Viruses and cyber crime: we talk to security expert Eugene Kaspersky

We picked the brain of Kaspersky Lab’s head honcho

PCW: Then what motivated your research? Did you ever dream that there was profit to be made?

EK: Of course, no. It was just my hobby, like collecting stamps. And still, it is my hobby [laughs].

PCW: Tell us a bit more about your experience with the Cascade virus.

EK: The virus was found by an anti-virus program. I had some experience with computer code analysis, so I started to analyse this piece of software. I understood the debugger was encrypted, so I decrypted it with a special utility. I printed the listing and took it back home. With a pencil, I went through the code and worked out their routines so I could write a disinfection utility of my own ... When it worked I thought, "Hell, that's cool!"

PCW: You've been in this game for two decades now. How has the malware landscape changed in that time?

EK: It has changed several times. In the beginning there were just research viruses. The virus writers understood it was possible to develop a virus on a computer and they did this for research purposes, and to train their knowledge. Then came stupid, simple viruses written by hooligans and vandals. Next were the Trojans, computer viruses which opened the door to manage the computer. Also, vectors to send spam. This is where it began to become more commercial. Network viruses were also a big change — the first one was found in 1999. And finally, criminal malware. There are still hooligans and researchers out there, but they're not visible in the stream of crimeware.

PCW: How will your company develop further?

EK: I want this company to have a strong global presence. We're currently in the middle of this plan — we have local offices almost everywhere around the globe and we're hiring constantly new people. Now it is time to grow muscles on this skeleton.

PCW: What are the main threats facing consumers today?

EK: There are so many different threats. Trojans are like the flu, they are always with us. There are no specific threats for consumers, but threats for the whole of the Internet — global outbreaks. The Kido/Conficker botnet is an example of such a weapon.

PCW: How security conscious is the average computer user, according to your research?

EK: There is not such a thing as the average computer user. For example, kids are cleverer than parents; they understand computer systems and security much better. "Parental Control" should mean that kids control parents! [laughs]

PCW: Are there any threats that are over-hyped?

EK: Cloud security. Security in the crowd is too over hyped — it’s just the fashionable thing to talk about. It’s not new; we had it in our products last year. I think in half a year we will forget about that. It is a necessary component and it is important, but it is not so important.

PCW: Based on Kaspersky Lab’s research, what threats do you anticipate emerging in the future?

EK: Terrorist attacks. No details. [Kaspersky did not wish to elaborate further]

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