NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The major newsout of Kaspersky Lab’s North American partner conference this week was thelong-awaited launch of its managed service provider program, but the securityvendor also introduced its new North American channel chief and provided anupdate on emerging security threats.

Update on the health of the business

Kaspersky Lab’s North American president, SteveOrenberg, told partners that business continues to be strong and Kasperskyremains ahead of its partners in annual growth.

Quoting numbers from Gartner, in North America onthe B2B side Kaspersky grew at 28 per cent, compared to an overall marketdecline of nine per cent. On the B2C side, Kaspersky grew at 25 per cent.

Orenberg also introduced three new members ofKaspersky’s North American leadership team,many of them with solid channel pedigrees. Jean Lozano, a former head of fieldand channel marketing for Trend Micro, has joined Kaspersky as vice-presidentof B2B marketing. Chris Doggett, who helped build the channel organization forSophos, is now vice-president of channel sales. And Chris Gaebler, formerly ofAccenture and Sony, is now vice-president of B2C marketing with responsibilityfor driving the customer experience.

As a private company Kaspersky doesn’t publiclyrelease earnings statements, but Kaspersky CFO David Eggers took the stage toprovide some global insights on the health of Kaspersky’s business. He reportedthe vendor grew at 15 per cent worldwide in B2B in 2011 and 14 per cent in B2C,with Kaspersky putting much of its effort and investment in growing itscorporate business.

Looking ahead, Eggers said their target for 2012 isto be a $750 million company, which would mean growth of 16 per cent. And withthe Sochi Olympics happening in Kaspersky’s home country of Russia in 2014, that’stheir target for becoming a $1 billion company.

On the brand awareness front, no numbers for Canadawere given but it’s probably close to the 50 per cent figure quoted for theU.S. Kaspersky has 86 per cent awareness in China and 98 per cent in Russia.

Surveying the threat landscape

Hacktavism and country-based malware is the risingthreat in IT security said Costin Raiu, head of the global research and analysisteam with Kaspersky Lab. We’ve moved from kids in their basements hacking forfun, to criminal gangs hacking for money, now to state-sponsored hackersmotivated by nationalism.

He pointed to the Stuxnet worm, which it wasbelieved was created by Israel to target Iran’s nuclear program.Counter-attacks have also been traced to Iran, and he said the attack on RSA’ssecurity platform was really about getting access to Lockheed-Martin’s serversto get the plans for the F-35 stealth fighter, with alleged links to China.While all three attacks had specific goals, their impact was much wider.

“A cyber cold war is coming,” said Raiu. “You’llall be caught in the middle, and you don’t want that to happen.”

Chris Christiansen from IDC likened it to the oldprivateer model of state-sponsored pirates with a “letter of mark” from thecrown authorizing them to pillage enemy shipping. It’s a good analogy, even thougha Canadian would have added in a Barrett’s Privateers reference.

Until they end up as broken men on a Halifax peer,hacktavism will be a threat companies are going to have to deal with.

Growing Android vulnerabilities and new attackstargeting Macs also drew mention.

Meet Kasperky’s new North American channelchief

As mentioned earlier, Chris Doggett has joinedKaspersky to lead the channel in North America. And a partner conference in theBahamas is a nice way to ease into the role. He told CDN he’sbeen busy though, and said changes to the program will be coming.

“We have a strong base of loyal partners and apretty straight-forward program that’s a good one to build off of,” saidDoggett. “As a private company we can move quickly and be agile, and we havethe luxury and flexibility to try some ground-breaking things with specificsegments of our partner community. I do anticipate introducing some newconcepts and business models within the channel program that haven’t been triedpreviously.”

While he was coy on the details, Doggett, hintedgeographic breadth and depth would be focuses for him, recognizing that notevery partner has the same business model. Some are small IT service providersthat function as the IT shop for their SMB clients, while others are nationalproduct resellers. Then there’s service organizations and partners with narrowvertical market focuses.

“Instead of having partners specialize on uswithin our matrix, we have to look at things through the other end of thetelescope and go to market based on their business model,” said Doggett.

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