On The Road Again
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Nearly two weeks crossing Tibet – along a route we won’t forget.

Nearly two weeks crossing Tibet – along a route we won’t forget.

Hi folks!

As you’ll have guessed from the title of this post, I recently – a mere few months since my previous mega-expedition! – had a vacation in Tibet…

Spoiler alert! It was awesome!

…But don’t feel I’ve spoiled things for you now you know the ending: there are a lot of words and – as per tradition – a lot of pics and vids coming up in a series on this oh-my-Gimalaya trip!

Ok, first, let me give you an overview of our itinerary of the trip – the where, when, how far, and what we saw – broken down into days (with altitudes noted too!)…

Where: This will come as no surprise – Tibet.

When: 7–17 October. This is straight...

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A conference center used just four days a year!

A conference center used just four days a year!

Ni hao, folks!

Recently, we took part in the World Internet Conference, which takes place every year in the touristy town-on-water Wuzhen in western China, here, not far from Shanghai. This was my fourth visit, having been here before in 2015, 2017 and 2018. And since things are developing very nicely for us over in China, I’m sure it won’t be the last time either; it’s a most useful and interesting event.

This year is the sixth annual WIC here. A complex was built especially for it out of two enormous buildings, and this year they’d gone and added a third! ->

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Very modern; clearly not done on the cheap: impressive.

But what is perhaps...

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Kurils-2019 adventure – over and out.

Kurils-2019 adventure – over and out.

All righty. After our brief inspection of the Commander Islands, we raced back to the Athens and set sail for Kamchatka. But no matter how fast we sailed, we couldn’t keep ahead of the storm – approaching sternwards. That last detail – sternwards – was actually a blessing in disguise: if it had come in from the port or starboard side it could have spelled disaster. So, in a word: phew.

In the photos below it may not be easy to grasp just how high those waves got: much higher than the Athens! Good Lord were they powerful – rocking the boat around like… a bucking bronco. Not for the squeamish. Most of the posse stayed on their bunks for a full two days...

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3000% growth.

3000% growth.

We do reeeaaally interesting work.

We protect users, build a new secure future, and chase cyber-villains the world over. At the same time, the ‘landscape’ is constantly changing, meaning there’s never a single moment we might get bored.

Yes, ‘digital’ these days penetrates even the most unlikely, remote and conservative areas of activity of Homo sapiens, and, alas, the greasy fingers of the computer underground and also the cyber-war-mongers are right there with it up to no good. In the early 2000s, I’d joke up on stages around the world about ‘smart’ [sic] refrigerators one day DDoS’ing coffee machines. Fast forward 15 years, and it’s a reality. So you can see why, in the Read more...

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Welcome to the Commander Islands!

Welcome to the Commander Islands!

We’ve already had a few ‘B-sides’ – Aniva and Tyuleny – on our Kurils adventure. Now it was time for a bonus track – a previously unreleased rarity, as it were: the Commander Islands!

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Never heard of them? You have now. Curious name, no? Do they remind you of Commander Bond, by any chance? Oops. Digression – already!…

Well, they’re a handful of tiny islands in the Bering Sea around 175 kilometers off the Kamchatkan coast – the westernmost islands of the Aleutian Islands. And we tagged a short visit to them on to the end of out Kurils expedition. And here they are:

Steller’s Arch, in the next pic, is a basalt butte named after the German botanist,...

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‘Zavaritsky: a ‘Festival of Vivid Volcanic Color that Couldn’t Be Fuller!’

‘Zavaritsky: a ‘Festival of Vivid Volcanic Color that Couldn’t Be Fuller!’

Hi folks!

This is getting silly. Our Kurils expedition this year was in summer. Soon – it’ll be winter! So I’d better get back to my tales from the Kurilian side and make some decent progress toward finishing them; otherwise it’ll be Christmas and I’m still on about our summer holidays.

So, as every YouTuber loves to say, ‘without further ado’, let’s get back (far-)east. Specifically – ~40 kilometers to the southwest of Brouton Bay along the eastern coast of the Kuril island of Simushir, namely – at Zavaritsky Caldera.

Zavaritsky is yet another voluptuous volcano of the Kurils. Now, if Krenitsyn is the ‘King of...

