Today we discuss modern cyber security, design and new devices with the folks from Kaspersky.
— Hi guys, let's start by introducing ourselves.
Hello! My name is Nikita Morozov, I’m Head of Design at Kaspersky. My team plays a key part in Kaspersky's global marketing chain and we are mainly involved in creating and implementing concepts for visual communications at the international level. The team includes almost 20 people: designers, managers, art directors. Our main tasks are the development of the brand visual identity and design service for internal clients.
Our annual workflow counts about 1500 projects, from the guides and templates for communications development to the design for events and exhibitions. The main task is to consistently convey all necessary (and sometimes very complex) messages in the most beautiful way. To do this, we create design standards, develop a design culture in the company, and lead by example to show how to design things right.
— And a few words about the company, please.
We are a global company, with a vision to work all over the world and a significant focus on international markets. We operate in 200 countries and territories. Our mission is to build a safer world and we’ve been doing that for more than 25 years. At Kaspersky, we believe in a tomorrow where technology improves our lives.
Currently, cybersecurity is about more than just protecting devices, it's about developing an ecosystem where everything’s connected through technology that is immune to cyber threats. That’s why we have moved beyond the anti-virus laboratory to provide cybersecurity technology that people can trust.
— Your products have about 400 million users worldwide. That's more than the whole population of the US. Phenomenal!
That’s right. We are impressively innovating, and always trying to deliver protection that’s effective, usable and accessible. We pride ourselves on developing world-leading security that keeps us – and every one of our 400 million users, including 220,000 B2B clients – protected by our technologies, one step ahead of potential threats.
— Let's start with safety, then. Previously, this issue concerned mostly PCs for domestic usage. Viruses that could be picked up from a floppy disk and then from a file on the Internet, for example. Currently, it is much more serious, as we have mobile and smart devices, smart homes and other systems on which we depend. Tell us about the trends of the latest 5-10 years in cyber defence.
Over the recent period, there has been a notable upsurge in cyber threats. For instance, in 2019, we witnessed an approximate daily collection of 300,000 distinct malicious files. By this year, this number had surged dramatically to an astonishing 400,000 new and unique malicious files each day, which becomes a cause for concern.
To add more context, while people read this interview, we would have already collected 4,500 malicious files. This sheer volume underscores the seriousness of the situation.
For the last several years, cybersecurity has become “topic du jour” for almost everyone: for companies as they need to protect their facilities and assets; for individuals as they seek protection for their mobile devices, banking accounts, personal data etc.; and, of course, for governments where most of them are now on the verge of critical re-thinking of what cyberspace is and which threats/advantages it creates.
— What is a Digital identity protection?
Identity theft occurs when someone unlawfully obtains another's personal information and uses it to commit theft or fraud. The type of personal information could be anything from general data, like your name or address, to more specific data like hospital records, tax return details or banking information.
So digital identity protection is about making sure this personal information stays safe from stealing. There are multiple measures that a user should follow in order to safeguard himself, like not oversharing personal information in social media, updating software regularly and using security solution as a must. Kaspersky’s flagship solution – Kaspersky Premium, for instance, has a specific feature called Identity Theft Protection, which ensures no one takes advantage of user’s identity, keeps all the user’s documents safe, and prevents remote access to the system.
— It all has to look beautiful, clear and modern. Let's move on to the design. You have been living with the new corporate identity for four years now. Tell us how you transitioned to the new design system.
Yes, we went through the visual rebranding exercise in 2019. It was our 3rd and the most significant change of visual identity in 25+ years history, therefore the process was extremely challenging. Our goal was to create something that will last for another 25+ years, yet also deliver the look and feel of our evolving business, changing trends, adaptive brand platform and so on. As we are a private company it also affects on the way we sell our rebranding ideas internally - we have to be very close with top-management and founders to listen for their vision and to approve everything.
All in all, we have been with the new system for 4 years now and it works great. The foundation of design system that was developed by Moving Brands agency still gives us fuel to create stunning, diverse yet coherent communications. During last 4 years we worked with a number of other agencies that helped us to improve assets (font, illustrations, 3D), so we could be more effective.
— How many people are currently working on the design in the company?
We have roughly around 70 talented designers in company, working within 3 design teams - product team, communication team and digital team.
— What current tools do you use in your work?
As most of the world we use Adobe and Figma as our main tools. Also Blender, Cinema4D and Houdini in some specific cases when creating key-visuals or animations. AI usage is also increasing within my team - we started using MidJourney for development of event designs and some internal communications. In addition we utilize some internal products, like our in-house tailor-made Brand portal - the one stop shop for brand and design assets.
— Well, so are all designers in general. I think our readers will be wondering how safe these tools are. Is it now possible to hack your computer by downloading through Figma?
As far as I know, these tools are pretty safe if you are good with your cyber security basics – like strong passwords. We haven’t had any issues yet with Adobe yet, but we also don’t use it to store anything confidential.
— I know that you collaborate with Adobe in particular. So we can be safe with our design security?
Well, I believe so. I know our experts have been in close relations with Adobe team on cybersecurity matter, helping them to reinforce their product.
— In addition to designing basic products and user interfaces, you probably do a lot of other interesting things, don't you?
We do experiment a lot with illustrations and motion. For example we have our distinct illustration style for 3D and 2D and we work on dozens of images every month. Those go all over our products, websites and advertising. We even have a Houdini tool that generates a series of 3D characters for each specific malware name. I can’t help mentioning that our basic brand elements are always evolving - we fine tune everything from our bespoke corporate font-family to our icon style and library. That’s a big chunk of important work we do, beside all other projects.
— Can you tell or even show some of the most striking examples?
