CIO East Africa (Nairobi)

11 January 2013

East Africa: Kaspersky Lab - Mitigating Security Illusion in East Africa

Kaspersky Lab opened a new office in Kenya; the company justifies this to the phenomenon growth of internet penetration in East Africa.

Bethwel Opil, the Channel Sales Manager for Kaspersky Lab East Africa referring to Communication Commission of Kenya, (CCK's) report at the end of 2010, says Kenya had 8.8 million internet users, currently 17.3 million internet users' exist, and this has been reported with the majority of them accessing the internet on their mobile devices.

Increased Internet penetration boils down to an increase in malware attack. According to Gartner, antivirus programs consume a third of total security spend in various organisations, however business system security in the present day is more to just an antivirus program. It is about modernizing the whole security ecosystem, which includes proper prescription and management of an antivirus environment.

Part of this environment according to Opil is to nurture strong Kaspersky distributors and re-sellers' space; he coordinates them to the South African office and the headquarters in Moscow.

The region had no manager to brand visibility of the Kaspersky product, despite the increase vulnerability to malware in the cabled environment; on the other hand the few distributors in the region needed a strong guidance and support in the East African market, especially at the projected prevalence at which hackers will be handing out headaches to IT security personnel in organizations.

Before Opil came onboard, the company relied on a third party personnel to handle its functions in the region, the drill was to give them brand guidelines and trust that they will be able to run the market as per the guidelines, though some of the issues both in marketing and technical scenarios weren't well handled. The distributors worked at their best, however they were more on selling the product, issues about protecting the brand would come second.

As a company, Kaspersky felt the need to handle grey products and counterfeits in the region, despite having the machinery to control grey products within its market boundaries; counterfeits posed a major problem to the company especially in 2010 and 2011.

Opil says the best way to deal with counterfeit products especially for antivirus programs is to split the licenses; the company approached this situation in two ways, the legal and technical approach. They arrested and prosecuted those found guilty of selling counterfeit business to consumer products and technically they developed a scratch card where once the license has been scratched and used it cannot be sold again.

"Surprisingly this copying and reusing of the same license on duplicated copies of the antivirus only happens in the East African market", says Opil. Counterfeits pose an illusion of security to the consumers.

Irene Warui, Kaspersky Product Manager, solutions Associates points out that the products works well in a networked environment. This is through an open space, Kaspersky corporate a centrally managed solution designed for a networked environment or better yet on nodes in domains, this is then monitored and facilitated through security centre agents.

When CIO East Africa asked her whether she advises her customers to better look at their PC's processes before purchasing the antivirus program, Warui said she administers questionnaires that the customers fill in and they are able to capture their requirements, before she recommends the product. "Kaspersky is not resource intensive so most of our clients have no compatibility issues", says Warui.

Despite the advancement of technology in modern systems, antivirus programs are still required as base level security in organizations.

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