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Tyuleny – the resort-island… for seals.

Tyuleny – the resort-island… for seals.

Hi folks!

It seems a bit strange looking at some of my summer holiday photos and editing them, especially when they don’t even relate directly to the Kurils, even though they were taken on our Kurils-2019 adventure! But we’d gotten to the end of the Kurils, so there were no more of them in line for us to check out. The next island after Kunishir is Japan’s Hokkaido. So we took a right (westerly) turn, and headed toward the island of Sakhalin. I say toward, as we didn’t make it to that island. Instead we stopped at a micro-island just off one of its three southern capes – Tyuleny Island; which is appropriately named, as you’ll see in the vids and...

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Up an orange stream – for a fumarole-stroll.

Up an orange stream – for a fumarole-stroll.

There’s another volcanism feature on Kunashir definitely worth a visit: the fumarole ‘fields’ of Mendeleyeva Volcano. Last time we strolled across one such field; this time we walked along the river toward the second. And a wonderful walk it was too. Though it was a ‘mere’ eight kilometers one way, another eight back, it still took our group of office dwellers the full day to cover it. Still, taking our time meant the meditative-enjoyment factor was fully guaranteed!

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To get to the nearest fumarole field you take the forest path; to get to the furthest one you take… the river! The overgrowth either side of the river is just too thick...

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Chirpoy and his little brother.

Chirpoy and his little brother.

Hi folks!

Yesterday you’ll recall we were on Sumishir being bowled over by its Zavaritsky Caldera. Today, sailing southwest along the string of Kurils, we first took in the rather plain Broutona and its bay of the same name (named after the British naval officer and explorer William Broughton). And after that – two small islands together referred to as Chyornye Bratya – the Black Brothers, with one called Chirpoy, and the other – Brat Chirpoyev (Chirpoy’s brother!), here.

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Here they are: in the distance – Chirpoy; nearer – his brother:

Chirpoy recently erupted a few times, and has some impressive craters up top, plus fumaroles and assorted other...

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If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked this question in 30 years…

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked this question in 30 years…

Hi folks!

Can you guess what question I’m asked most of all during interviews and press conferences?

It started being asked back in the 1990s, quickly becoming the feared question that used to make me want to roll my eyes (I resisted the temptation:). Then after a few years I decided to simply embrace its inevitability and unavoidability, and started to improvise a bit and add extra detail to my answers. And still today, though my answers have been published and broadcast in probably all the mass media in the whole world – often more than once – I am asked it over and over, again and again. Of late though, it’s...

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Many an exclusive photo – from Beirut’s Jeita Grotto.

Many an exclusive photo – from Beirut’s Jeita Grotto.

!folks مرحبا

Now, if ever you’re in Lebanon, whatever you do don’t miss out Jeita Grotto, which is just 15 minutes outside Beirut in a car. It’s title is in the singular, but the grotto actually refers to a ‘system’ of two separate (though interconnected) karstic limestone caves. The upper one is mostly dry and gigantic; the lower one features a river, is generally smaller in size, but it’s length is a full seven kilometers (!), which is five kilometers longer than the upper cave.

Here’s the upper cave:

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The lower cave:

Since the caves were found only relatively recently (lower – ~200 years ago; upper – 60 years ago),...

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A leisurely route – around Beirut.

A leisurely route – around Beirut.

For many of you, what you associate with the brand ‘Beirut’ will probably be nothing too positive. Unfortunately, there are many objective reasons for that. The main one – there was a very long civil war here; there’ve been assorted other armed conflicts since then too. Details of the civil war made the headlines throughout the 1980s all over the world, with its awfulness even trickling down into pop songs – both in the East and the West. I won’t go into the reasons behind the civil war… because I can’t, for there is practically nothing but lies about them if you try to research them (.

Beirut was partially destroyed, but when peace finally came about...

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Byblos – the oldest city in the world. Probyblos.

Byblos – the oldest city in the world. Probyblos.

Hi folks!

Herewith, I continue my historical-archeological dispatches from what is today known as Lebanon. Specifically – from Byblos, one of the oldest cities in the world.

