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15 May, 2024
6 min time to read

In our previous conversation, our team delved into the new concept of Cyber Immunity and its potential ramifications on digital security. Continuing our coverage of the Kaspersky Cyber Immunity Conference, today, we shift our focus to the technical aspects underlying this concept.

Join us as we engage in discussions with Victor Ivanovsky, Head of Business Development for KasperskyOS Solutions at Kaspersky, to dissect the unique features and benefits of KasperskyOS, along with the developmental trajectory of Cyber Immunity technology.

- Given the focus of today's event on advancing security solutions, could you highlight what sets KasperskyOS apart from iOS or Android, especially regarding security features and design principles?

Victor Ivanovsky: The microkernel architecture represents a departure from monolithic operating systems like iOS and Android. Unlike monolithic systems with millions of lines of code, our architecture is lean, with approximately 100,000 lines of code. All functionalities are divided into separate security domains, each with its own security policy determined by Kaspersky’s architects and engineers.

An apt analogy is a ship divided into compartments. Even if secondary compartments are compromised, critical areas remain protected, ensuring system integrity. This architectural distinction safeguards against threats by enforcing rigid security policies, preventing attacks from spreading to core components.

Our operating system serves as a toolkit for creating secure systems with minimal cost and maximum efficiency, adhering to the Secure By Design principle. Key technological advantages include the microkernel architecture and precisely defined security policies.

- Which market segment is the current version of the operating system primarily designed for, B2C or B2B?

Victor Ivanovsky: Our current operating system version is primarily aimed at the B2B market. As a commercial entity, getting to market quickly is crucial for us. While we continue our research efforts, our main focus remains on developing products that meet user demand. In the B2C sector, there's a huge array of applications - for example, the iOS App Store offers over one and a half million apps. For us, this means significant costs and efforts to enter the market.

On the other hand, in the B2B field, the scenarios are more specialized. For instance, our Thin Client caters to the needs of a small user base, while our IoT Secure Gateway can be used in any enterprise-scale infrastructure. Therefore, the B2B segment is our priority. There's a strong demand for cybersecurity in B2B, especially in manufacturing plants and industries dealing with personal, financial, and medical data. That's why we focus on B2B rather than B2C.

- What hardware does KasperskyOS run on, and do you have plans to make it universal?

Victor Ivanovsky: We don't have strict hardware restrictions. From a technological standpoint, we can operate on any hardware. It's mainly about supporting specific electronic components. Driver support is crucial, and while we can't directly utilize drivers compiled for other operating systems, if we have the source code of a Linux driver, porting it becomes much simpler. We've developed a technological approach, which we term "Linux Compatibility Layer," facilitating the adaptation of source code for our OS with minimal adjustments. Thus, the question of which hardware we operate on mainly depends on the available resources, and we're building a network of technological partners to support this process.

We plan to make our operating system universal. This includes providing software development kits (SDKs) and driver development kits (DDKs) to our technological partners.

- How does the app distribution in your operating system differ from the approaches used in iOS and Android?

Victor Ivanovsky: It’s important to understand that we're not simply an app store; we're not focused on monetization like a typical store would be. Our aim goes beyond just offering apps; it's about bridging two crucial aspects. On the other hand, we integrate solutions based on our operating system into the system, such as Kaspersky IoT Gateway and Thin Client, and in future solutions. On the other hand, we integrate solutions built on our OS platform, such as Kaspersky IoT Gateway and Thin Client, with the potential for more in the future.

This integration empowers corporate users to access a diverse range of apps developed by our tech partners, while also streamlining the journey from developers to end-users. Our mission is to minimize development costs for the Kaspersky OS platform and simplify the app delivery process to end-users, eliminating the need for manual updates.

- Kaspersky is pioneering the concept of Cyber Immunity. How do you interpret the notion of Cyber Immunity and its significance in today's digital landscape?

Victor Ivanovsky: Cyber Immunity is Kaspersky's approach to building inherently secure solutions. The challenge we are addressing is applying layered defenses to ensure system security. Threats stem from the level of technological advancement. The more hardware and software emerge the more connections arise between various information systems, leading to increased threats.

Let's take cars, for instance. Back when I was in university, I owned a 1985 Volkswagen Golf II. It was pretty basic in terms of electronics, sporting just a radio and maybe headlights. But fast forward to today, and cars are no longer just vehicles; it's an entire network on wheels. And just like with our corporate networks, the same security measures apply. How do we prevent someone from remotely applying the brakes, hypothetically, via over-the-air updates on this car? that's where Secure by Design comes into play—it's about building future solutions with security in mind right from the architectural stage.

- Why do you think there were challenges in making this idea happen before?

Victor Ivanovsky: We've extensively studied the applicability of the Secure by Design approach to systems less complex than nuclear power plants or airliners. It became clear that achieving the necessary level of security control with monolithic operating systems like Linux is extremely challenging, and almost impossible. So, the decision was made to not only focus on the concept itself - building inherently secure systems, but also to engage in serious technological development. The history of security domain separation is a technological story, not invented by us. However, we've developed methods to effectively implement this concept on a microkernel.

- How did all of this turn out in the end?

Victor Ivanovsky: We don't have a tangible product yet, in the usual sense of the word. Sure, we showcase products, but these are more like demonstrations of what we're capable of building: fundamentally secure solutions that guard against both known and unknown threats. Let's imagine you have a motherboard with components connected by etched tracks. No tracks, no signal. But with tracks, there's a pathway for signals between components. Our security policy defines these tracks at the design stage to determine what's permissible and what's not.

Why does it work? Well, it's backed by 26 years of solid experience and expertise. Take Google, for example, dealing with heavy-duty systems or Huawei crafting an ecosystem of consumer devices. Our forte? Cybersecurity. Our core competency is understanding how to create secure solutions. We develop microkernel operating systems geared towards building inherently secure products.

- Your colleagues mentioned at the conference your aspirations to become a leader in the field of Cyber Immunity. How do you foresee the future of this concept within the company?

Victor Ivanovsky: As mentioned earlier, the Secure by Design concept doesn't solely belong to Kaspersky. Cyber Immunity is a combination of organizational approaches and technological solutions. Our goal is to build yet another serious business segment focused on technological partners advocating the Thin Client concept. Currently, we have Centerm, the world's first Thin Client manufacturer, which is already outpacing Hewlett-Packard. We also have an interest in IoT gateways, supported by funding, including in the Persian Gulf countries. Our main objective is to attract more technological partners and clients who will utilize our solutions. And we're successfully achieving this goal at present.

- Does Kaspersky have any plans to team up with other companies to further develop its technology?

Victor Ivanovsky: Take, for example, ensuring the security of communication channels. You might have a device with top-notch security features, but if data can be intercepted during transmission, securing the device alone won't completely solve the issue. For this, a specialized channel protection system is required, such as VPN. Our role is like a hub for distributing applications. We aim to empower third-party developers to create apps not just for Thin Clients or IoT-gateways but also for future innovations, making them accessible to our clients.

When it comes to hardware, we're all about software development. Hardware technology partners are crucial to us; we wouldn't go far without them. They, in fact, are the sponsors of our conference today.