Interview with Samvel Gevorgyan, CYBER GATES CEO/Founder

Our cyber security issue could not be complete without a grassroots example of an Armenian company in the field. We believe CYBER GATES, which provides a wide range of security and consultancy services in Armenia, is a fantastic example. We talked with Samvel Gevorgyan, CYBER GATES CEO/Founder and information security expert. Mr. Gveorgyan and his company are one of the brightest examples of the growing security sector in Armenia. Tell us more about CYBER GATES. When the company was founded and what services do you provide?

61834_537697869576824_1715304234_n - CopySamvel Gevorgyan: CYBER GATES was founded in June, 2011 as an Information Security Consultancy, Testing and Research organization. CYBER GATES provides end-to-end security solutions for organizations of all sizes. Our security specialists address your individual needs to provide the solutions that best match your business goals. Our comprehensive approach leverages the services and technology that have led CYBER GATES to be recognized as a thought leader in security solutions.

CYBER GATES Governance, Risk and Compliance Services help you evaluate your existing security practices against your business requirements and objectives. Our skilled security specialists provide recommendations to help you make more informed decisions about allocating your resources to manage security risks and compliance. We can deliver a wide range of capabilities - from security program development, to regulatory and standards compliance, to security education and training. By taking part in many contests, hackathons and tech events, CYBER GATES developed into a real mature company. How many customers do you have now and are they mostly from Armenia? Do you also provides services to foreign markets also?
Samvel Gevorgyan:  Though we are a team of young specialists, we managed to have partners not only from Armenia, but also from Europe, USA and India. With our foreign partners we are mostly working on building information security awareness, but we currently provide services only to Armenian customers. But the work with our local customers is not limited with services, we also try to develop joint projects.  CYBER GATES developed the Live Support project, which provides security support and consultancy. Tell us more about the project and how it works? Do you get many questions? How do you help people when they request assistance?
Samvel Gevorgyan: 
The project was launched in August, 2012 with the assistance of a partner company  ”Media-Tell”. It is a web button, which allows users to get quick support with the help of web call. This is used during cyber attacks.

With this initiative we are trying to help those people, who suffered from cyber attacks or those people who need professional consultancy to help them avoid being target points  for constant attacks. Our professionals’ experience allows to put them in the right direction to solve the technical issues and avoid such situations again. This service is free and available in our website and in the official Facebook page of CYBER GATES.

The calls were more frequent during the last year, but this year they surprisingly decreased. The peaks in volume are mostly caused by the Azeri hacker attacks on Armenian websites and our local web studios offer their services and support to help the attacked ones solve the problems themselves. Another project by CYBER GATES was Mapy which won in the nomination of “best mobile solution” at Hackaphone YAN Yerevan 2011. Is the project still active? I read in the news your team was planning to develop the project and to use it for the other cities of the country.
Samvel Gevorgyan: “Mapy” is an informational platform, which can be useful for Yerevan citizens, diaspora and general tourists visiting our capital city. It makes the city available directly from their mobile phones. It allows users to easily find the needed transportation, call emergency services or to find an official government body. It provides a map, gives information about places and allows users to find your friends, etc.

As the project is a large one, it is still in development level, but soon web and mobile versions will be available.
Here I want to note that the project will be working for not only large Armenian cities, but also will be presented to tourism cities of the world. We are aware that CYBER GATES provides real statistics and analytic reports on the hacking cases for Armenian websites. Where do you get this information from? How would our readers use these reports?
Samvel Gevorgyan:
Each successful attack to any website is somehow seen or registered on the Internet. Sometimes and even more often the hackers themselves leave signs which tell about the attacking groups. That information promptly appears on our website and very often we first let website administrative and technical supporters know that their website was successfully hacked. It is also important to note that the information about cybercrimes is takes from public sources or is sent to us anonymously.  Our organization is not involved and has nothing to do with those crimes.

It is important to mention for what purposes this information can be used. Our source can be helpful for creating analytic and statistic researches. Though the information we provide people can learn about the frequency of attack attempts and about the broken/unsafe websites. This is very useful for creating comprehensive statistics.  What is your opinion about network security in Armenia? How can we build more awareness and understanding in Armenia?
Samvel Gevorgyan: I am glad to state that we finally managed to explain to the businessmen and the users how important security systems are, and that it is even more important than having a nice looking website or appearing in the first ranks of search engines. We already can create the right atmosphere and “inject” this type of secure society in our culture. We explained that it is vital to protect your systems and it is better to do it before facing pernicious effects.  Our business customers already understand that security’s role is both technology and business oriented. What is your mark for Armenian websites’ security? Are we still vulnerable?
Samvel Gevorgyan: One common mark can not be given to the whole industry, but as I mentioned above, we already showed that security is not an extra cost, but it is a real investment in the development of your own business. Accordingly, I can state that we are in the development phase and everything takes time. But if we look around what is going on int he world, we will realize that we need more time to become more mature in such a fast growing sector. Is there a common category of Armenian web sites that are mostly being hacked from Azerbaijan? Where can a web site owner go to get started on security?
Samvel Gevorgyan: There is no common category to mention here, because generally the Azeri hackers pay attention to the quantity of the hacked websites. The exceptions are the cases when they deliberately attack official websites and networks.

The job of a developer is to program and develop the website, so only the specialists should be busy with the security issues. Anyway I will advise them to be aware of hacking methods and basic protection ways.
As a reading material I will advise to read our publication “Best Practices of Web Application Security“, which is a result of our deep investigation and research. I was proud to represent it first time in India during  “ClubHack International conference.  It is an extensive material with detailed information on 10 highest vulnerability marks all over the world and on how different specialists work against them. Do you think Armenia has the potential to become a regional leader in the IT security industry?
Samvel Gevorgyan: I can state that Armenia is already seen as a regional leader in IT industry. As an information security leading organization we are often invited to participate in different regional and international conferences and we proudly represent our country. In a word, yes there is a potential and there are great Armenian specialists. The Government can assist a lot for the development of the industry, including decreasing taxes for IT companies and making reforms in legal system. Also, organizing and hosting important international conferences and events would be a great benefit. What steps should the Government take to foster the development of such an important industry?

Samvel Gevorgyan: As I said the Government has a major role in the development of IT industry. The Government should come up with more joint projects with the local companies. For example last year in December we launched a unique project, called  ”NO TOR” , which was created to keep unwanted web sites and web resources unavailable to your data even with the TOR browser. It can be used for different official and governmental projects, for example to prohibit pornographic materials or social media usage at educational institutions. And this is not the only example which I want to tell about. Our professional specialists developed and launched another useful project, “SMART FACE”.

This system easily develops the image received from the digital camera in real time into special bio-metric features and compares with the data in the bio-metric database. This system can be used in airports, supermarkets and in other public places and it will allow to compare the data from digital cameras with the data from the Police database.
In a word we have a lot of specialists and we have great potential to be viewed as an IT leader among other countries of the world, but to reach that level we surely need the Government’s involvement as a supporting and collaborating body. Thanks, Mr. Gevorgyan, we wish you continued success in your endeavors!!!