My first class…

…was in the heart of downtown Dubai at the Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina, which means it is all these things including a marina to the Gulf. Great class of 13 students, not bashful at all with lots of questions particularly about my time at the White House. They had not heard of Murphy and Murphy’s Law…but now they know. Teaching cyber security one must speak to a host of other actors that are not in the classroom, but will certainly be there in the real world waiting for them on return to their jobs. Murphy is certainly one of them…and the fact that secure designs account for Murphy and the hackers among others.

Continuing on about my maturing impressions and recognizing that they will change with time as I get to know and see more of the U.A.E….

I am told and have read as much that nearly 90% of the population here in U.A.E. is from some other country most on work permits, many tourists, but all participating in the making of this most amazing place. Getting around the city this ratio seems about right. There are boundaries, to be sure, and they are expected to be respected…like the idea that you don’t misbehave, you don’t despoil your surroundings with garbage or graffiti and you follow the rules of the land. Somehow they have also managed to find a way to fit in luxury with the demure dress code that is the custom here among the Emirati….like the latest iPhone and other Apple products, jewelry and watches and the fastest most expensive cars. It’s all here.

Even experienced my first sand storm…lasted for three days and then things came back to normal. The food is as exotic or as plain as one could wish…whatever one would like it is here within reason. Pork products are not easy to find. It seems that every country is represented here…even found a Cuban place.

English is the lingua Franca of our time so it makes it quite easy to get around and most importantly to teach a class when your Spanish and a bit of German won’t help you much if you don’t speak Arabic.

I am here in country with a small team of US experts in cyber security, one a former Army Major friend of mine from the past (a cannon cocker as they proudly call themselves), a young very geeky software developer (and many other things) who is our Fire Team leader (for those of you with no military background a Fire Team consists of five), a former Marine woman who also formerly worked at the State Department (speaks Russian, Hindi and other languages – amazing talent) and yours truly. Okay that only makes four…close enough for hand grenades as they say.

Switching the topic now to book writing…

I have been forming some ideas for the eNikita follow-on including new characters. Met a woman working as a translator who I almost instantly recognized as the character of Roberta in eNikita and then blew me away when she pulled out her pack of cigarettes and it was a pack of Gitanes Blondes. The character of Roberta, or Berta, as she is called in the book also smokes Gitanes Blondes. For those who don’t know, Gitanes is a rare brand of cigarettes – mostly found France. Enough for now. I’ll do a followup next week. Will be teaching in the Emirate of Sharjah.

Facebook0Twitter0Google+0LinkedIn0

In the United Arab Emirates…

…there is much to tell but the impressions remain the same, there is an amazing transformation taking place in this oasis by the sea. One example is in the world of Information Technology. In the short span of a couple of years the United Arab Emirates will reach a new milestone, this time in cyberspace going from eGovernment (web sites) to add the power of mobility. The initiative is called mGovernment (adding apps) to bring government services into the familiar world of SMS (texting) and the smart phones. Citizens interacting with their government using  smart phones…pretty cool. They actually call it smartGoverment…pretty cool…and it’s not an oxymoron…that will be novel :-)

Facebook0Twitter0Google+0LinkedIn0

In a new land…

Called the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) …a place I had heard about, seen the commercials about the airline Emirates and the soccer team and the new skyline of magnificent buildings…but hearing about it is not the same as being there. And so now I am here. Just landed after a 13 hour flight from Washington DC that followed a 22 hour train ride from Tampa, Florida to Washington DC so I could catch the flight in time (after my Plan A – the first leg of my flight got canceled). Long story, but not that interesting.

What is interesting is this new role…a familiar role…to teach in the U.A.E. …a new place with a culture that is new to me. I have traveled much of the world, but have never been to the Gulf…and now I am here. Will be here, in fact, for 8 months teaching with a great team on a subject that I love; IT and the Security thereof. Some pictures will be forthcoming later, but let’s start with first impressions…

My first impression is of Star Trek. Landing at the airport as the United Airlines Boeing 777 taxied to its port I saw my first Airbus 380, then my second and third…until I lost count. The airport is the biggest I have seen – magnificent architecture. And it is to be retired soon, I am told, when the new one opens up which will be bigger and even more magnificent. I am sure it will be judging by what I saw here and driving to the heart of the city that is Dubais. Again – Star Trek – the kind that I’ve seen in the movies of futuristic skyscrapes etched like long slender fingers into the hazy sky each building with its own character, wide avenues – wider than any I have driven, concrete and steel and greenery to soften the view – everything clean – everything in order…

It is a new land in every sense – a place built in the desert bordered by sea – a place that says “this is the future – now”…like Star Trek.

