Business

AVG: Protecting users from themselves

Each week we ask high-profile technology decision-makers three questions.

Image caption AVG CTO Yuval Ben-Itzhak says protecting users from their own actions is a huge challenge

This week it is Yuval Ben-Itzhak, chief technology officer (CTO) of security technology firm AVG Technologies.

The Czech company was founded in 1991, and is now one of the big players in the security software market, with corporate offices in Europe, the US and the UK.

AVG Technologies is privately held, and is best known for its AVG anti-virus software.

What's your biggest technology problem right now?

I've been in the security business for over 15 years, working with AVG to protect users from different threats.

We use technologies from the more traditional signature-based to behaviour-based - all these fancy names for different technology, but the biggest problem at the end of the day is protecting the person from himself.

Even if we arm the person with whatever technology we have, that person can still make a different decision or take different actions. It's always a challenge - how to deal with all these scenarios where we are challenging the individual.

It's something that a lot of our effort is invested in right now.

What's the next big tech thing in your industry?

I think finally mobility is picking up. We now have all the building blocks needed to make it happen.

Mobile communication has been around for many years, but that's just one piece.

Now we have wireless communication that is affordable and accessible to everyone. We have the actual devices that can run a lot of things. We have the cloud infrastructure or the back infrastructure to enable people to store and to download stuff. And the price, of course, has become more reasonable.

So the building blocks around us are starting to mature, and now the question is, where I'm storing my data, who holds it, what's the privacy of my data?

What happens if I want to delete it, if I want to change it or move it? There's a lot of challenges there, how to deal with this mobile environment where there's multiple devices connected from different regions, and things are stored and it's not in your control any more. Someone else is storing that for you.

There are the big challenges we're seeing both in the consumer and the small-business space. They're the ones that basically lead this, what we call the mobilation of the industry.

What's the biggest technology mistake you've ever made - either at work or in your own life?

I think in the past when I looked at new technologies and solutions, I was always looking for the ones that are complex, part of big revolutions, but I think that was a mistake.

Today I also know that even small and simple technologies can make a big difference. They are no less important than the big and complex ones that are around.

Over time I learnt to appreciate and better value these kind of new technologies that are very simple and easy to understand and easy to access in the consumer market.

The complex one is not necessarily the better one.

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