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Overseas Talk

“Europe was not Worth The Hard Work we Put In!”
Natalya Kaspersky, Chairman & Co-Founder of Kaspersky Labs and Infowatch, The Leading Anti-Virus and Data loss Protection Software group in the European and Chinese market Expresses her concerns over the Global it Security market, and The Past and Present of her Group Companies, to B&E’s.
Issue Date - 17/02/2011
B&E: Of late, much is being discussed about the market for technologies that will help control corporate information flow and protect IPRs. Do you have a positive feeling about this growth?
Natalya Kaspersky (NK): Yes, absolutely. The current market trend tells us that data protection is increasingly becoming the prime concern for any firm, due to the rapidly growing amount of data. Problem is, this growth is happening in an unstructured manner. So, you end up losing valuable information. WikiLeaks is an example. The solution to this problem is to curb leakage of intellectual property. And to achieve the same, the first thing to be done is to put in a lot of effort to first recognise what exactly you want protected.

B&E: You are also the CEO of InfoWatch, a company whose goal is to deal with information leakage and where you hold a controlling stake. In October 2010, the company launched a new software called “Infowatch Traffic Monitor Autolinguist”. What is so new about the product?
NK: Actually, Autolinguist is not a very new product, but it effectively helps to categorise and protect vital information.

B&E: Your company has also been active in the Middle East markets of late. How has the response been so far?
NK: Middle East has reacted positively. We started targeting the Middle East markets effectively, only last autumn, and therefore it is too early to speak of results. Also, we need to understand here that the business of data leakage prevention is rather a cyclical one, because people first want to try the offering. This usually takes 3-4 months. Then comes the issue of payments. Companies take some time to finalise contracts because usually, the deal sizes are well in excess of $100,000, a sum which many are not comfortable parting with. So, they end up deciding to buy only the limited editions. But having said that, the fact that we do have ongoing projects in the Middle-East, is already a great beginning.

B&E: You are the #1 anti-virus brand in Europe. To understand that you achieved it in just three years, speaks volumes about how smooth your growth in that region has been. Has your growth across all product categories been this easy in Europe?
NK: Actually, I would not give a thumbs up to our journey in Europe being an easy one. Bringing about changes in mindsets in Europe is not an easy task. In Europe, there are different regulations in different countries. So, our basic assumption that all nations in EU would react similarly to our plans and offerings was wrong. There, local laws dominate decision-making and this differs from country to country.

B&E: Could you quote an instance?
NK: Let me talk about our efforts towards selling Data Loss Prevention (DLP) services in Europe. In both France and Germany, there is a special law for privacy protection of a company’s employees; in France this law is much more strict than it is in Germany. Why? Because Germany has trade unions which don’t understand the meaning of ‘security’ and ‘privacy protection’. It is very difficult to change such a mindset. So basically, when it comes to providing software for DLP, France is easier to penetrate and Germany is very difficult. And as far as Europe in general is concerned, our experiences while selling most of our softwares have not been very joyful. Today, we are switching our focus from West Europe to markets in the East like Ukraine, Romania and Turkey. Honestly, we have realised that Europe was not worth the hard work we put in!

B&E: Will you ever get into the business of providing Integrated security software solutions to firms?
NK: No, because I don’t believe in integrated solutions. What I do believe in is a clever integration of IT security solutions with the tasks of the customers.

B&E: What security issues do social networking portals pose?
NK: They pose some serious threats, because most people upload information – both personal and professional – without giving much thought to security. Then there are hackers who misuse financial and sensitive data floating on the web. I must share this – there are special viruses created for say, a site like Facebook. In fact, it spreads so rapidly because it is transmitted to all those in your friends network in the form of a spam, which looks like a message from a friend.

B&E: You claim to keep Kaspersky focussed on only the anti-virus market, which leveraging the InfoWatch brand to sell the DLP softwares. But isn’t it true that one of your very surveys conducted in Europe put forward Kaspersky’s name as a leading DLP player?
NK: Yes of course, there was one such incidence. We had conducted a research across Europe (which considered officials in the IT departments of companies as samples) on the penetration of DLP tools in the European region and we received a very strange result. To our horror, Kaspersky turned out to have a 10% of market in DLP in the region. So what was so strange? Kaspersky never ever sold DLP solutions in Europe! The result came into being because of the fact that DLP was understood differently by different firms and individuals. For us, Kaspersky will remain to represent anti-virus and other softwares will be sold under the banner of InfoWatch.

B&E: And how about your success in the Chinese market?
NK: The people in China reacted very positively to our brands. In 2002, we entered that market, and today, we are the market leaders in the IT security market there. It has been a very fruitful ride.

Ashutosh Harbola           

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