As I think about the sequel to eNikita I know that the U.A.E. will feature prominently. JP and I had already discussed it, but now I know it for sure. eNikita sets the stage about a future near time…and indeed it is true that “The future is already here, just unevenly distributed”

…It is here in Dubais and I mean to discover more of it, more of its people, its foods and customs, its technology…and I will write about it with John-Patrick in the new book!

Facebook0Twitter0Google+0LinkedIn0

The Christmas spirit – a purpose remembered…

We had our initial launch of the book eNikita in beautiful downtown Oslo, Norway, at a bookstore called Eldorado, the largest (and independent) bookstore in the Nordics. The books are displayed at the front sales counter and on the shelves inside the store . Way cool! Read about it here. And these pictures tell the story.

But we made another sale in Oslo, one that reminded us why we wrote this book and why we created the company called Perseguir. It’s written in one of our first blog posts.

We find wisdom when…”we give to others of our time and our treasures. When we serve a higher calling than our own success. When we recognize the consequence of our own actions.”

@jpskaar, @oddmoe & @ccsolari

In Oslo we met the manager of Gründernes Hus, an exceptional entrepreneur and business man. He bought 40 signed copies of eNikita to auction at an event he is hosting in the coming days for a very special purpose. This event event is organized to help a fellow man and key resource in their company, a man called Anoar from Syria.

Anoar’s father and family have fled to Turkey because of the civil war raging in Syria. But several family members are still in Syria. Anoar hasn’t seen his father in 15 years. The situation is very difficult for his family, and especially the children. This event will primarily benefit these children!

Is this not what Christmas is all about – the idea of giving to others of our time and our treasures, to serve a higher calling than our own success, to recognize that our actions have consequences. Good actions can have good consequences. There can be no greater idea than this one for the launch of book and the company called El Perseguir!

Merry Christmas Gründernes Hus

 

Facebook0Twitter1Google+2LinkedIn1

Launch day in Oslo, Norway: 13 December (Friday), 2013

We had our first launch of the book eNikita in beautiful downtown Oslo, Norway, at a bookstore called Eldorado, the largest (and independent) bookstore in the Nordics. The books are available there – displayed at the front sales counter and inside the store. Way cool! The pictures tell the story!

Our host Torgeir Watherhouse (@tawaterhouse), led a panel discussion about the security topics of eNikita. “Are the security breaches described in the book fact or fiction, What does this say about the current conflict about privacy and security being discussed in the halls of Europe’s government and in the United States?” These were a few of the questions addressed with the audience. While this was taking place there was also a blog that got posted on Computer Weekly by Philip Virgo recommending that his readers make a present of the book for their “CEO’s” to help them better understand the issues inside their own corporations.
We had a great day in Oslo and look forward to repeat this in New York City within the next few months.

Happy @jpskaar :-)

Our host @tawaterhouse… great job!

Very proud of all the feedback… @ccsolari & @jpskaar

eNikita book signing

 

 

 

Facebook0Twitter3Google+3LinkedIn1

It’s about a girl…

When my book El Capitan was getting ready to publish I asked a few friends to give it a read and for their feedback. I was a bit anxious…did not know what they would say. Maybe I should not have been so worried; they were very complimentary and encouraging. But the funny thing is that their real interest in the story was a bit surprising. What they wanted to know is…”what about the girl?” The teenage character called Kathy is what caught their fancy, that and her relationship with the young hero, Rio, in the story. To be sure, the story of El Capitan is about boys and soccer and many other things. They said, “that’s okay, but what happens to Kathy and Rio?” That is what they were really interested in – and that was a bit surprising. I had to make a promise that the answer would be revealed in the next book…the teenage love story would continue…promise ☺

And, oh, yes, I also had to answer the same question when I first read it to my first reviewer, my wife. Her question was a bit more pointed, or should I say, she cut through the fog like a hot knife through butter. “Who is Kathy,” she asked? I’ve learned along the way (sometimes the hard way) that telling the truth is always best. Especially when facing the DNA-coded questioning capability of a woman asking about another woman. I told her. Kathy is based on two real life persons (unnamed here) who filled my teenage years with teenage bliss. She looked at me and gave her blessing…the story could proceed. I was out of jail, whew! And I also told her that I spoke with my two real-life (now friends) sources (reconnecting after over thirty years) so I could tell them about the book and about how they were the inspiration for the character of Kathy. We had a very fun conversation…and my wife said it was okay. Whew again!

