Antivirus From the Edge
In an interview from </i>MCP Radio<i>, Editor Michael Domingo interviewed Anton Zajac, president of Eset Software about his company's antivirus offerings.
In this MCP Radio
interview recorded on April 9th, Editor Michael
Domingo interviewed Anton Zajac, president of Eset Software about his
company's antivirus offerings, offerings that have an interesting back
story in their development.
MCP Magazine: You have an interesting story to tell about the name
of your company and the name of the products you make.
Anton Zajac: The name of the company is Eset, which is an Egyptian
goddess. [Eset is Isis in English.—Editor] She had the special
capability to revive corpses. Her husband was cut into pieces; she was
able to put him back together and revive her husband.
Our program, NOD32, which is an antivirus system, we'd like to believe
it's capable of reviving dead computers, computers infected by deadly
viruses. The name of the product, NOD32, is derived from the name of a
very famous series that ran on TV in Czechoslovakia. The title of the
series was called "The Hospital on the Edge of a City" (translated
in English). We named our product, accordingly, "The Hospital on
the Edge of a Disk."
Frankly, I've never heard of your company, because when we think of
antivirus, in context we think of companies like Symantec and McAfee.
Have you been around long and is this the first time you've had exposure
in the market against those companies?
No. Actually, the first major exposure was in PC Magazine, the
April 2003 edition. Symantec, McAfee and Trend Micro were tested with
NOD32 and NOD32, based on PC Magazine, blew away the competition
in the performance degradation tests.
The first international introduction of our product was in May 1998,
when we submitted the product for tests to Virus Bulletin, which
is a publication solely dedicated to virus detection, protection and recognition.
Since May 1998, we won 26 Virus Bulletin 100% awards. NOD32 is
the only product that has not missed any in-the-wild virus in Virus
Bulletin's tests since May 1998, which is a pretty solid virus detection
The company is privately owned, revenue funded and we didn't have a lot
of money to advertise... We're gradually becoming more popular, especially
among expert users. In fact, there are companies — Dell, Microsoft,
Canon — which have tested the product and based on the results of
the tests, for example in the case of Dell, who performed net bench tests...based
on the result of extremely low system impact of our antivirus system on
Dell NAS systems, that Dell decided to ship the product with its servers.
Microsoft has been using the product in its release labs for three years
and Canon is our exclusive distributor in Japan. I believe we'll gradually
appear on the radar screen of big companies and the user, as well.
Are you looking to expand exposure of the company or are you trying
to maintain exclusivity, developing products as partners join you and
perhaps spreading your product more through word of mouth? I guess I'm
asking you to explain how your company will thrive in the market among
those other companies.
Basically, that is what's happening. The revenues of the company are
growing exponentially. We've been selected by Deloitte & Touche, one
of the top accounting firms, in its technology Fast 500 program among
its 500 fastest growing companies for the second consecutive year...[but]
most of our customers are coming to us because some friend or somebody
told them that NOD32 is an excellent system. Our client retention rate
is about 99 percent and a very high percentage of our clients are coming
to us because they were infected while they were using a different, competing
Tell the listeners what product you're talking about here.
We have actually many products. We have products for all Windows platforms,
including DOS. We have products for mail servers, Microsoft Exchange,
Lotus Domino. We have products for different flavors of Linux, Linux Mailserver,
Linux Fileserver. In fact, in this month's edition of Virus Bulletin is
a comparative review of antivirus systems on Linux platforms. NOD32 for
Linux Fileserver won yet another 100% Award for detecting 100 percent
of in-the-wild viruses.... The whole list of products appear on our Web
site at www.nod32.com.
Can you tell me about NOD32 and Remote Console, specifically how they
differ from competing products?
I think there are basically three or four parameters that should be considered
when selection of an antivirus system is being done. The first is detection.
The second would be the scanning rate. There are many clients who are
coming to us because they just can't stand waiting an hour or a long period
of time for other antivirus systems to finish scanning. NOD32 is not only
extremely rigorous scanning engine but also very fast. In fact, one of
the reviewers in Virus Bulletin [commented that] it's common accepted
that an antivirus system is fast or a good scanner, but NOD32 beats this,
coupling speed and detection together. The third parameter is the impact
on system resources. NOD32 has the lowest impact, the lowest requirement
for system resources.
You asked about Remote Administrator. That's the corporate edition of
our product. It allows for the deployment of antivirus system on a large
network, let's say, 5,000 computers, in a couple of minutes. It not only
provides for deployment, but it allows for an immediate and flexible picture
of what's going on. It creates customized or pre-defined reports of what
has happened on a network or what is happening. It would find unprotected
computers. It would alert the system administrator if a computer is not
using the latest edition of NOD32.... It's basically a management tool
that's inevitable in today's environment.
I forgot one feature, which is extremely important in today's antivirus
protection. The feature is the capability of an antivirus system to detect
unknown yet unanalyzed infiltrations. Those are, I believe, the most dangerous
infiltrations. It's relatively simple to protect a client against a worm
that hit the streets three days ago. But what's really necessary is to
protect the client's computer against something that will hit the streets
tomorrow. That can be achieved using a special detection method which
is known as heuristics.
NOD32 has a very powerful heuristics based on special virtual PC technology,
which consists of creation of a mock PC in the memory of a computer with
all the devices. Our system will throw a file into this simulated environment
and based on the behavior of this running and potentially infected file,
it will trigger an alarm.
To listen to the MCP Radio show that features the complete audio interview
featuring Anton Zajac, click
Michael Domingo has held several positions at 1105 Media, and is currently the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.