Quite how old no one can really say for sure, but the internet rumors it to be around 9000 years! The guides who were showing us round – plus the info on the walls here – give the more modest figure of approximately 6000 years. Others say ~7000; still others – ~8000. Whatever – give or take a few thousand years (!), this city is still for sure one of the world’s very oldest.

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Curiously, the Russian Wikipedia page states that the word Bible – yep, that book...

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Bodacious Cappadocia cliffs and caves.

Bodacious Cappadocia cliffs and caves.

I’ve already shown you the oddly shaped rock formations up on the surface here at Cappadocia. Turns out the unusual shape theme continues underneath the surface too: man-made caves – ‘upside-down skyscrapers’. Well, why not? After all, pumice is very soft for a rock, so it’s not crazy difficult to carve out (as it no doubt was in Baalbek); also – it doesn’t need strengthening; also – due to the dry climate there’s no water needs pumping out from the underground depths.

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Then it seems that everything was forgotten about and abandoned (as often happened), and the caves were taken over by dust, decay and depression. Then, centuries – or millennia –...

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Threat Intelligence Portal: We need to go deeper.

Threat Intelligence Portal: We need to go deeper.

I understand perfectly well that for 95% of you this post will be of no use at all. But for the remaining 5%, it has the potential to greatly simplify your working week (and many working weekends). In other words, we’ve some great news for cybersecurity pros – SOC teams, independent researchers, and inquisitive techies: the tools that our woodpeckers and GReAT guys use on a daily basis to keep churning out the best cyberthreat research in the world are now available to all of you, and free at that, with the lite version of our Threat Intelligence Portal. It’s sometimes called TIP for short, and after I’ve said a few words about it here,...

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All okie-dokia – in Cappadocia.

All okie-dokia – in Cappadocia.

If you’ve heard of Cappadocia, you’ll probably know it for one of two things – or maybe both: its strange-shaped pyramid-columns, or (and) the many hot-air balloons that often fill the sky there. Well I’d heard of the place, but had never been, but wanted to for a very long time. The place even has a spot in my Top-100 Must-See Most-Beautiful Places in the World, so it was high time I made a visit seeing as though I was in the region recently…

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About the hot-air balloons: usually the first batch of a hundred of them take off before dawn. Then, a little later, the second batch goes up too. Each balloon carries 15-35 folks, so what you get is 150 hot-air...

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The Black Sea resort of Sochi – the perfect setting for a conference on industrial cybersecurity.

The Black Sea resort of Sochi – the perfect setting for a conference on industrial cybersecurity.

After a spot of globetrotting – Beirut > Tianjin – it was time to head somewhere a bit closer to home: Sochi! Wey-hey – here come a few days working in a resort town. For it was here where we had our recent industrial cyber-event…

Since the temperatures in Moscow were taking their usual descent toward 0°C, it was most pleasant to know I’d still be in a t-shirt-weather-place after Lebanon-China. Woah – mid-20s – perfect! Our connection was in Moscow – Sheremetyevo – and it was damp and dark and +8°C outside – but we didn’t go outside. It was six in the morning, there was no one about, and we...

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Nighttime in… Tianjin; plus the odd tale of Chinese AV – given away for free!

Nighttime in… Tianjin; plus the odd tale of Chinese AV – given away for free!

Straight after our Top-100 tourism in Lebanon, I suddenly found myself in… China! Specifically, on the Heihe River (the upper part of the Rui Shui River) in the city of Tianjin!

It was my second time in the city, having been here precisely seven years ago. I remember that trip very well – mostly: that I was bowled over by its spaciousness, cleanliness and neatness. Since then, I can report that the city has grown in population – clearly visible by the increased numbers of vehicles on the roads and folks on the sidewalks along the riverbank – on a Sunday evening. Come the following evening – the city was a lot...

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The filmmaking feats and photographic treats of our American friends on the Kuril expedition.

The filmmaking feats and photographic treats of our American friends on the Kuril expedition.

I’ve already mentioned a few times that we had a few American friends along for the rideadventure in the Far East, and that I’d be ‘getting to them’ later on. Well that later on has arrived!…

So who were these folks from the U. S. of A. (and a few other countries), who traveled with me and my regular expeditioners?

