The development of digital consulting in Ukraine, and the reason for cyberattacks

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The development of technology is gradually changing our world. The models of information consumption are changing, and after them we and our perception of companies, state institutions and society are changing. Does digital consulting develop in Ukraine? What causes the powerful cyber-attacks? Oleksandr Olshansky, the President of Internet Invest Group holding company, a well-known entrepreneur in the field of information technologies and the father of the Ukrainian Internet, tells us today what kind of computer security system has to be in the country.

Please, tell us about the main directions of work led by your holding company, Internet Invest Group. How was the holding company created and how do you see its main function?

— Currently, the holding company includes various companies with varying degrees of maturity. Before Internet Invest appeared, I was engaged in Internet providing. Then the provider holding, which I was heading, was sold, and I started my own business after this corporate agreement. I purchased company – domain name registrar – Imena.ua. A domain name is the name of the site you type when you search it online. A domain registrar is a company, which registers such names in central registries. Registrars have accreditation of such registers. At the world level, registrars are accredited by the international corporation for the management of domain names and IP addresses – ICANN. There are only nine hundred companies accredited by ICANN in the world. In Ukraine, there are two of them (one of which is Imena.ua), which was not little for our  country. Then there appeared other directions in the Internet Invest holding company, in particular – hosting, and after that – the digital consulting agency “Olshansky & Partners”, which is engaged in turnkey network consulting.

What had become the impetus for the creation of such a powerful holding company?

— Everything happened by itself. I have been dealing with the Internet since 1996, more actively since 1999, as in 1996 the Internet existed in a rather limited segment. But the fact is that all my business life is network-related, and I like it.

What do you think has been your greatest achievement since you headed the Internet Invest Group?

— You know, this is one of those karmic questions that I could answer, having slightly changed the words of the classicist: I hope that my main achievement is ahead.

How many units are currently included in the Olshansky & Partners agency?

— There are four of them. Sometimes they are interwoven, because consulting and marketing are not simple types of business activity. It is hard to describe with two words. However, I can point out that in fact we do the following – we are addressed by representatives of companies that want their products, services and customers not only to be present on the Web, but also bring constant profit and increase. And we do everything we need to do, starting with creating a strategy and finishing with the necessary technical works.

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The development of digital consulting in Ukraine, and the reason for cyberattacks

Last year, we all witnessed a powerful attack of a computer virus, which almost caused serious infrastructure problems in our country. How do you estimate the state of the national cyber security?

— We were not affected by it, because we are very cautious about software, which is distributed centrally. All experts knew that sooner or later such an attack could take place. The danger was not in the fact of creating of the electronic accounting, but in the fact that our market of these electronic services has been monopolized. We had one dominant developer, and if you have only one developer, then sooner or later there will be “bad people” and they will do their own dark job through this developer, in this case – insert the virus. The developer, eventually, is not guilty. One should not create a monopoly in the market of electronic services, because it is a simple contradiction to the principles of Internet security. For example, the recent results of the meeting of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) put me on the alert – it was about creating a single national security system that should be very powerful and reliable. After all, when you create something one, something super-mega-protected, then it itself has a high risk of being broken, because things that cannot be broken are nonexistent in nature. Engineers call it “the only point of failure.” Once you create a similar “point” – you are in danger. It should be understood that the Internet as a system is arranged exactly the opposite way. Its “stability” is not related to the reliability of its individual nodes. It is little known, but when in the late 1960s the talks about the creation of a superbly reliable network (the great-Internet) started and then the main requirement was the necessity to create a network, the reliability of which would not depend on the reliability of its nodes. What, in fact, was done. This concept is quite difficult to understand and it is especially difficult if you are not an engineer working in this field. Imagine that it is about building an airplane whose reliability does not depend on the reliability of its nodes. This would seem impossible, but such structures exist and this process continues in the modern decentralized world. Decentralized systems have a special kind of reliability. These systems are not only reliable, they are antifragile, in the opinion of Nicholas Taleb; they can survive under all conditions. And when someone, working on any decision, ignores this principle – then there is a danger.

