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Q&A with Travis Witteveen, CEO, Avira Antivirus, who discusses the challenges faced by the security industry

Q&A

Q:        What are the largest threats for Internet users today?

A:        Malware continues to be the largest threat Internet users are facing today. We see the main challenges to include the exponentially increasing volume of threats, the equally exponentially-increasing number of potentially vulnerable devices in user’s homes, and, in turn, the ways to enable users to enjoy and use the power of the Internet to its fullest without exposing them to the complexity of the solutions required.

Fortunately, we see a significant increase in complementary services based on protecting users’ privacy – among them password managers and VPNs.

Q:       Do you find antivirus and security companies are taking sufficient measures to protect users?

A:        Protecting users’ security and privacy requires companies to address a very complex problem in an easy-to-manage solutions, and the costs are rising. The market is naturally growing very fast. It’d be wrong for companies not to invest in quality and security, but sadly it happens all the time. Only too often we see users relying only on a certain subset of applications to keep them safe, rather than a full suite or complete combination of products, such as anti-virus, software-updaters, VPNs, password managers, registry and trace cleaners, privacy settings managers, and so on.

Q:        There have been recent instances of attacks on antivirus companies; is this a growing trend?

A:        Any company that has a large user base – whether an operating system vendor (Microsoft, Apple, Google) or software applications vendor (Adobe, Avast, Avira, etc.) – is constantly under threat and attack from hackers.

For protection, it’s important to find a partner you trust. Measurement of that trust is based on the speed with which your partner detects an attack and resolves it, the transparency around handling the threat and how this may have affected external parties, potential negligence by the vendor and follow-up support in preventing a similar attack in the future.

Q:       There were also recent instances of wireless security cameras being remotely activated and manipulated by hackers. Is this trend that might continue, too?

A:        The challenge with many low-cost Internet-connected devices is that their vendors invest in them only so much, and the limited time-window when they will fix issues before the next version is released. This makes the older devices unprotected after a certain period of time.

We approach this challenge by putting technology on the network routers similar to that of PCs. The partnership with TP-Link enables us to constantly monitor the health, security and privacy issues of all the devices a home might have.

Q:        Is the industry likely to ever eliminate hacker and malware attacks?

A:        Unfortunately, no. Hackers will continue to attack our online lives, but what’s changing is the goals of the attackers, and the types of devices that are vulnerable. We see many more risks with smart IoT devices today. In addition, hackers are shifting from traditional malware attacks on an individual device to more sophisticated attacks targeting users’ activity data.

Interview prepared by Justinas Baltrusaitis, PreciseSecurity.com

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