NEW YORK -- Ask a chief executive of any security company what the crown jewel of their business is, and they'll tell you it's the source code.
In a day and age of government spying, hackers, and backdoors, there's a great deal of mistrust and paranoia in the tech industry.
Governments particularly are on edge that other states are using tech firms to get access to their most critical systems and data, including the US government, which has been shown to conduct industrial espionage (despite its claims that it doesn't).
It's no surprise that this air of deception has led some countries, like Russia as far back as 2003, and more recently China, to seek access to source code in order to approve or certify products in their countries.
"No, we refuse to hand over source code," said Vince Steckler, chief executive of Avast, in an hour-long conversation in our New York newsroom late last month.
"We kinda feel left out," said Steckler, jokingly. "We got the number one footprint in the world, and we've got the biggest install base in the world, and nobody has ever come to us asking us for our source code," he said.
"We haven't had the chance to say no," he said, smiling.