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Interview: Developing Pakistan’s first antivirus

October 03, 2010

Whilst we’re familiar with names such as Eset, Symantec and McAfee with their 98 per cent detection rates which make people feel safe online, the real question is how millions of computers and websites are still infected with malware if basically every processor is equipped with a modern antivirus programme.

The two visionary persons realised the reasons for the two per cent vulnerability of global antivirus solutions and developed ‘Instant Virus Killer’ (IVK)—Pakistan’s first antivirus software. Here in this interview with Sci-tech, Hafiz Usman and Syed Imran Ali explain the procedure.

What was your main motivation in coding IVK?

From the beginning both of us wanted to do something in the field of computing which was different from the norm in Pakistan. Our motivation came one day when our Windows was corrupted due to a virus and we ended up installing the Operating System (OS) several times in a single day in order to fix the problem. That was the time when we decided to develop our own antivirus, not depending on global solutions.

The initial plan was never to launch it as a product but to keep it within our circle. However, when our user base of friends and family used the product and appreciated it, especially some built-in unique features, that motivated us to launch it professionally. Afterwards we worked on it more consciously and tested it from different angles and got it registered.

In what language is IVK written? Tell us more about how it works?

IVK is written in C++ and Assembly and has a dual virus protection system. The first feature is our special algorithm by which it detects viruses from Hard Drive, USB or from any other removable media. The second feature which makes our solution unique is our 10-second Recovery Feature that can recover any data loss or formatted partition in just 10 seconds—the data can be of 100 GB or more.

How do you find new viruses?

Finding new viruses now is not that difficult as people think. Mostly our friends and online communities discuss computer-related security issues and we also have access to alert emails from all around the world which are sent out instantly as a new threat is detected. Hence we’re automatically updated about the new malware instantly.   What are some other new trends in malware?

Well, it keeps on changing because the security level keeps going up with time. However, these days we’re noticing an increased use of HTTP protocols by malware. This is the most dangerous malware since its detection is comparatively difficult and it connects on the same ports as browsers it can cause more damage.

How many new malware do you investigate every week, and how many of those end up being added to the programme?

We experience new malware almost daily. I want to make one thing clear that their behaviour is almost similar to one another, only their approach is different. If you know the basics then you can easily detect 90 per cent malware without any investigation

How many registered users do you have?

We have a little more than a 100 registered users at present and we’ve had very good feedback from them. We’re still pushing to make our software free in Pakistan. In this regard, we’re looking for government or private sector support, e.g. if the government purchases our antivirus software for the public sector, we can easily use those funds to make the solution free for the rest of the Pakistani users.

We have worked two years to develop our software and have introduced the world’s fastest recovery feature but are still looking for assistance.

So what’s next?

We want to do something that will make our families and our country proud. We’ve already started working on developing Pakistan’s first Operating System which we hope will lead the country into the list of states renowned for their IT-based skill sets.