Some of our work and work we did with agencies is published on our Behance but we also love to experiment with illustrations, 3D and animations. Here some of these:
— We were recently discussing music and audio branding with other guys. I know that you developed your unique audio branding a year or two ago, could you tell us about it?
Our first approach to audio branding was back in 2015 when we created our sound DNA and sonic sounds. There was a demand for distinctive and recognizable audio assets for our conferences and videos, and, also all big brands had this type of assets already. So we're like – “we need it!” The result was very useful: we saved time when briefing sound composers, we saved costs by re-using audio in wider channels, we create additional recognition in marketing campaigns.
So after 5 years we decide to update it - to make it more contemporary and aligned with the new visual identity from 2019. This time ONY agency helped us with the challenge, you can see the full case here.
— Where can I see it all? Do you have a publicly available design system or something else (For example, Apple just recently announced the first official Figma service kit with iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 resources)?
Well, you can see _some_ parts of our design system on brand.kaspersky.com, but the full access is under NDA. We keep it closed as we mainly work with suppliers and partners directly and prefer to brief them before they use the system.
— How often do you see the CEO's interest in design issues?
Relatively often. It is not always about branding or design, but sometimes he is interested about merch or other ideas that comes for marketing.
— Have you tried to visualise cyber attack statistics somehow?
Beside the trick with Houdini (a mention above) we also have well-known cybermap — the special project of our developers and social media team.
— I also know that Kaspersky has a large and interesting pool of sponsorship projects. Can you tell me about it?
Sandro Cisco / Head of Global Partnership and Sponsorship:
Over the past few years, Kaspersky has established numerous global sponsorship and brand partnership initiatives centered around three core themes: sports, art and culture, and science. Among these, the most renowned and prominently visible one has been the partnership between Kaspersky and Scuderia Ferrari spanning for over 10 years.
Our entry into Formula 1 in 2010 marked a significant milestone in the industry as the pioneer cybersecurity brand in this arena. Not only Ferrari and motorsport, but we've also established sponsorships in football, MotoGP, we are cybersecurity partner of the Chess world championships. Furthermore, we maintain a strong presence in the esports industry where we currently sponsor 4 teams from different parts of the world.
— Oh, the race! I love racing! It's amazing that you give not only the young guys but also the girls the opportunity to achieve their dreams. Tell our readers how you came to support the Al Qubaisi sisters?
Sandro Cisco: We have been very active in motorsport and have always sought to support young talents. Over the years, we have encountered many on tracks around the world, including Antonio Fuoco, who is now a Ferrari driver. A few years ago, we also met Amna Al Qubaisi, “the flying girl” who was the first Emirati woman to become a motorsport driver at the time and since then we have supported her career.
Recently, her sister Hamda joined Amna at the wheel and now we have two flying girls competing in the F1 Academy. For too long, in order to be a successful racing driver, you have had to be skilled, determined, competitive, brave and physically fit, but more importantly, you have had to be a man. Gender does not determine speed and Kaspersky firmly believes that female and male racing drivers should compete against one another on equal terms and be given the same opportunities.
— This is an amazing story! I think it could be the basis for a separate story in our digital pages!
Sandro Cisco: Sure, let’s chat with Amna and Hamda directly!
— Let's talk about the future. Unmanned cars, meta universes and smart assistants. Where do you see a possible increase in cyber security concerns?
I would personally like to highlight several major cybersecurity trends and challenges that I believe will stay with us for the next decade.
Firstly, it’s the growing number of professional cybercriminals. Every day we collect more than 400,000 new unique malicious files, most of them are easy to detect, but some are made by mature cybercriminals. The number of advanced actors is growing, and Middle East region with its growing digital economy remains one of the most targeted regions.
Another trend is all about critical infrastructure and internet of things (or threats, how we sometimes call it jokingly). Every piece of equipment is connected somehow – transportation, telecommunication, energy, water, healthcare, etc. – and most are vulnerable. Cyber criminals can wreak havoc on hospitals today – what will they accomplish tomorrow?
Another important topic is about artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. The thing is that these technologies are increasingly being utilized by both cybercriminals and cybersecurity professionals. For example, to effectively address this, we at Kaspersky employ a combination of AI-based algorithms and human-machine learning processes. In this case, these tools are essential to distilling the vast amount of data to benefit our customers.
But, of course, a tool is a tool. If these tools fall into different hands and are used differently, they have the potential to cause significant damage. For instance, the generation of phishing emails presents a growing concern. Previously, the authenticity of such emails could be discerned through grammatical and spelling errors. However, with generative AI, these emails can now appear much more professional, making detection and prevention more challenging for us. As such, we need to stay ahead to address any loopholes.
— What is the security of the future anyway? It's like artificial intelligence. Will there be something immune, in common parlance, with an organism that can cope with harmful viruses?
As the world of connectivity grows, Kaspersky stands for a secure future, where the new, sophisticated, and innovative internet of things enriches our lives, not challenges them. We at Kaspersky believe that the future belongs to the development of immune operating systems. Such systems guarantee that the cost of an attack will be higher than the possible damage.
In other words, the attackers will have to invest in developing and implementing attacks more than the sum of the damage to the side being attacked. Unlike the traditional systems, immune operating systems are based on completely new principles. Each micromodule is isolated and has its own security policy: even if one module is hit, the rest of the system is not going to be damaged. By pioneering the concept of immunity and introducing our cyber-immune OS, we aim to establish a new standard in IoT device security and advance the resilience of connected systems.
— Thank you very much for the conversation! I feel a little safer now!
Thank you! Im glad to hear it! Yet another example of our brand helping everyone feel confident when using new technologies.