Eugene Kaspersky is the Russian entrepreneur behind the anti-virus company Kaspersky Lab. His company is known as a leader in the industry, frequently discovering important cybersecurity weaknesses.
But his Soviet upbringing and early business life inform the man he is today.
He’s now worth over billion dollars and has quite a few stories to tell…
At an early age he knew he liked maths and all things technical. By the age of 12 he was already studying advanced mathematics. His parents realised his talents early on, and had him take extracurricular classes to further excel.
He went to university in Moscow at the Institute of Cryptography, Telecommunications and Computer Science. His major was mathematical engineering, and he focused on cryptography and other computer technologies.
Despite his interest in cryptology, he decided to not pursue being a full-time cryptologist. Why? In his words, 'I wasn't clever enough to become a cryptologist.'
After he graduated, Kaspersky began work at a research institute. It was there that he first learned about the world of computer viruses. His interest was first piqued when he discovered what was known as a Cascade virus on his computer in 1989. He analysed this virus and then developed his first anti-virus disinfection program.
After leaving the research institute. he joined the JAMI Information Technologies center to develop an anti-virus program. This program -- called AVP -- set the groundwork for what Kaspersky Anti-Virus would become.
During the early '90s, while he was developing the AVP, he also served as an officer in the Soviet Army.
In 1997, he decided to make his own anti-virus company. He co-founded it with his now ex-wife Natalya.
Kaspersky first called his product AVP, and it was widely considered one of the better anti-virus programs on the market. But an American man registered the AVP trademark. This significantly hurt Kaspersky's business at the time. But, in 2000, he officially changed the name of his product to Kaspersky Anti-Virus, which is what it remains to this day.
In the late '90s, there were few good anti-virus programs. So Kaspersky's product began to gain real traction. 'At the time, the software market was very small, and we had almost zero sales, but we used every opportunity for income. I recognised that it was possible to earn money from anti-virus software when I first saw companies starting to suffer from virus,' he told Info Security Magazine.
And Kaspersky Lab brings in some exceptional employees who are known for nabbing the most threatening malware around. Kaspersky hired the researcher known for discovering Stuxnet, the virus that destroyed Iranian centrifuges. This helped Kaspersky discover another Stuxnet-like worm called Flame in 2012.
In 2012, his son was kidnapped and held for ransom. Thankfully, in the end, the 20-year-old was released unharmed.
Given the strength of his anti-virus product, the booming industry, and his own business finesse, Kaspersky is now worth more than $1 billion.
He also loves race car driving, and even had Kaspersky Lab sponsor a race car in the Formula One Grand Prix -- although he admits that he drives a BMW M3.
Even with his fortune, travels, and personal interests, Kaspersky makes frequent public appearances and is known to speak at industry conferences.
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