Learning this very interesting phenomenon (to me at least) about what really motivates readers to take an interest in a story I worked that very same interest into the eNikita story. Together with JP we came up with the character of Monika initially as a counter-point to our young hacker hero called Frank. So the story of eNikita is about a girl, her name is Grete and Grete fills your heart with everything that is good. But we people of the world are not all made up like Grete; most of us are rather more complex. Monika is complex…her love interest is Frank, and she is one cool cat.

It’s not about puppy love. It’s about the deep in your soul, takes your very breath away love between a woman and the man that she finds, her soul mate. eNikita is about a girl, but not just one girl.

Facebook0Twitter1Google+2LinkedIn1

The Making of a Cyber Crime Thriller using Symphonical…

In a review of eNikita someone asked a question about “how much of reality or experience did we put into the story? The simple answer is a great deal. But the answer is actually more complex.

We set out to write an international thriller with many twists, agendas hidden inside other agendas using real places and real happenings. And in the process of writing the story it did not take long before we found ourselves in a mess. Somewhat by chance we came about a small but significant discovery to help us resolve our “complexity” problem. It came in the form of a web site called Symphonical (www.symphonical.com).

We discovered it at a crucial moment. It turned out to be just the tool that we needed to work the many vectors of time, space, characters, themes, plots and subplots. There was so much complexity in the story that the project was at risk of failing from our frustration. What we needed was an electronic whiteboard that both JP and I could work on together at the same time or separately; JP in Norway and me in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. There it was waiting for us – the collaboration tool that we needed to work wherever we were – in real time using Google’s Hangout and Symphonical we had the two most essential tools that had been missing in our toolbox. If this is starting to sound like a Symphonical testimonial…well it is. Very cool stuff!

So, yes, the places in the story are real; the action is drawn from the work of real organizations engaging in the business crime, counter-crime and much of what takes place in the story we know about directly or worked in the field with colleagues. There is, as an example, an organization in the FBI, “cyber squads.” There is also an “Innocent Images” program. Drawing from the time that I worked in the FBI and refreshing my knowledge with friends who had more current and direct knowledge we were able to write about this activity with realism. We have met the real people who engage in this work to find and protect the innocent from the predators, in the US and in Norway. This crime does happen. Cyber theft and social engineering is becoming big business in a cynical sort of way and power is the game that gets played. There are real dedicated people in law enforcement with incredible skill who’s job it is to defend and protect.

Then there was the problem of each of us, JP and me, having other things to do, like a job and families, the time difference and even some language barriers. Symphonical helped us keep it organized and to work the complexity. Thank you Bjørn and thank you Symphonical!

Facebook0Twitter5Google+4LinkedIn1

The telling of stories…it begins with El Capitán

Let’s get started …., like what inspired El Capitán and where did these stories come from? What about the teenage love interest in the story? Are these based on real people? There are so many questions to ask and the fun will be in answering them, getting engrossed in the story within the story to find the small nuggets of wisdom that comes with good storytelling.

What did inspire El Capitán?

The story of El Capitán is a look to the past and a gaze into the future. Its first purpose was to say thank you. There have been so many people who came inside of our family circle when we first landed at La Guardia in New York City. In 1962 Kennedy Airport did not exist. La Guardia to a boy of six arriving in the United States with my brothers and baby sister, mom barely 25 years old herself was like entering into some alien space ship, a huge dome of metal, glass, stone and it was cold, so very cold.

We were five siblings at that time, my older brother was nine and my sister, the youngest, was less than a year old. From there to this day now over fifty years was a time of becoming part of the American fabric. Like the young French woman said, I am not so American. She was right. I have much of the Latino in me and yet, she was also wrong. I am the American story. My story is its story, a nation made of immigrants.

So the telling of El Capitán was to say thank you America, thank you to the people who shared their sense of what it meant to be an American so that we too could earn our place and share its burdens to help others.

It was also inspired by the need to tell dad’s stories and mom’s as well. There was a special man in the life of my father. His name was Aldo Sacheri. Don Aldo, as he would be called in South America kept a promise made to his best friend, my grandfather. Don Aldo promised him that he would look in on his son. My grandfather was dying of a tropical disease. Dad was only nine years old at the time. The year was 1941. A world war was starting. But to my father the world was collapsing not in some distant shore but right there in his small coastal town of Ecuador. He got the Dengue fever. The food ran out. He and his mother, my grandmother had to figure out how to survive.

And then a man showed up, his father’s best friend. Don Aldo showed up to keep his promise. He looked “in on the boy” of nine, and brought him under his wing to give him a start in life. My story would not exist, nor that of my brothers or my sister if it were not for that very special man Aldo Sacheri. El Capitán was inspired by him and about the idea that friends can become brothers to watch out for each other.

