursion under the hood of our antivirus and to let you know more about how the letter K in your taskbar makes you a big turn-off to the cyber-trespassers – through protection from future threats with emulation.

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More: The nearly-perfect testing tube…

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A 3-D printer in a wet Bavaria.

Hallo ihr alle!

In London it was dry and sunny, but not far away in Central Europe they were completely washed out with heavy and persistent rain. And that included Bavaria: gray skies and seemingly endless intermittent precipitation – nothing like what you’d normally expect in June.

We were in Germany – just outside Munich – attending the annual 24 Hours Conference VIP-shindig organized by Deutsche Telekom – in a rather fine ancient chateau. This is a get-together where a very heterogeneous selection of delegates from lots of different countries representing lots of different industries discuss the most burning issues of the day and share their dreams for a better future for all. Like :).

Munich_Germany_24_hours_conference1

Of course, they had me in the room with ‘Security’ written on its large oak door. But while looking for this room we passed quite a few others with interesting ‘themes’ on their doors. One of the most intriguing ones was ‘3-D Printers’. I was more than just a little curious, so poked my head round the door. And lo and behold, there one stood – a 3-D printer – in the flesh!

Basically it’s a cube-shaped frame inside which a secured hose moves about emitting a thin stream of liquid plastic, which slowly builds up… whatever it’s programmed to – well, so long as they’re small plastic knick-knacks. You can see some such knick-knacks next to the printer in the photos:

Munich_Germany_24_hours_conference_3d_printer1

More: What industries would disappear first with the advent of high-quality 3-D printing?…

Cjdthityyj ctrhtnyj/.*

As some of you may have guessed from the title – this post is about encryption!

Actually, about the new full-disk and file-level encryption that are featured in our new corporate product.

Let me warn you now from the outset – there’ll be quite a bit of specific tech terminology and information in this post. I have tried to make it as minimally heavy and dull as possible. However, if the business of encryption will never manage to wet your whistle just a little, well, you can simply sack the idea right now before you begin – and learn all about the touristic treasures of New Zealand, for example :).

Soooo. Encryption:

Kaspersky Security for Business Encryption

More: re-rewind, context, background …

The sysadmin: the controller, the gatekeeper, the security-police, and more. Don’t mess.

The system administrator – also sometimes affectionately known as the computer guy/girl – is a fairly well known figure at any company with more than a handful of employees. Stereotypes abound for sysadmins, and even sitcoms are made about the genre. But a lot of those are out-of-date and silly generalizations (my sysadmin @ HQ is neat and well-groomed – verging on the Hipster, with long blond fringe and side parting!)

So, really, just who is the sysadmin?

Right. All of us – computer users – are divided into three categories in terms of the answer to this question. To the first category, a sysadmin is an angry bearded devil, a computer whiz(ard), and a shaman – all rolled into one. The second category also attributes to sysadmins certain otherworldly traits, but strictly positive ones worthy of repeated bows plus a small gift on every worthy holiday (especially Sysadmin Day). Then there’s the third category of computer users – who don’t take either of these two views of sysadmins; these folks understand they’re just normal folks like the rest of us. And this third category includes the sysadmins themselves!

The shamanic work of sysadmins is eternally interesting: assembling brand new shiny kit, connecting it up with cables (or without them), and also commanding control over mice and keyboards – sometimes from thousands of miles away – and installing or reconfiguring software on a comp from the comfort of their own workplace. However, at the same time the work is hard, incredibly accountable, and, alas, in part thankless.

First of all there are the hundreds or thousands of users who all need to be kept happy – most of them clever-Dicks! Then there are the ever-increasing numbers and types of computers and other newfangled devices – all of which need attention and care. And of course there’s the jungle of software, cables and routers, problems with security… And to top it all off there are the ever-present budgetary constraints and dissatisfaction of the management and users. So it should come as no surprise that only sysadmins with iron psyches and healthy, cynical attitudes to life are the only ones who can cope with the job!

Perhaps the biggest headache for sysadmins is how to physically manage all the tasks under their remit. Installing Office here, correcting a setting in Outlook there, connecting a new comp in the neighboring building, and then getting through another 48 tasks scattered all over the office(s) is all going to result in nothing other than sysadmin burnout! Enter systems management to ease the burden…

The majority of routine operations for controlling a network can either be fully automated, or at least performed remotely, without excessive movement about the office. Upgrade an OS on a comp? Install an application? Check what software is installed on the chief accountant’s laptop? Update antivirus and scan a computer for vulnerabilities? Prolong a license? Correct some pesky setting that’s preventing a program from working as it should? All that and a lot more the sysadmin can do today without leaving his/her room with the help of the same systems management. And just think of the improved productivity of labor and lowering of costs! And how much simpler the life of the sysadmin becomes!

