"One can be deceived much easier than the secured device."
Cybersecurity has a growing trend. Many people claim that antivirus companies are the de facto creators of all viruses and take care of their own business. What does Miroslav Mikus, Europe, Middle East & Africa Sales & Marketing Director from a renowned antivirus company ESET think?
Q: ESET is a globally known antivirus company run from Slovakia. How the company manages to keep up with other players in such a dynamic industry?
We have been working in this industry as a company for almost 30 years. Gradually, we built a name, and thanks to that, we manage to attract talent from the #security industry. We don't just focus on the current trends but on predictions of how security should look in five years and how to help solve our customers' problems as effectively as possible. Close cooperation with our distributors and customers around the world helps us. They know what part of the security they need to change or what scenarios they envision in the #future. In the last few years, we have grown faster than the market and most of our primary competitors. I would say we are doing very well.
Q: IT is one of the most dynamically growing industries. Penetration of smartphones and tablets into everyday life and the need to be online is constantly increasing. The number of users exposed to the threats of the virtual world is growing. How do you protect your customers?
It was only a matter of time before #attackers also targeted newer types of #technology. We invested in the development of smartphone and tablet protection when we knew it would not be profitable. We didn't want to catch up on the late train. We have great technologies, and we have managed to use them in this area as well. Of course, we are already thinking and working on protecting many new technologies that will later be part of the #Internet_of_Things, such as cars or interior lighting.
Q: According to the latest surveys of the IT industry, the cybersecurity sector has a growing tendency. How is ESET positioned within the cybersecurity market?
According to publicly available #data, we are growing faster than the global #security_market. Figures from the analytical company Gartner say that in 2014 the market grew by 5.3 percent, but ESET up to 8.0 percent. We are in the top five worldwide security software vendors for companies and households. We could say we are number one within the European Union. We want to reach revenues of $ 1 billion in 2020.
Q: For most users, antivirus is the "obvious thing "that protects them. The majority of users usually do not care who its creator is. What do you do to increase awareness of your product?
We know our users very well. Our typical user is a very technologically proficient person who chooses the latest and #cutting_edge technologies. Recently, however, we are also focusing on users who are not interested in IT in such detail. It is essential for them that everything works smoothly right after software installation, and they expect the software will not interfere with their current activities. We are setting up our #communication to address the needs of our potential customers. Also, we communicate very clearly which challenges our #software can help to resolve. Given the focus on technologically savvy users, we have adapted and expanded communication channels to include those that directly affect a broader population group. These are mainly #social #networks and the media for the general public, not just IT magazines.
Q: The price usually determines the success of a sale, typically in the retail business. However, some companies prove that even an individual customer is willing to pay more for quality and a well-promoted product. What do you focus on at ESET when designing your regional sales strategy?
Because we place high demands on our products and rank among the top #security #software globally, we continuously adapt local strategies to this fact. Business development in countries where we are not among the top 5 brands in market share (mainly due to an underdeveloped sales network and low #brand awareness) is essential. We are not trying to break through a low price since we know that this does not work in our industry in the long run. Long-term safety, reliability, and trust are more important to our customers than just the lowest price.
Q: Many people claim that antivirus companies are the de facto creators of all viruses and thus take care of their own business. Do you agree with this opinion, or is it a hoax?
It is a very famous hoax, and I meet with it weekly. My answer is, "I wish we have time for this" (laughs). The creation of viruses is absolutely against our corporate values and intentions. So this is out of the question at ESET. Besides, every day, 200-400 thousand unique samples of #malicious #code are sent to our #Virus_Lab from sour more than 100 million users from all over the world.
Q: What are the current trends in antivirus protection? What about the security of personal data and misuse of personal data for trading?
Trading personal data appeared as soon as the #malware creators found how to monetize it. However, how attackers obtain this data has changed—most on social engineering principles. Hackers can deceive you much easier than a secured device. The attackers will use various psychological tricks. The person voluntarily provides information the attacker wants or enters them, assuming that the user is carrying out a routine operation in an environment known to the user, such as #Internet_banking. The user sends data directly to the attacker, which is immediately misused. However, even in many such cases, we can intervene. In recent years, there is an increasing number of #Crypto_lockers attacks. You will not lose your data by this type of attack, but the attacker blocks your access to your computer and #encrypts your #data. Only after paying the attack a considerable ransom can you access your data. People usually do not back up the data, and then they have a problem. Another significant motivation for attackers is "Borrowing" your identity to mask their own identity and undertake their activities.
Q: Current surveys confirm a growing number of users preferring web surfing and learning on smartphones instead of a classic desktop computer or notebook. How will this fact affect ESET's business? What are the challenges in preparing, processing, and programming a mobile version of the antivirus and its application in real life?
The biggest challenge is a large number of versions of the mobile operating systems and mobile equipment. Each version of the operating system works on each device a little differently. However, our products must work equally reliably everywhere. We offer users protection against #malicious_code, and also other valuable features that mobile device provides. Companies have an effort to provide security for everyone's devices, including mobile ones. Thanks to that, mobile operators offer our ESET Mobile Security, and we have gradually expanded to more households. For example, we have recently released the ESET #Parental_Control application, which does not protect against #viruses but focuses on securing children who get to know the world via the Internet with a mobile phone or tablet, even out of sight of their parents.
Q: Statistically, sales of antivirus software for mobile devices are significantly lower than standard PC sales. Why the difference? And what should companies do to engage users to use antivirus for mobile devices?
As for individual users, many of them still don't realize that they carry a small computer in their pocket full of exciting data and files. Therefore, they use security software that protects your #smartphone or #tablet for several additional functions that we offer in our software. In our user communication, we do not want to scare but inform how #mobile threats are evolving and draw attention to risks before encountering them in real life. Companies adapted to this trend relatively quickly.
Q: The online future suggests there will be greater emphasis on security. On the one hand, it's a good message for ESET. On the other hand, you will need to react very quickly to growing competition. Can you tell us how do you feel about this trend and what are your plans for the future?
Yes. It is undoubtedly good news that we are here in a sector that is likely to continue to grow. We need to respond to emerging threats rather than reacting to competition actions. It has been the case in the company's previous history, and so far, it has always turned out to be the right strategy. Of course, from the point of view of increasing the number of customers, I believe that the most important is the gradual expansion of partners network and brand awareness in the markets.
Thank you Miroslav.
About Mr. Mikus
Miroslav Mikus is a Europe, Middle East, and Africa Sales and Marketing Director at ESET. Miroslav brings deep expertise in cybersecurity and information technologies and systems. Miroslav holds a General Management MBA from the City University of Seattle.
A series of MENITY Leaders Talk interviews.
Interview with Mr. Mikus by Mr. Nemcok, a partner at MENITY.
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