Facebook0Twitter1Google+3LinkedIn0

eNikita back cover text…

They “knew everything about us,” the grandmother told the Norwegian police investigators between her tears. Ten-year old Grete was going to meet her teacher in school. It all seemed so “normal” said the grandparents.

A hacker named Frank and a triad of Norwegian, Europol and FBI investigators convene to “find Grete.” There is more at stake that has mobilized the cross-Atlantic cooperation. What they don’t know is that they have opened the door to the game of power getting played in the new domain of cyberspace where real and virtual (cyber) space collide and the rules of trust need to be rethought. They “know everything about us” is how the game gets played.

Politics will get in the way and they will find Grete, just not alive. That is Frank’s fear. In a dizzying rush of hack and counter hack, the forces of good bring together an odd assortment of heroes. Monika learned her trade in Russia as one of the original Anons as in the Anonymous. Frank started hacking in the nineties and Jaime, now an FBI Special Agent leads the elite cyber squad from the NYC field office. The Norwegian lead investigator from KRIPOS is Fredrick Hansen who is nearing the end of his career. He remembers why it was that he had first joined. It means everything to “find Grete.”

Facebook0Twitter0Google+0LinkedIn0

eNikita is finished!

Over the last few weeks we have done a massive editing job to finish eNikita in time for our deadline this weekend (it was initially the 15. Nov). Last night we handed over the final manuscript to Amazon for publishing. We expect about 1 week until eNikita is available as paperback and Kindle eBook. In the mean time, enjoy the final version of the eNikita cover… We hope you will enjoy eNikita as much as we did writing it :-)

eNikita full cover

Facebook0Twitter0Google+8LinkedIn0

Perseguir is launched – part 1: The beginning of…

Carlos and I started on this adventure about 5 years ago during a very short meeting at Penn Station in NYC. We had met several times as members of Alcatel-Lucent. I remember that I told Carlos, I really like your book Carlos! He had just written an important book on Security. So  said to me: “We should write one together JP!”

I was  completely taken surprise.

He continued by saying “… an FBI cybercrime thriller”.

That made it easier I thought at the time (why not!) :-). Well today about 5 years later we are about to publish that very book. It is the cyber crime thriller “eNikita”, and it´s the first of what currently looks to become a trilogy.

eNikita-cover-front-page-RGB

Back to NYC and the meeting at Penn Station. Carlos and I sat there in the hubbub of all the people coming and going to catch a train or a taxi and we discussed it further. My background and “particular” computer experience from the 80´s and early 90′s, a time when the words “phreaking”, “cracking” and “hacking” were just coming into use. He felt that with his background from the US Army, the FBI and the White House (all the “legal” side) would be a perfect match with my curiously exploring computer systems (all the “gray”  side) back in the days.

Over the next years Carlos published his book “ElCapitan” under our Perseguir.com cooperation, and we are very soon ready to give you our cybercrime baby “eNikita”. Yeah baby!!!

This was the beginning of our journey. Both Carlos and I will give you more about our story over the next weeks and months, so stay tuned. Check out our blogs. BTW – I am Norwegian and I have ESL, as you say it, English as a Second Language :-) So if you see me writing funny English grammar…well, now you know where it comes from…the Land of the Vikings! Carlos was born in Colombia, but he has SSL…Spanish as a Second Language :-)

Facebook0Twitter2Google+8LinkedIn0

We find wisdom…

When we choose to explore and question… first our own motives, to find the bias in our hearts, to see it for what it is and find ways to refresh our thinking. When we seek to be better than we were yesterday and to see over the horizon with hope and optimism. When we give to others of our time and our treasures. When we serve a higher calling than our own success. When we see life in its moment and when we recognize the consequence of our actions.

If there is a central theme that is the purpose of this portal into our work it is the notion of wisdom. We live in the world of information and knowledge. But we are only at its beginning steps. Where all of this information and knowledge leads is the central theme of our storytelling. Wisdom is the tempering of knowledge – the kind that can help guide the way so that good consequences come from our actions.

It seems to me that this journey of our lives has brought us like a course charted in the heavens to this very point…where the experiences couple with the knowledge of things…acquired and stored in our brains over the years so we can engage in the telling of stories …the sharing of wisdom. That is our purpose.

Please join us in this discourse. I hope you see ,as we do, that this notion of wisdom comes not from the monologue of our own thoughts, but in the engagement of many thoughts from many other people…those shared with respect and civility. Welcome to Perseguir!

Facebook0Twitter3Google+2LinkedIn1