In PC Authority magazine, we don’t often speak with CEOs of software security companies, especially ones based in Moscow. It’s even rarer that such people will give you candid answers to questions, but Eugene Kaspersky was a welcome exception. In a fascinating hour, he gave us the inside track on how good Microsoft security really is, leading-edge artificial intelligence, shootouts in Moscow, and what it’s like standing in the path of history’s largest electronic crime epidemic, which is going on right now.
We sought to speak with Eugene because he’s a seasoned engineer, he’s a straight shooter, and his company, Kaspersky Labs, creates some of the most respected Anti-Virus software in the world. (see our upcoming Anti-Virus comparative test
, to see how Kaspersky Internet Security 7.0
fared.) He’s also personally involved in bleeding-edge research in the vanguard of anti-virus development. In our candid interview, the only information he baulked at giving us related to secrets that could potentially assist cyber terrorists. For Eugene Kaspersky, fighting cyber-crime is obviously a very personal, passionate mission.
His war against cyber-crime began in 1989, when he personally coded an original disinfection program for a virus. The ‘Cascade’ virus had infected his computer at the research institute where he was working at the time. He immediately took direct, personal action. His innovative virus library formed the basis of a product which went on to win academic acclaim. Soon after in 1997, Eugene founded the Kaspersky Lab anti-virus company with a few trusted colleagues. From these humble beginnings, success for the Kaspersky Lab company has been steady, becoming a global brand with over 200 million users in over sixty countries. Eugene Kaspersky on programmingDespite his achievements, Eugene was self-deprecating when referring to his early programming efforts:
“As a developer I failed. Because I never wrote good code. In fact, they ignore my code now - in the actual product there are no modules written by myself. I analysed the code, I understood the trends, I knew what we needed to do to protect our customers. I’m watching the industry, the Internet criminals, the world.”What programming language do the Kaspersky Lab developers use when cutting world-beating security code?
“That depends on the need, usually it’s C++, under Visual Studio. We also develop products for Linux, Macintosh and Novell. The Anti-Virus engine itself doesn’t depend on the operating system, partly in C/C++, some parts of the engine don’t rely on the processor, some parts are written in assembler due to the system requirements.”What advice would Eugene offer to young programmers interested in doing security software development?
“First, get as good an education as is possible. Don’t be afraid of work, don’t be afraid of extra work. Don’t be afraid of extra-extra work. Spend less time relaxing and more time to educate yourself. If your hobby doesn’t help you to educate yourself, get a new one. If your girlfriend or boyfriend doesn’t help you to educate yourself, get a new one (laughs). Develop yourself. And in the future, you’ll have the benefit of that.”After kicking your significant other to the kerb, Eugene also suggests you learn Extreme Programming, a way of doing rapid programming work, popularised in recent times.
“We have two different standards of programming. In the corporate systems, it’s mostly CMM (the Capability Maturity Model). It’s an old system, there are requirements, a schedule, etcetera. For the new products, for consumer markets, it’s Extreme Programming for sure. We’ve actually made some new improvements in that area, and I’m actually thinking about writing a book about that.”