This is the second part of the interview with Eugene Kaspersky, Head of Kaspersky labs (For the first part, click here). In this part, He talks about the Israeli information security industry, his company’s future and he even shares his thoughts about some of the big names in the cyber field.
Can you elaborate about the new directions of Kaspersky Lab?
We are very concerned about critical infrastructure security and about the threat of attacks against industrial systems. This is why one of our priorities now is to develop and deploy an exploit-proof secure operating system – one to protect key industrial control systems. This is probably one of the several directions that we find critically important for our development and in the evolution of the threat landscape, but by no means is it the only one. Of course, we continue to improve our products both for retail and for the enterprise market and add new features to them.
As founder and CEO – What are your targets for Kaspersky Lab? Where do you see the company in 3-5 years?
I see the company as a global leader in IT security which is providing its customers with best-in-class protection and making a significant contribution to the global fight against all sorts of evil in cyberspace. And saving the world, of course, ultimately.
This is why we are co-operating closely with numerous law enforcement agencies all over the world to tackle cybercrime and are helping Interpol establish its cyber-division.
What is your view of the Israeli market, as clients of security products?
The Israeli market is not an easy one, but success here is very valuable because competition is tough. The country is located in a very volatile region and has complex relations with its neighbors, which means that it has to pay special attention to the threat of cyber-sabotage attacks, including on industrial systems, telecommunications and the banking sector.
The Israeli government is very well aware of threats and challenges coming from the cyber domain, and I’d say that they understand more than anyone in the world the importance of top-level cyber protection for critical business and state institutions.
What is your view of the Israeli market bearing in mind that we are a country with more than 200 cyber start-ups?
Israel has very good software engineers and a strong environment for hi-tech startups. It is an advanced country in terms of understanding the scale of cyberthreats. And we are watching closely many promising Israeli start-ups; some of them may become very significant players in the global IT market. I find it very admirable how Israel is creating incentives for young talented people to start their own hi-tech businesses, to innovate. I think it’s a good way to foster technological progress and economic development.
Contrary to other companies in this market, you don’t grow externally by acquiring other companies. What is the reason for that?
Are you going to acquire relevant companies in the future? And if so, in what specific field?
I’ve never said we’re not going to acquire anyone. We would if we understand that buying a company is really worth the money we’d pay. Growing by acquisitions creates several difficulties. First of all, integrating software developed externally into our products and solutions is a costly and lengthy process, comparable to developing similar solutions in-house in terms of money and time. Second, there is an issue of integrating the team we’re acquiring. And finally, buying technology tells our engineers that we cannot do it well enough ourselves, which is not true, and is a bad incentive for the team. We know that we can make the best solutions in the world and take pride in this.
Who do you regard as your competitors? Security firms such as Symantec, Intel- McAfee, Trend Micro or the big IT companies with security products such as Dell, HP, IBM, EMC?
At this point we compete with the other largest security vendors – including Symantec, Intel-McAfee and Trend Micro. We’re not in a direct competition with the large IT companies such as IBM or EMC.
What is your view about the MGFW fight between Palo Alto and Checkpoint?
I hope that the next-generation firewalls will be much better than the ones we’re currently using. And once again, competition drives the creation of some great products.
What are your recommendations to CISO’s in general and Israeli CISO’s in particular?
You should beware and be ready for targeted attacks. You must have several layers of defense. It’s always helpful to combine machines with different operating systems – Linux and Windows for example. Companies should remember that their IT systems should be built to be resilient to attacks. And, well, companies should be prepared for the worst – for a successful attack against them, for data to be stolen or destroyed.
How do you see the Kaspersky Lab’s office and activity in Israel?
We are running successful operations in Israel, we sponsor cyber security conferences here. At the moment we are considering launching an R&D center in Israel because there are so many good engineers in the country. I believe in a very bright future for us in Israel.
And finally, maybe you’ll care to comment on any other topic?
The Israeli market is extremely interesting – and complicated: plenty of startups, competitors, attacks and challenges. Even though we opened our office not so long ago, we are already well known in the market. That’s just one more bit of proof that Israelis are very well aware of the importance of cyber defense and constantly monitor what’s going on in the cyber world.