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News

Profile of Internet security innovator and entrepreneur Melih Abdulhayoglu

Comodo Group : 04 February, 2009  (Special Report)
Energetic entrepreneur and Comodo founder profile reveals the difference between trust and security and provide some analogous real world food for thought!
"I built my first circuit when I was a nine year old lad in Turkey," said Melih Abdulhayoglu. He's been building ever since. Directly or indirectly, his products benefit everyone who uses the Internet.

In 1998 he founded the Comodo companies, which now provide the infrastructure essential to enable businesses and consumers to interact and conduct business via the Internet safely and securely.

Fifteen million grateful consumers the world over surf the Internet protected from online threats because of Melih's commitment to providing award-winning firewall and antivirus software free of charge--and to urging them to use it. Not only do the free Comodo products protect individual PC users, they prevent the inadvertent spread of malware to others.

Melih is not so much an iconoclast, breaking the old ways of doing business, as an iconoplast, building new ones. Under Melih's groundbreaking business model, Comodo can afford to provide this free service thanks to the company's phenomenal success in issuing digital certificates. As a Certificate Authority, Comodo continues to grow revenue by over 30%. Comodo is now one of the two largest issuers of business-validated SSL certificates.

In 2008, Melih's innovative business model earned him Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Information Technology Software Category for New Jersey.

In 2005, he issued a wake-up call to the digital certificate industry. It was too easy to obtain SSL certificates. Any fraudster with ready cash could buy an SSL certificate to provide a spuriously secure connection.

He gathered Certificate Authorities and Browser companies together and convinced them to form the Certificate Authority/Browser Forum. United in purpose, its members determined to make SSL communications more secure. They jointly designed new, much tighter, standards for SSL certificates.

He proudly announced the result—the EV SSL certificate--on the Comodo forums in 2006:

The New Dawn: Security is not Trust

Despite talk about encryption and security on the Internet, we are still falling short of true identity trust assurance every time we go online. Why? Our current attempts of encryption only encrypt our communications, but don't check who is on the receiver. Thus giving users a false sense of security. After all, what is the point of encrypting something for someone you have not authenticated? For all we know we could be encrypting and securing information for the fraudster on the other end.

Through real world examples of fraud, phishing and finally trust, I will outline what steps are necessary to move the Internet from merely encrypted messaging to a secure environment with established trust between user and emerchant and back again. This article will outline why some tools work and some don't, as well as what actions must be taken to prepare us for the next Internet revolution, the next threat and hopefully an age of trust

Not all Animals - or Internet Padlocks - are created Equal!

It's a fact of life, we look different, we act different, and we feel different! And that is why browser providers like MS, Mozilla Firefox, Opera and KDE want to change the way their browsers look, feel and interact with the end user. Yet, their security padlocks seem to remain unchanged, providing us with an icon of trust and security that may not only be outdated, but may be a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Today, not all Secure Sockets Layers (SSLs) - padlocks to the general user - are created equal, and some are even being used as tools in today's phishing attacks. However, it is hard to tell a secure lock from a non-secure lock when they all look the same. This growing online inconsistency is making it more important that our end users be able to identify a true authenticated site and that browsers work with trusted Certification Authorities to ensure that the padlocks are doing what they promise.

The Extended Validation SSL certificate may not yet be on the tip of Internet users' tongues, but the green browser bar that users see when the browser detects the new certificate attests to new, enhanced protection.

Melih earned a BSc in Electronic Engineering from Bradford University in 1991. While at Bradford, Melih was instrumental in creating new digital security technologies for large enterprises, computer manufacturers and governmental organisations worldwide.

In his blog Melih goads and cajoles pc users to beware. He urges them to use the Internet wisely to take advantage of its tremendous potential. "Now the Internet has become the central communications engine of our time, expanding our reach more broadly than ever before…(but) we must contend with an Internet fraught with fraudsters as we singularly contend with challenges of trying to figure out who and what to trust online."

"The solution is to prevent, not detect," he said. "Don't wait until termites are already eating your house and then call the exterminator. Prevent them from getting in beforehand. Antivirus detection technology is 25 years old. The hackers are way ahead of it. Every Internet user needs intrusion prevention, not malware detection. You have to prevent malware before it executes."

"Imagine the Internet as a highway (literally) with houses scattered all around it," he wrote recently in the Comodo forums, which now boast more than 60,000 members. "

Each one will have its own number, as well as doors, windows, etc. Each house represents a computer connected to the Internet. Now, wouldn't it be cool to have "invisible paint" that I can paint my house with on this highway, so that people can't see me. Yup, that's one function of a firewall. It makes you invisible on the Internet highway so that hackers don't know where you are and they can't hack in to your machine. Hackers are like the nasties on this highway, who go knocking on your door to see if anyone is in, even try to open the door to see if they can get into your house. After all, in the virtual world, hackers get in to your house (your PC) and take over as you have much less visibility to what's happening in your PC than your house!"

Some hardware firewalls do have this functionality. That is why firewalls (the PC firewalls) have evolved to offer the 2nd functionality, "detection".


Making yourself invisible only protects you against one type of threat. There are numerous others. Think of them like this:

1. The hacker throws a hand bomb through a window he manages to open.
2. The hacker puts a nasty bomb in your shopping bag without you realizing it. You take the shopping bag home.
3. The hacker drops a package at your front door and you open it.
4. The hacker gives you a really nice present that you will be proud to display as a piece of furniture. It looks a bit like a Trojan Horse, but you like it.

Protecting your PC against these attacks is tough, because they are not thoroughly understood. The idea is to prevent your stuff from being stolen, right? So how do you do that in the PC world? Let's serve this up in the "real world". It looks something like this.

You are shoplifter and you go to a retail outlet and identify some nice clothes to steal. You are wearing a huge coat so that you can put some of these clothes on you in the dressing. Ok, you go pick a room and simply walk out with them. Good plan so far. 5 items, go to the dressing room, and put them on. You feel like smiling, but don't! You will give yourself away. Just walk towards the door as if nothing has happened. DO NOT WHISTLE! You are making it too obvious. Just walk normally. OK, great, almost there. Keep going…

BEEP…BEEP…BEEP … OOOHHHH NOOOO!!!!

You forgot the remove the tags! Oh well, try telling the police this was just an experiment to show how PC Firewalls work, and see if they buy it. No, we can't visit you in jail.

Tags? What tags? Those electronic tags on the clothes I stole?

BINGO!

This is a tag alert system. It stops valuables from being stolen. If you have something being taken out of the shop without authorization, it sounds the alarms. Well this what your firewall does. It stops thieves from stealing, literally. If you have somehow managed to get malware on your system and that malware is trying to make a call home and steal information from you, the firewall will warn you. This is why your firewall must not "leak"; otherwise, malware will be stealing stuff out of your machine, without your firewall alerting you. A leaky firewall is like a tag that doesn't work, shoplifter will take it out of the store without sounding any alarms!

Due to Melih's passion for Internet security, Comodo has grown to a privately-held company with more than 450 employees around the world.

Its award-winning free firewall, Comodo Firewall Pro, has become one of the most downloaded products in the world, protecting another PC every second of every day.

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