In the early 2000s a control system for the security of a network appeared in our products. It formed a teeny-weeny (but oh-so important) part of systems management, responsible for the monitoring of protected workstations, installation and updating of antivirus, and so on.

AVP Network Control Centre

More: 10 years later…

MDM: Mobile Discipline Mastery.

You’ll no doubt concur with the following observation:

You see them everywhere: folks in elevators, coffee shops, subways, taxis, airports and airplanes, at concerts and parties, on sidewalks, and in darkened cinemas (dammit!), in fact, folks in just about any situation possible – you’ll always find some – no, lots – of them concentrating on, and/or tapping away at the touchscreens of, their smartphones and tablets. And let’s face it – you too do the same, right? (Apart from in the darkened cinema, of course :)

So just what is it these perennial smartphone tappers are up to? Gaming? IMing? Watching movies, or reading the news or an e-book?

All are possible. But more often than not I’ve been observing that at any given convenient moment, any time of day or night, and in any weather, lots of folks tend to be checking their work email and solving work tasks. Yep, on their own absurd-money smartphones! Outside business hours. Without coercion and with plenty of enthusiasm, or, at least, without grumbling :). I sometimes even see them sighing and unconscious pouts forming upon their lips in disappointment that no one’s writing to them!

So why all this 24/7 “at the office, kinda”, all of a sudden? Maybe it’s a cunning virus that infects users’ brains directly from the screen? (Hmmm, that gives me an idea for April 1, 2013:) Or is it that the business management gurus have had it wrong all along re employee motivation? All that was needed in fact was to just connect pretty little glass devices armed with an Internet connection – bought by the employee I might add – to the corporate network! What could be simpler? And that’s exactly what’s been happening; here’s proof: according to Forrester 53% of employees use their own devices for work.

Mobile Device Management

More: The other side of BYOD…

It’s Not All Just Antivirus, You Know. Introducing Kaspersky Security for Business.

It’s been little more than a year since the release of the previous version of our corporate product (Endpoint Security 8), but we’ve already rolled out a new (need I say it – much improved) one. Yesterday, as per tradition in New York, we had our global launch of Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business (KESB) – a nifty bit of software kit in which all sorts of new stuff comes together – from a flock of new functionality to a new name and a new product line.

This post gives you a peak at all these newbie bits and bobs featured in KESB. But first, as a bit of background to make all the new stuff a little easier to get your head round (I hope), let me give you a historic overview what’s gone on in the past and which has brought us to this year’s culmination: KESB.

More: In the beginning there was antivirus…

Finding the Needle in the Haystack. Introducing: Astraea.

Somewhere in the office there’s a carefully guarded little big black book that contains a collection of up-to-date KL facts & figures, which we use in public performances. You know, things like how many employees we have, how many offices and where, turnover, etc., etc. One of the most oft-used figures from this book is the daily number of new malicious programs – a.k.a. malware. And maybe this daily figure is so popular because of how incredibly fast it grows. Indeed, its growth amazed even me: a year ago it was 70,000 samples of malware – remember, per day; in May 2012 it was 125,000 per day; and now – by the hammer of Thor – it’s already… 200,000 a day!

I kid you not my friends: every single day we detect, analyze and develop protection against just that many malicious programs!

How do we it?

Simply put, it all comes down to our expert know-how and the technologies that come about from it – about which another big black book could be compiled from the entries on this here blog (e.g., see the features tag). In publicizing our tech, some might ask if we aren’t afraid our posts are read by the cyber-swine. It’s a bit of a concern. But more important for us is users getting a better understanding of how their (our) protection works, and also what motivates the cyber-scoundrels and what tricks they use in their cyber-bogusness.

Anyway, today we’ll be adding another, very important addition to this tech-tome – one on Astraea technology. This is one of the key elements of our KSN cloud system (video, details), which automatically analyzes notifications from protected computers and helps uncover hitherto unknown threats. In actual fact Astraea has a lot of other plusses going for it – plusses which for a while already our security analysts simply couldn’t imagine their working day without. So, as per my techie-blog post tradition, let me go through it all for you – step by step…

More: Big data, crowdsourcing, data mining and Rocket science…