Eugene Kaspersky gave an excitable talk to a packed hall of mostly stone-faced delegates at CeBIT 2014 today.
Despite playing to a tough crowd, he ploughed through and offered a vision of a world where government agencies and law enforcement cooperated to fight a threat without borders and international boundaries.
"I like the global world," Kaspersky said. "I like a world where we share our projects, share our knowledge – not a world that's fragmented. We live in the 21st Century, and I don't want to go back to the 19th Century. With cyber espionage, I think we have a very real danger of going back."
At times, though, his Utopian vision was undermined by frustration at persistent security failings. He looked like he wanted to tear out his hair when he exclaimed: "Now even the computers in the nuclear power plants are connected to the Internet!"
He did however offer some novel solutions to enterprise security problems.
"How to protect your enterprise from a Stuxnet attack? Simple," Eugene assured the passive crowd. "You have your power plant, and you're running on Linux, say. So you have your operating systems, and you have your Internet connected devices, both on Linux. How to protect it? Put Windows between them. So you have to copy all your files from Linux back into Windows, then back into Linux again. There's no guarantee, of course, but it will make cyber espionage much more expensive, much more difficult."
"Governments must introduce very strict security regimes for critical infrastructure," Kaspersky told the CeBIT crowd. "Cybercrime doesn't have borders, it doesn't have checkpoints, so governments have to cooperate. We have to do more together."
He was also unequivocal about the need for non-proliferation of cyber weapons.
"Governments also need to make cyber weapons illegal," he said. "Cyber weapons are the most dangerous innovation of this century."
However, the new age had brought about more benefits than it had brought in dangers, he said.
"Do we want to go back to the pre-Internet world? No way!" he said.
There were of course moments when his affable, larger-than-life personal style clashed with the muted tone of the event.
When asked, "Who do you fear more, cyber criminals or the NSA?" Kaspersky laughed uproariously, but refused to answer the question for a little while. Eventually, he came out with a fairly non-committal answer.
"I am a paranoid computer security expert. I do my best to keep my mind switched on. But every time I turn on my computer, I think 'someone could be watching'. Every computer system is vulnerable. Every notebook has this capability. I'm paranoid, but we'll survive! I promise!"
Following that, he got off the stage pretty quickly.
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