Who protects your smartphone from cybercrooks?
Filip Chytrý, an analyst in the avast! Virus Lab will Declare war against Android Malware, together with his colleague, Peter Kalnai, at the 8th International CARO Workshop held in Melbourne, Florida this week. CARO (Computer Antivirus Research Organization) is a technical gathering of malware experts from around the world who share case studies of mobile attacks, do real life attack demonstrations, and present plans for the identification and investigation of coordinated mobile threats.
Along with his specialized knowledge in Android malware, Filip is a really fun guy. I asked him a few questions, so that you could meet one of the AVAST professionals directly responsible for keeping tens of millions of Android smartphone users safe from threats.
DEBORAH Thanks for taking time during your preparations for CARO to meet our users via the AVAST blog. Your job analyzing Android-targeted malware didn't even exist when you were a little boy. What early experiences with technology influenced your career path?
FILIP Define early. :) I've been addicted to PCs since childhood. I had my very first PC when I was 8 years old; some old piece of junk which was at that time probably older than I, but I still have remarkable memories of that time. So from that time on, I was influenced by technology. Even in my leisure activities, I concentrated on PCs. I went on to graduate from the School of Applications Cybernetics in Hradec Králové in Czech Republic.
DEBORAH Protecting people's desktop computers is how AVAST started, and now we've added free mobile security to our product offerings. How do we teach people to keep their smartphones and tablets safe just like their computers?
FILIP Most people still do not realize that their smartphones actually have more computing power and abilities than the computer they had in their homes five-ten years ago. The capabilities of their devices are incredible. Data in portable devices may say more about you than data from your PC. You have location data there, pictures, social media information and so on.
So the first step for users is to realize this data should be treasured and secured. Your whole life could walk off in a thief's pocket. I haven’t even mentioned threats like malware - Premium SMS senders, data stealers, ransomware and so on, which might wait on them out there. That causes even bigger concerns. With that concern comes the need for a security solution.
DEBORAH Speaking of bigger concerns - The upcoming CARO conference has a lot of presentations on financial malware. How do you keep up with the constant evolution?
FILIP Stay tuned for our presentation. It's not a final solution but it should improve detection rates and reaction times to be capable of reacting on those and other threats effectively.
DEBORAH What’s the most serious threat that you have seen so far?
FILIP There were a couple of big ones last year; the “Android master key vulnerability" which can be used to bypass signature verification to gain full access to a device. Then there’s the Zitmo mobile malware to pass mobile transaction authentification number, and plenty of others. If I have to choose one it will be probably be the master key vulnerability.
DEBORAH What project or initiative are you most excited about in 2014?
FILIP That one I can't talk to you about now, but it is my own project which should be released in the next few months, and it has something to do with Avast. :)
DEBORAH AVAST is hiring lots of new professionals this year. What would you advise young fans who want to work for the avast! Virus Lab to study. What kind of courses do they need to take or degree should they get?
FILIP You might be surprised but it's not about a degree but about what you know. Definitely a knowledge of programing, disassembling, and friendly manners are top priorities. The rest depends on the position you are applying for. I think for a job like this you have to be a bit of a geek. :)
DEBORAH Filip, with your days occupied by fighting malware, what keeps you up at night? Does anything scare you?
FILIP Honestly, I'm scared only from surgery when I'm not able to see what they doing. But that should not be published.
DEBORAH That sounds like you want to be in control.
FILIP Yes. So it can be translated as I always need to know what's going on.
DEBORAH Describe your “dream day” out of the office.
FILIP Space travel? Hopefully one day... Or at least I like to stay somewhere where can I be totally offline for a while. Even though I love computers and being in the middle of the action, I like to have a break for a while and having some time just for myself and friends is always the best.
DEBORAH What’s your superpower, Filip?
FILIP Well, I would like to say something like superheroes always say -"I can fly," but unfortunately it's fiction. Probably what I can consider as my superpower is to help people improve their security, but it‘s not only my thing, it‘s about the whole avast! Virus lab team. Actually, the whole AVAST Software team!
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