Increasing numbers of international firms setting up in Switzerland are attracting cybercriminals, who are using more sophisticated methods to extract and abuse sensitive data, according to Kaspersky Lab, the Russian IT security company.
René Bodmer, Kaspersky corporate sales manager for Switzerland, tells swissinfo.ch formal cooperation between government agencies and the anti-malware industry is needed to combat the growing problem.
swissinfo.ch: In terms of the market and cyberattacks, how would you describe Switzerland?
René Bodmer: Many highly specialised companies - both SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] as well as larger corporations - have settled in Switzerland. Yet their expertise and global nature make them attractive victims for cybercriminals. Economic interests are usually the motivation for these targeted attacks.
We are seeing a shift away from broad, unspecific attacks to highly targeted ones on select companies or authorities. It is difficult for organisations to adjust to this, but there are a variety of measures they can take.
As one of the leading anti-malware software manufacturers, we have to focus more on education and customer service.
swissinfo.ch: In your opinion, how should the Swiss government be fighting cybercrime?
R.B.: In Switzerland there is no official cooperation between government agencies and the anti-malware industry. However, there is informal contact with organisations and associations that have been trying to foster collaboration between the two for the benefit of everyone.
These are working to pursue a PPP – or Private Public Partnership – which could well produce a win-win situation in the medium to long-term.
swissinfo.ch: How do the entrepreneurial cultures of Switzerland and Russia differ, and are these differences relevant for an IT company like Kaspersky Lab?
R.B.: In my experience, I believe that the citizens as well as the companies and authorities in both countries are traditionally very security-savvy.
Research and development are important in both nations, and both economies are engaged in a global competition in which some actors are playing hardball to fight for position and profits.
For that reason alone, businesses, government agencies and private citizens are increasingly finding themselves the targets of cyber attacks. In this regard, I can’t define any major differences between the two countries. The Swiss are indeed known to be very quality-conscious; they are also considered ‘early adopters’ of new technology.
From this perspective, Switzerland is an ideal market to gain experience and to incorporate it into forthcoming developments. What gets accepted in the multilingual Swiss market usually sells well worldwide.
I believe that even more intense cooperation among countries – including Russia and Switzerland – would make sense in the fight against cybercrime.
The issue of cybercrime has become so huge that it can only be tackled through joint efforts. And don’t forget that we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg.
There are a large number of unreported cases that the victims don’t want to talk about. This is because sensitive sectors [banking, insurance, healthcare, internet betting, infrastructure vendors] are afraid of getting a bad reputation if their customers and partners knew that they were being blackmailed by cybercriminals.
swissinfo.ch: What’s it like to work for a Russian company in this field?
R.B.: It’s exciting to work for one of the leading anti-malware makers in a very international environment while maintaining a very intercultural form of cooperation.
I firmly believe that the cultural differences – those that apply to security solutions as well as those that concern our personal development – will have a positive influence.
(Translated from German by Susan Vogel-Misicka), swissinfo.ch