In 2007, AV-TEST, an independent organisation which rates antivirus and security suite software, reported about 5,490,960 new unique virus samples in the world. In 2012 and 2013, antivirus companies reported new malware samples range from 300,000 to more than 500,000 on an everyday basis. Kazakhstan isn’t famous for the best IT companies in the world, so the question becomes who is fighting for national informational security.
There are competing claims as to who developed the original antivirus product. The first publicly documented removal computer virus, called “in the wild” or the “Vienna virus,” was developed by Bernd Fix in 1987.
If the name of the first antivirus programme innovator is not clear, the name of the first Kazakh developers is completely accurate. One of the developers is Andrey Kuropatkin, co-owner of WorkScape from Ust-Kamenogorsk the East Kazakhstan region.
“We decided to create our own antivirus, which would be 100 percent made in Kazakhstan in 2010 after we took much pain to analyse the information security market in the state. We understood that nobody had developed such a product in Kazakhstan,” he said in an interview with EdgeKz.
He and his colleagues considered the creation of an antivirus extremely urgent.
“We understood that most home users, commercial organisations and even government agencies were using foreign antiviruses to provide information security. We thought that there is some risk of leakage of valuable information. In addition, 99 percent of all computer viruses were written by hackers to earn money using it. We didn’t like the idea that Kazakhstan citizens were attacked and their personal or banking data was stolen using a variety of malware, their information was blocked and the hackers requested money from them,” said Kuropatkin.
As most of the participants in the project were still students, they perceived the work as a hobby.
“After we received the first positive results, we became much more enthusiastic. We started to devote more time to develop the project and step-by-step the first version of our antivirus was released,” he said. “Later after we made an analysis of popular antiviruses, we began to refine functionality and usability of the interface. The third version of our product was released in the end of 2012. At that moment, we could say with confidence that we had been operating a commercial product. All releases were uploaded to our website and any user was able to download it free of charge and install it on own computer,” said Kuropatkin.
The project interface was completely redesigned by the end of 2013.
“We divided it into two versions with basic and advanced functionality, which included parental controls, protecting online payments and much more. Also, we worked a lot on a corporate version, which had extended functional. We worked on the sale of our product as well. We continuously extended our partner network,” he added.
As expected, the reaction to the first Kazakh antivirus was specific and predictable.
“As you know, our country is not the leader in the field of software development. That is why any development in our market, regardless of its field of application, is perceived negatively by our compatriots and becomes a subject for harsh criticism. You can still find most of these comments on the Internet,” said Kuropatkin with a laugh. “This reaction helped us to take a look at our product again and we started to work even more enthusiastically, because we wanted to prove to our users that the product is working and meets all modern requirements in its field.”
Kuropatkin noted the company was supported by the state, specifically local state bodies.
“I really appreciated the assistance of such state bodies as the Altai East Kazakhstan Regional Technical Park, where we started to work and we are still residents. Using the technical park as a base, we were able to promote our projects in the market as well as obtain all the necessary consultations for our new projects with an innovative aspect,” he said.
WorkScape was involved in a variety of regional and national IT conferences as invited guests and participants. The team took third place and a one million tenge (US$2,955) prize in a state innovation competition for business plans.
Antivirus is not the only field where the group has become involved.
“In addition, our company has developed a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system designed for automation of procurement and sales processes in organisations using online trading resources. The system has very good, important functionalities such as automatic search and adding of information of tenders to the database. Also our system helps to manage relationships with suppliers and customers, work on warehouse accounts and account transactions, store documents, files, data, reports on employees and products, assign tasks and monitor their execution and many other features. Any company that uses our CRM gets an advantage over their own competitors. This product is ideal for small and medium businesses, but can be adapted for use in large organisations with their needs,” he said.
Kuropatkin noted his team is now working on the online version of the CRM, which would make it much more popular. The online version will offer features such as sending SMS and integrating with other systems. In addition, the online version could be used by any gadget with Internet access, which will significantly increase the number of potential users.
“We have some new projects as well. As of today, we plan to create programmes which can be used in construction and design fields. I cannot tell you more about them now, but we have innovative ideas and maybe we will be able to use grant funds to implement these technologies. Now we are negotiating cooperation with local and regional administrations on the subject of interest and the realisation of this idea,” said Kuropatkin.
Today’s world is dominated by IT monsters like Microsoft, Google or Apple that rule what gadgets people use for work and in their everyday life and even the way they work and have fun. Niche companies such as WorkScape, however, are walking away with deals that would have traditionally been bagged by IT majors. Their main advantage is the opportunity to adjust to any client’s needs and requirements. Sometimes their clients don’t want to use solutions developed by IT monsters for a range of reasons. Instead, they want a small company to create individual programmes and systems which suite only their requirements and make their employees lives easier.
WorkScape has sold its products to Nazarbayev University, KASE, RTK, Kazavtodor, Astana Energy, Informational and Analytical Centre on Employment and many other companies.
“People contact us asking to develop web portals and software for their own needs. Such requests are always welcome. We are very interested in doing something new, because we always want to try something new. There are no any strict restrictions in software development. The main criterion is a clear understanding of what result our client wants. Another important aspect – we want every project to be interesting for us,” said Kuropatkin.
WorkScape website: workscape.kz