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How do you estimate the computer security system in our country?

— In commercial structures, such system is not bad – there are a lot of good specialists in Ukraine. I even think there are a bit more of them here than in Europe. But, in the state structures, the situation is not so good. Information security is one more face of the war. And the war is a very professional activity. Therefore, high-tech engineers who are aware of what they are doing should deal with the questions of security. I admire military history, and I can say that over time, military operations are increasingly shifting to the level of lieutenants, and even sergeants – that is, the level of those who are directly involved in the military operation. This is about the same thing. Our potential, of course, is not bad. Everything is spoiled by bureaucracy and the desire for centralization. Modern information security, on the contrary, is heavily connected with decentralization.

Which of the countries of the world are ahead in the field of wholesale internalization?

— You will be surprised, but the dominance judging by the density of computers connected to the Web, does not belong to the States. For some time, this dominance belonged to South Korea. But the United States is the absolute leader in creating the digital industry as such.

There is such a thing as digital sovereignty. If in the 1960s of the last century sovereignty was provided by nuclear weapons, borders and powerful intelligence services, nowadays, the signs of digital sovereignty are own social network, own search engine and own geolocation system. In the near future, it will be possible to add own infrastructure of cryptocurrency market. And there happened a strange thing – with huge potential, entering the top 5 or top 7 programming countries – for all years of independence, Ukraine failed to create any Internet-project of world-class. We do not have our own social network, our own search engine, our own messenger and our own payment system.

The development of digital consulting in Ukraine, and the reason for cyberattacks

Why? Don’t we want to invest in it?

— I have my own version. I saw how it all developed, and I can say that our state was irresponsible to what could have turned into a global project. Why it happened – because of treason or foolishness – it is difficult for me to say. For example, in the 2000s, Ukraine was the world leader in software for IP telephony. Many electronic payment systems were written based on software developed in Kyiv. But all this was destroyed. The only thing that was managed to be built – this is our own provider infrastructure. That is, the Ukrainian state is waging war against its own business and periodically wins this war. I do not know why it happened like that, I think that this is the legacy of communist thinking.

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In other words, a new generation will come and everything will change, won’t it?

— I hope so, but this new generation has already come. You understand – the train does not stand still. Right now the development of cryptocurrency market is going on. It is not too late – it is necessary to create our own infrastructure, for example – the cryptocurrency exchange in Ukraine, because in one year the place will be occupied. Now it is impossible to create our own search engine and our own social network, because the place is already occupied. And we had the opportunity to have it all – not alien, but actually ours. At the moment, we are using other people’s designs – and they are not free and carry some political risks.

Tell us about your holding company? How is, let’s say, the recruitment going on? Are there any special requirements?

— There are no special requirements. We take those who are not afraid of loads and are not afraid of work. We demand from people real work in real conditions. We require of people the desire to learn, because the digital world needs constant updating of knowledge.

How many employees do you have now and can we say these are the best minds of the computer industry of Ukraine?

— We do not have a lot of workers, but all of them are professionals. After all, Internet Invest focuses on B2B business. That is, we provide services to other businesses. Therefore, we do not need a lot of people, but they should be the best ones.

You are known as the Chairman of the Organizing Committee of iForum – a large-scale IT event in the territory of Eastern Europe. How will it surprise the visitors this year?

— Each year, Internet Invest is a co-organizer of the largest innovation conference iForum, which brings together the best companies, projects and personalities in the field of IT and related industries. IForum is a phenomenon of the Ukrainian digital market: for the last nine years in a row, the largest IT conference has been created on a voluntary basis, with the help of companies, which are proactive in business and public affairs.

There will be the 10th anniversary conference this year. And there you can get acquainted with all the trends of development available today, in particular, startups, crypto currency, biotech, augmented reality technology, gaming technology and blockchain. We, as organizers, consider iForum as a place of ideas exchange. After all, the future is being born in such an exchange.