First up – Mr. Chris Burkard, the very famous and very successful photographer of all things extreme, distant, fantastic – often and preferably all three at the same time. He’d heard lots about the Kurils, and had long dreamed of exploring and snapping them. So one day, while...

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Guess which company made the ‘Top-100 Global Innovators’!

Guess which company made the ‘Top-100 Global Innovators’!

Hi folks!

Regular readers of my blog will know how I occasionally write about some of our less noticeable – but no less important – business successes: those related to our patents and how they help us fight – incredibly – not just cyber-evil, but also patent trolls who do nothing but hinder technological progress.

I said ‘success’. Well here’s out latest: we’ve become the first Russian company to enter the Derwent Top 100 Global Innovators! Hurray!

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The Derwent Top-100 is a yearly rating conducted by the independent American company Clarivate Analytics of the most innovational companies in the world, based on companies’ patent...

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The world’s largest man-made explosion ever – by far: in the Kurils, where else?!

The world’s largest man-made explosion ever – by far: in the Kurils, where else?!

Hi folks!

Back to the Kurils for the next installment on our far-eastern archipelago adventure…

Island: Simushir, uninhabited;

Location on island: Brouton Bay;

Place of interest: Abandoned Soviet naval base.

The naval base existed from the late-70s up until 1994. In its heyday around 3000 folks lived here. Now the place is deserted, has been looted, is overgrown and rusting. Up close: ugly. A way off, on a sunny day – mysteriously charming:

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What the place is known most for among naval historians/buffs, and also the people who lived there and ‘participants’, is the story of its being the site of one of the...

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More from Baalbek: ancient stone construction hi-tech.

More from Baalbek: ancient stone construction hi-tech.

Perhaps the first question that comes to mind for anyone who visits Baalbek is: who placed all these massive stones here, when, why, and how? Ok, ok: the first four questions ).

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The stones are gigantic: almost too big to fit in a photo!

But you can’t really get a feel for their size if you see a pic just of them; you need to add a few Homo sapiens:

Here, the structure goes like this: smaller blocks at the base; above those larger ones; and above those – MASSIVE ones, with the following dimensions: 21 x 5 x 4 meters!

And those humungous blocks are seven meters above the ground. So who – or what – lifted them up? Wiki doesn’t...

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From Phoenicia to Lebanon.

From Phoenicia to Lebanon.

Lebanon: the photos – and a few videos – have been sifted, edited, spruced, and are ready. My tales from the country are ripe and also ready – to be blogged. But first – a photographic introduction: this post is made up of a few dozen pics of the country’s monumental historic places of interest.

While you view them, I recommend you update your knowledge of the geography and history of this part of the world; in particular of the following: Baalbek, Byblos, Phoenicia. There’s also the name Jeita Grotto, which may be new to you as it was for me (get ready to be astonished thereby). And, while you’re at it, you may as well refresh your memory of the modern history...

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Please move forward – by one year!

Please move forward – by one year!

Konichiwa folks!

October 4 has caught up with me again – suddenly, I’m 54 years old! Goodness!

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It was as if leading Russian business daily Kommersant knew my b-day was coming up – including me in their 1000 Best Russian Managers – 2019 listing [Russian language]. Nice! Thank you: that was my first birthday present! Am much obliged.

Even nicer was seeing a full four K-bosses in the Top-100/Top-50 rankings in the same newspaper in their respective lines of work:

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Have no fear: the sun is out in Ushishir!

Have no fear: the sun is out in Ushishir!

Hi folks!

You didn’t think there’d be just one post on Ushishir, did you! )…

Of course not! Why limit probably the best volcano in the world to just one? No reason at all; accordingly, here we go – deeper. Literally! Into a cave here! For example – the one ringed red, here:

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From afar – nothing special ->

But then you get nearer…

Woah – hole! No – two holes: like eyes peering out. The devil’s eyes!

Birds everywhere – even inside this cave:

The seaweed stuck to the cliffs shows how high the morning full-tide gets.

We enter the cave. Looking back… “oh: nice!” – Petrovich.

And here are the two devil-eyes – ouch – from inside the...

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