How did the world’s largest privately-held vendor of endpoint protection and cybersecurity solutions company start? In this executive interview, we look at the success of Eugene Kaspersky, world-renowned cybersecurity expert, entrepreneur and Chairman & CEO of Kaspersky Lab.
He began his career in cyber security accidentally when his computer became infected with the “Cascade” virus in 1989.
His specialized education in cryptography helped him analyze the encrypted virus and understand its behavior and then develop a removal tool for it.
As a result, in 1990, Eugene started gathering a team of like-minded enthusiastic researchers to create the AVP Toolkit Pro antivirus program.
Four years later, the University of Hamburg recognized this as the most effective antivirus software in the world.
Then, in 1997 Kaspersky Lab was founded, with Eugene heading the company’s antivirus research.
Tell us a bit about how you started and highlights of your career.
I started my career in IT security, accidentally. It was in the last days of the Soviet Union, and after university I worked at a military research institute as a software engineer.
In 1989, when I was 24, I found the Cascade virus on my computer, and developed an application to disinfect it.
After that, collecting computer malware, studying it and fighting it became my hobby, and later — my profession and my business.
In 1991 I joined a private company with my own antivirus project. It was a time when the global IT security industry was still in its infancy.
My goal was to create the best antivirus in the world, and in 1997 I founded — along with several partners — my own company, the one which I continue to lead today.
Now we’re fully global, operating in every single region in the world, and employing more than three thousand people.
If you could advise your 20-year-old self today, what would you tell him?
I think I’d just leave him to it! Learning from personal experience and making mistakes and using them as lessons — that’s what I think is vital in achieving something in life.
That, maybe plus insatiable curiosity and hunger for knowledge, persistence, and never giving up!
As for me today, yes, I’ve done OK — because I made my fair share of errors. It’s impossible to have a full life without them, so why spoil the ride?
And anyway, giving advice to young people is quite often not really worthwhile as they tend to ignore it and choose to do things their own way.
However, the vindication is inevitable: young people will get older, get full of wisdom they want to share with the next generation, who will not pay much attention and choose their own way once again.
What has been the most valuable advice you’ve ever gotten when you were faced with challenges in your career?
I’ve always been open to discussion and hearing other opinions, but I don’t think there was a single piece of advice that made me change the general direction of what I was doing.
What would you advise those who are looking to take their careers to the next level?
There are many qualities that can help building a stronger career but each person is unique, so there’s no point in telling an introvert to hit more parties and mix with as many folks as possible to build more networks.
I think it’s very important to know your particular strengths, adapt them to a particular goal, and to go after it without fear of making mistakes, without fear of failure, and to just keep at it.
And never stop learning, not just through formal education programs, but from any complex situation in life and from other people. Just look around and take notice: life’s classroom is everywhere!