INTERVIEW: Avast bought AVG for £1bn last year so it can gain access to 1 in 3 PCs around the world and build new security tools
IoT and ransomware
Avast 2017 also has a ‘Wi-Fi Inspector’ feature that scans networks for infected devices, something which could protect against IoT threats.
Vlcek says router manufacturers aren’t doing enough on this front. Indeed, the US government’s unprecedented step of taking legal action against D-Link over alleged router flaws would suggest there is a problem, while up to 31 Netgear routers were also found to be vulnerable to a remote access flaw.
Vlcek wants to work with manufacturers and Avast released Chime to act as a form of router protection.
“Ideally we would be on the router directly so we can monitor them in real time but for that you we would have to work with the manufacturers,” he explains. “We feel they aren’t equipped. They feel it’s something they need to do.”
Avast and AVG
Avast only completed the takeover of AVG in October, but has already released the first AVG product based on the Avast platform and Avast 2017 has several AVG features. It even has ‘Passive mode’ which allows Avast and AVG to run on the same system.
Vlcek likens it to Volkswagen and Audi cars sharing the same engine but possessing different chassis. There are also regional strengths of each brand. For example, he says AVG is stronger in the UK but Avast is more dominant in France.
But the Avast brand is one that Vlcek’s career is intertwined with.
“I started at Avast 21 years ago in 1995 as a part time developer,” he recalls. “I wrote the first version of Avast for Windows 95 and after I completed my studies I took the role as a software engineer and eventually became CTO 12 years ago.”
The company opened its new Prague headquarters last year but his core engineering team remains in the Czech Republic. ESET is in nearby Slovakia, Bitdefender is a bit further afield in Romania and Kaspersky Lab and Dr Web are in Russia. Of course all of these countries are different but why is this part of the world producing so many cybersecurity firms?
“There are quite a few vendors in central and eastern Europe,” replies Vlcek. “People ask why, but I think it’s a combination of good education, especially in cybersecurity, some creativity and practical approach. It’s a great place to do this kind of stuff.”
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