Mr. Cybersecurity rings the alarm bell
In dialogue with the CEO of Kaspersky Lab
Eugene Kaspersky is one of the best-known experts worldwide for cybersecurity. His job? The fight against cyber criminality. He calls himself paranoid — by which he means, one’s grasp of the concept of the private sphere will soon, in the era of big data, be quite different.
Is our data safe?
Faced with the question, Eugene Kaspersky also does not have a simple answer — and has to first expand on the topic. “We benefit from the beauty of the cyber world. Technology works faster, communications are very quick, people enjoy it.” But he also says, “There are security issues.” Fighting the problem is his job and his calling. In 1997, Kaspersky founded the internationally operating IT security company, Kaspersky Lab. In the meantime, his company is the first port of call when, somewhere in the world, large scale cyberattacks have to be counteracted.
450 billion euro
The cost of the annual fight against cyber criminality, according to Kaspersky.
Kaspersky’s personal goal? The unhackable world. "We are working on making cybersystems unhackable in our definitions. That means, a hack is more expensive than the possible damage. I know it’s possible to reach this level of immunity. Technical speaking, we have to get to where hacking has no value.”
But there’s still a long way to go. Kaspersky warns that cybersecurity is becoming jeopardized to a greater degree because cybercriminals are making themselves more professional. It’s why he is demanding an education offensive. According to Kaspersky, children in Russia have computer lessons in regular schools from as early as 10-years old. For him, it is the main reason why there are so many good programmers in the country. “And the cybersecurity guys are also the best,” says Kaspersky, who lives in Moscow. He puts himself forward as a good example of this. His conclusion: “Please invest more in cyber education. Teaching computer science in universities is too late; you have to start in schools.” Kaspersky sees an enormous problem that has to be fought on a national scale.
Kaspersky is far less worried by the diminishing private sphere in the big data wave. “Digitalization isn’t making the world safer or more insecure.” Whether “private” will continue to exist at all in the future is a generation question for him. “Kids now, they’re born in a cyber time. So, they’re completely free.” For his generation, the next generation’s understanding of privacy is about as strange as the customs practiced in a German sauna to a foreigner, said Kaspersky, alluding to its nudist tradition.
Malware samples between 1986 and 2006 in the Kaspersky Lab database.
Malware samples on average every week in 2017 in the Kaspersky Lab database.
Kaspersky therefore wants to say, what is new and strange for one person is normal for another. He himself does not want to isolate himself from privacy — and secures himself in a highly analogue way. “I am in cybersecurity for almost 30 years. And for cybersecurity guys, the professional disease is paranoia. Every time I type or speak on the phone I know there is a risk — low but not zero — that someone is listening or watching what I am typing. So simply don’t do the things you don’t want to be disclosed. That’s my rule.”
An interview with cybersecurity expert Eugene Kaspersky
Eugene Kaspersky, 53
The definition of hacker has two meanings: firstly, the researchers who want to learn more about the systems and then the bad guys, the criminals.
In 1997, he founded Kaspersky Lab in Moscow, an IT security company that today employees around 4000 people in 31 countries around the world. More than 400 million consumers and 270 corporate clients use Kaspersky software to safeguard their computers. Critics claim Kaspersky has far closer links to Russian leaders than he himself admits. In the US his products are forbidden on government computers. Kaspersky Lab is suing the US Department of Homeland Security, arguing that the American government has deprived it of due process rights by banning its software from US government agencies.
As far as Eugene Kaspersky is concerned, too little is being done in many places for cybersecurity. It is however something that has to be dealt with on a national scale. The diminishing private sphere is less worrying.