We are happy to announce that our Facebook fan page for avast! antivirus has reached a whopping 300,000 fans! :)
The second half of 2011 got off to a great start for AVAST Software (even if it was rough in terms of Prague’s “summer” weather, which been more like an out-of-place autumn). We began the third quarter with a record 165 million user registrations and (not long after launching our avast! Free Antivirus for Mac beta) in July we launched our new business security line. As for what’s next, CNET’s Seth Rosenblatt give a preview of our other upcoming security solutions here.
In other news, research by the AVAST Virus Lab uncovered an alarming trend in Adobe Reader version usage and a surprising percentage of Microsoft XP-based rootkits.
When I emailed the entire AVAST team about nominations for co-workers that they would want to see interviewed, I saw/heard “Vladimír Černík” more than any other name. It turns out that Vladimir was one of the first people ever hired by AVAST founders Eduard Kučera and Pavel Baudiš, more than 20 years ago. It's enough of an accomplishment, in modern times, to work 20 years in one place… but to watch a company grow from almost nothing... to over 150 team members, with more than 160 million users of your product… that’s truly amazing.
In the comments below, please join us in offering Vladimír Černík a warm congratulations on his 20 years with AVAST Software. – Jason Mashak
1. You’ve been at AVAST longer than anyone aside from the founders (about 20 years?)… how was it for you in the beginning, and why have you stayed so long?
I don’t remember exactly how it happened. I started as an assembler programmer, then I was programming databases for a while, and eventually I was helping (avast! co-founder) Pavel Baudis with the viruses. At the time I didn’t know a thing about viruses and I was gaining all my experience hands-on. And of course a couple of times I managed to massively infect my computer.
It was back in the good old days of DOS. There weren’t so many viruses around like nowadays, when you are cluttered up with thousands of new virus samples daily.
From the time I started at AVAST Software, I began hearing the name "Bob" a lot, but never saw the guy, and his handle on the avast! Forum – "bob3160" – sounded to me like some new industry buzz word, a new kind of machine that would change the way we all live. When I finally asked someone about "Bob," I was shocked. "He's one of our biggest fans on the user forum, and he helps us with a lot of stuff in the US." Bob ranks third on the avast! Forum in terms of post count, with over 15,000 as of this writing (about 4,000 posts ahead of our CTO, Ondrej Vlcek). I began to laugh that the 'avast! secret weapon' might be a retiree in the southwestern desert of the USA. :)
Early in 2011, Bob and some other avast! Forum "Evangelists" came to visit us in Prague, and I think we were all affected in some way by his positive demeanor, charismatic personality, warm heart, and sincerity. It made me think that, yes, it's "bob3160" and others like him who are indeed the avast! secret weapons. It was an honor to interview Bob, and we hope he returns soon to visit us in Prague. – Jason Mashak
1. How long have you been using avast! antivirus solutions and how influential would you say avast! Forum members have been in their development?
I first discovered avast! in 2003 while looking for a replacement for Norton, which at that time was using my computer more than I was.
After testing quite a few alternatives, I finally settled on avast! since the protection it offered was excellent and it wasn't a system hog like the others.
It actually allowed me to gain access to my computer again, something I really had not enjoyed for some time. :)
2. In terms of innovative practices, can you think of any other product or service that has such a feeling of ‘community’ and user-co-development as that fostered by AVAST?
I honestly can't – and I do belong to several other forums, even though my involvement with the other forums I frequent isn't the same as it is with the Avast forum. I consider the Avast Forum my home away from home.
In 2010, AVAST noticed that the majority of malware infections were occurring via infected websites, rather than from malicious email, which had previously been the main culprit.
But good criminals go where they are least expected.
A couple weeks ago I posted an example of a type of phishing email that I've since learned is called 'vishing', as it uses voice (VoIP, telephone) as an agent in the scam process. (It reminds me of a public payphone I had to use in Mexico about 10 years ago, which billed me something around $80 for a five-minute call.) :)
An example of a phishing email I received today, which at first glance appeared to be a legitimate email from a friend, except for a Gmail warning at the top:
My first couple times meeting Chris Cantoro, I didn’t know what to think of him but, compared to the Czech personalities I most often work with, I initially thought he was ‘arrogant’. After a few months, however, I had the opportunity to work with him more on various projects, and I discovered that what I’d initially (mis)perceived about him was actually more of an extroverted confidence. As a ‘foreigner’ myself in Czech lands, I started to suspect that his native Italy was somehow involved. ;-) The more I’ve gotten to know Chris, the more I’ve appreciated the worldly humor and relaxed energy he brings to our work environment. (BTW, the name ‘Cantoro’ means ‘Singer’ in English, and he can sing in five languages.) – Jason Mashak
1. The general public is often confused about how AVAST remains stable with a ‘freemium‘ model as our flagship product – can you explain how that works?
Everybody has a PC at home, in most cases more than one. We offer a FREE solution for domestic users as we believe everybody has the right to enjoy Internet and at the same time to be protected. If people are happy with our FREE product, then they will consider it also for their business, and they will buy it. Our key marketing strategy has been that the best way to show people we have the best product... is to offer it for free.
According to the Prague International Marathon (PIM) website, “If you like discovering the undiscovered, running alongside a river and meandering through the heart of a medieval capital city, then the Volkswagen Prague Marathon is for you.”
Several AVAST Software team members apparently like those sorts of things enough that they ran 42km in the 2011 Volkswagen Prague Marathon, which began and ended at Prague's historic Old Town Square on May 8, 2011.
avast! Virus Lab… I once went to their floor accidentally, thinking it was my floor – it was dark and scary, and so I quickly turned and ran out. These folks are like mad scientists, practicing alchemy in white laboratory coats that are stained with hard-drive smoke and smell of burnt ones & zeros. They’re mostly nocturnal – like cyborgian vampires – and yet they’re always awake, online and available for ‘chat’ or email, even in daylight.
Or at least that’s partly the stereotype I had when I started at AVAST. After meeting and talking with a few "virus guys" at a company party, I realized they’re like every other department here… but just a little more reclusive… and thus maybe a 'typical' IT crowd. See here for yourself, as this interview is with a guy whose blog posts get a lot of traffic (even though someone of my IT ‘capabilities’ rarely understands anything he writes about). –Jason Mashak
1. You started at AVAST about 6 years ago, while still attending university – what was it like already working for a top antivirus provider while still a student?
I was a young chemistry student (which seems removed from IT, but even AVAST co-founder Pavel Baudis studied the same subject, at the same university :)) with no previous job experience or references. Most of the aspects of IT (including reverse engineering, programming in various languages, cryptography, etc.) were my hobby, and thus it was no problem to work for ALWIL [former name of AVAST Software, until 2010]. I had no clue what the business was about – it took me roughly a year to fully understand how a two-person project could become a successful company
You've been asking for it... so here it is: As of the latest update to our avast! 6.0 series (earlier this week), avast! WebRep is now available in the Google Chrome browser. ;)
avast! WebRep is based on information received from the global avast! user community related to the content and security of visited websites.