The Business Of Securing The Web – Kaspersky Interview

Garry Kondakov, chief sales, marketing & support officer at internet security firm Kaspersky Lab, talks increased IT security awareness, B2B and B2C trends and expansion plans in the Middle East.

In the wake of the NSA leaks and a number of high profile cyber attacks this year, are you noticing more concern about IT security from customers?

In 2013 I’ve noticed most awareness from the B2B segment, particularly the government segment, and there are a few reasons for this. First of all the new threats that have appeared are particularly directed at big enterprise and government organisations. There have also been numerous smaller attacks, limited in scope, but because they are directed at one company the level of destruction can be large. When companies become aware of these threats the most important thing isn’t just the antivirus software but also a whole structural solution in implementing their security policies.

In B2C, the retail market is decreasing and the market is changing. More people are going online but it is more about methods of selling or bringing our product and promoting it, rather than creating different awareness. Although the retail market is shrinking, awareness is not decreasing; people still understand that they need protection and we have to be more sophisticated in bringing these solutions to them.

In your 2013 sales have you seen less consumer but more business and government customers?

We started this company 15 years ago and perfected our B2C solution after five or six years, therefore our next step has been to be more aggressive in the B2B market.

Our strategy and investments are definitely B2B focused because in many countries we are newcomers in this segment in comparison to our competitors. In America and some other western countries, we are only just starting a serious B2B enterprise business.

In the Middle East the situation is much better, we already have big customers here, but we are closer to the starting point than maturity. So it is about investments into Kaspersky and our partners and looking for partners that can provide full security solutions with some other competencies.

In our business the numbers are more or less equal. Looking at our results, B2B growth is a bit more aggressive but the keywords here are a little bit more. In B2C we still have healthy growth as well.

With so many different devices in use is it becoming more difficult to protect everything?

Actually if we speak about the product for each it is more or less the same. It is the ways to bring it to our customers that are different. Here is where we, and other vendors, have started to think more proactively.

A couple of years ago everything was simple, it was a retail chain or a big retail mart, like Carrefour in the UAE for instance. Then we started our online business. Now, even our retail business has started to become more complicated, we’ve had to use different technologies like point of sale. It is changing, but mostly in the way we bring the products to our users.

Many companies have opted to offer their anti virus smartphone application for free but Kaspersky charges users, why is this?

This freemium model is not new and the companies who started to use the model came to the market when it was already occupied by companies including ourselves. They have to think proactively about how to do their business, but I don’t want to just speak for them, I want to speak for us.

People are using more tablets and mobiles and they have to be protected and the right way is to bring our products to them and monetise the offering with different or extra services.

This model is not predominant in our business but it is a trend in the industry and we are thinking in this way as well.

Are companies spending enough on IT security in the Middle East at the moment?

Vendors will probably tell you that at no time are they spending enough money.
Seriously though, I think it depends on the approach of the company and how aware they are of the problem.

Overall if I speak about the macro numbers spend is increasing but in some cases companies are still under spending.

The whole solution is about different things: its about software, its about services, its about regular updates of their databases, and its about having the right people brought into the company to manage the security system. There are different parts of these systems and all of them are crucial. So for example, if a company decides to spend money on software and not bring in the right staff it puts itself at risk.

You recently launched your Safe Money banking product. Is targeting specific industry verticals part of your product strategy?

We launched version 10 of our corporate Kaspersky Endpoint Security For Business product at the beginning of this year. Part of our strategy is to expand this type of portfolio and actually the Safe Money solution is an essential part of that. We have some other solutions that we can suggest to our customers, for instance DDoS protection.

We’re seriously thinking about opening a DDoS centre in the Middle East. Its still not 100 per cent confirmed but there is a very high probability that we will open one. Right now we only offer DDoS protection to customers in Russia and the Ukraine, so our next step is to build two DDoS centres, one in Western Europe and one in the Middle East.

We also provide our Expertise product, an SLA for malware protection, to different IT specialists because it’s important for IT organisations to understand from where they can be attacked and what threats to expect.

Which countries in the Middle East are you considering as a base for the DDoS centre?

I still can’t confirm that information but I mainly think it will be for the GCC.

What are Kaspersky’s plans for the Middle East coming into 2014 and beyond?

Overall to continue to grow, and to increase our market share, currently we’re number two in the Middle East with a market share of around 24 per cent. We have around 24 per cent market share in KSA and are number one in the UAE with around 23 per cent.

It’s a very simple task, just to continue our growth in B2C and B2B, again giving more attention to B2B as this region has more opportunities there in comparison to other parts of the world. We also want to increase support for our partner community and to invest. We consider the Middle Eastern market attractive and we want to continually invest into it.