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[IGNITE ’18] Up Close with the Experts – Paula J’s Interview with Mark Russinovich

In this wonderfully affirmative chat-nugget from Ignite 2018, Paula Januszkiewicz and fellow Microsoft Community Reporters Raymond Comvalius and Rik Hepworth interview Microsoft Azure CTO Mark Russinovich about Azure Blockchain Workbench, hiking trips, and how Rack Scale Design is likely to shape the way servers look in the future.

Mark Russinovich is a Chief Technology Officer of Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform. He is a widely recognized expert in distributed systems and operating systems.

Mark earned a Ph.D. in computer engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and he joined Microsoft when it acquired Winternals Software, which he co-founded in 1996.

Besides, Mark Russinovich is the author of three cyberthrillers, Zero Day, Trojan Horse and Rogue Code, co-author of the Microsoft Press Windows Internals books, and co-author of the Sysinternals Administrator’s Reference.

Mark Russinovich’s Tools and Discovers

In 1996, Russinovich discovered that altering two values in the Windows Registry of the Workstation edition of Windows NT 4 would change the installation so it was recognized as a Windows NT Server and allow the installation of Microsoft BackOffice products which were licensed only for the Server edition. The registry key values were guarded by a worker thread to detect tampering, and later a program called NT Tune was released to kill the monitor thread and change the values.

Russinovich wrote LiveKD, a utility included with CD Inside Windows 2000, 3rd Edition.

In 2005, Russinovich discovered the Sony rootkit in Sony DRM products. Its function was to prevent users from copying their media.

In January 2006, Russinovich discovered a rootkit in Norton SystemWorks by Symantec Corporation. Symantec directly removed the rootkit. He also analyzed the Windows Metafile vulnerability and concluded that it was not a deliberate backdoor. This possibility had been raised – albeit tentatively – by Steve Gibson after a cursory investigation of the nature of the exploit and its mechanism.

Mark’s Books and Publications

Russinovich’s novels Zero Day (foreword by Howard Schmidt) and Trojan Horse (foreword by Kevin Mitnick) were published by Thomas Dunne Books on March 15, 2011 and September 4, 2012. Both are in a series of popular techno-thrillers, that have attracted praise from industry insiders such as Mikko Hypponen and Daniel Suarez. A short story, “Operation Desolation” was published just before Trojan Horse and takes place 1 year after the events of Zero Day. Book 3, Rogue Code: A Novel (Jeff Aiken Series, May 2014) deals with vulnerabilities of the NYSE. It has a foreword by Haim Bodek, author of The Problem of HFT: Collected Writings on High Frequency Trading & Stock Market Structure Reform.

Apart from that, Mark is a featured speaker at major industry conferences, including Microsoft TechEd, RSA Conference, BlackHat and BUILD.

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