Protect yourself

Cybersecurity expert Eugene Kaspersky advises fraud conference attendees to invest in technology and support

By Emily Primeaux

"Russian software engineers are the best. Not my words. Condoleezza Rice told me that," said cybersecurity expert, Eugene Kaspersky, at the recent 2015 ACFE European Fraud Conference. He said that Rice and he were on a panel at another conference. "I said, ‘I 100 percent agree with you!' So Russian software engineers are the best, but at the same time Russian criminals, ah, it's the other side of the coin."

Kaspersky, CEO and co-founder of Kaspersky Lab Russia, began his career in cybersecurity accidentally when his computer became infected with the "Cascade" virus in 1989. Kaspersky's specialized education in cryptography helped him analyze the encrypted virus, understand its behavior and then develop a removal tool for it.

After successfully removing the virus, Kaspersky's curiosity and passion for computer technology drove him to begin analyzing more malicious programs and developing disinfection modules for them. This exotic collection of antivirus modules would eventually become the foundation for Kaspersky Lab's antivirus database. Today the database is one of the most comprehensive and complete collections in cybersecurity — detecting and preventing systems from being infected by more than 100 million malicious programs.

Kaspersky, a world-renowned cybersecurity expert and successful entrepreneur, spoke with attendees March 23 at the ACFE Conference in London about the cyber landscape today and what needs to be done to thwart cybercriminals' attacks.

He began his keynote address by dividing the definition of a cyberthreat into three categories: cybercrime (with three subcategories), espionage and cybersabotage.


Criminals to consumers (C2C)

Kaspersky said the crooks who operate the C2C schemes are a main source of financial fraud as they infect millions of computers around the world. Most of them speak several different languages and can be found in any country. They are getting stronger and are attacking increasingly more consumers, he said.

Additionally, these criminals are rapidly exploiting mobile spaces because few consumers seemed to be concerned about the security of their smartphones and tablets. "Five years ago, 10 years ago, we had hundreds of mobile malware attacks a year, and now we collect hundreds of thousands of unique attacks on mobile phones," said Kaspersky.

Kaspersky said criminals mostly go after Android devices, but no operating system is 100 percent safe. iPhones and iPads might be more secure, but they have their own vulnerabilities, and well-educated cybercriminals are beginning to break through these systems.

Criminals to business (C2B)

Perpetrators in the C2B subcategory design professional, highly complicated and targeted attacks. And most of them speak Russian. "Professional criminals, some of them, they are even more smart — they don't attack victims, they develop and trade technologies to other criminals," Kaspersky said. "This group of people [can] actually [be] called C2C, criminals to criminals. They provide criminal services. Cybercrime as a service."

Organized crime, crime to the cyberspace

Kaspersky said this "traditional mafia" subcategory have no clue how to design cyberattacks, so they employ crooked software engineers and hackers to attack organizations around the world.


Kaspersky compared cyberespionage to the world of James Bond, except these criminals aren't in the field — they're behind keyboards, which simplifies their jobs.

According to Kaspersky, these criminals don't just steal data — they also modify some of it so victims can no longer trust it.


Kapersky said this is the worst cyberthreat. He explained that cybersaboteurs use professional tools and technologies to kill computer systems, not just to cripple them or steal data. They attack telecommunications, critical financial data and physical infrastructures such as industrial networks (e.g, power grids).

Kaspersky cited the telecommunications attack that caused the 2007 Estonian Internet blackout. Cybercriminals shut down Estonia's state (and some private) websites with "denial of service" attacks by bombarding them with bogus requests for information.

However, Kaspersky fears financial services will become one of the largest victims of cybersabotage. He covered tools and techniques that organizations should use to prevent cyberattack threats:

  • Protect critical data using new technologies.
  • Only run trusted applications or applications that you download from a trusted updater.
  • Invest in system administrators and IT jobs to manage these systems. Secure operating systems will help protect industrial infrastructure.

Kaspersky finished with a call to action: "The systems must be protected so well that the attack has to be more expensive than the possible damage."

He said cybersecurity has improved, but we need to invest more in technologies and products to protect consumers.

Don't miss your chance to hear great speakers like Kaspersky and ACFE Guardian Award winner Brian Krebs, who will be speaking at the 26th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference June 14-19 in Baltimore, Maryland!

Emily Primeaux is assistant editor of Fraud Magazine. 

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