Pakistani Brothers' PC Virus Helped Create $20 Billion Industry
|Creators of First PC Virus: Amjad Farooq and Basit Farooq Alvi|
"It's surprisingly advanced, and it has surprising features, including a capability of hiding itself. So when your PC is infected by Brain, and you go and look at your floppies, you will not see Brain on the floppies. It's watching you watching it, and if you try to look at the copy of Brain, it fools you and gives you a clean image of a floppy instead. And we would call this a stealth virus, at the time....
These guys weren't evil at all. They weren't evil even then, 25 years ago, when they wrote the first PC virus. Their intention was never to cause harm to anybody, and they didn't, of course, realize that they made history when they wrote the first PC virus. But Brain was the only virus they ever wrote and they never meant to destroy any data or cause any harm for anyone".
The Brain, also known as The Pakistani Brain, is the virus that challenged John McAfee to develop anti-virus software. Later, John McAfee launched his company that was acquired in 2010 by Intel for $7.7 billion. McAfee is just one of several security software companies inspired by the Pakistani Brain virus. Gartner estimates that the security software industry revenue was about $20 billion in 2013.
Cloud security is the latest incarnation of the security software industry. Companies like Fire-eye founded by Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz are leading cloud security revolution in Silicon Valley.
Here are some of the reasons for the success of Fire-eye as described by Business Insider:
1. The company's flagship product solves a really hard computer security problem. It is able to stop hack attacks that were previously almost impossible to stop.
2. FireEye bought another security firm, Mandiant, for $1 billion. Mandiant was famous for uncovering links between Chinese hackers and attacks on U.S. companies.
3. With Mandiant, FireEye launched a cloud computing security service that competes with SourceFire. SourceFire is the company Cisco bought last summer for $2.7 billion.
4. The company beat expectations on its fourth quarter with revenue of $57.3 million, a beat by $1.26 million, and EPS of $-0.35, a beat by $0.03.
5. Some Wall Street analysts have been really gung ho on the company. Wells Fargo started tracking it a month ago, saying it was "a once in a decade opportunity to invest in a truly disruptive technology."
The world has dramatically changed since the 1990s when Wintel ruled the roost. PC is no longer the dominant device. Smartphones and tablets have brought the era of mobile cloud computing where neither Intel nor Microsoft enjoy leadership position. Even developing countries like Pakistan are deploying cloud computing applications. A Google sponsored survey in Pakistan found that mobile computing is expected to overtake desktop computing this year. Several new and more innovative and powerful players have emerged to in this market.
As more and more enterprises embrace cloud-based computing, cloud security is becoming a hot area for many entrepreneurs. This shift means over $2 billion annual market for cloud security vendors like Fireeye and Elastica. Researchers at Gartner forecast the highest growth to occur in cloud-based tokenisation and encryption, security information and event management (SIEM), vulnerability assessment and web application firewalls.
Recently, a Silicon Valley cloud security start-up Ealstica was launched by Rehan Jalil, a Pakistani-American alumnus of NED University of Engineering, Karachi, Pakistan. Elastica received $6.3 million funding from Mayfield Ventures, a premier Silicon Valley Venture Capital firm.
Several analysts have recently upgraded Fireeye to buy with the target price above $100.
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