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Margrith Appleby is Kaspersky’s General Manager Australia and New Zealand. She joined the world of cybersecurity 18 months ago and spoke to GadgetGuy on the issues of the times.

Kaspersky ANZ headhunted Swiss-born Margrith Appleby in 2017 to be GM, Austalia and New Zealand. At that time, there was significant company upheaval as the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) targeted Russian-based Kaspersky as its ‘geopolitical’ poster boy.

Kaspersky saw in Margrith Appleby’s 30 years in IT, a person who focused on large, important issues. As her customers at HP and later, Lenovo would often say, “Don’t send me a salesperson – we want Margrith.”

Her passion that, “We must run to the fire, help put it out – not add fuel to it” describes her working for the Russian-based company. “Yes, DHS had concerns, and we have addressed them openly and honestly.”

Her genial, energetic, intelligent approach has worked – Kaspersky ranks in the top three ANZ cybersecurity providers and is doing exceptionally well.

GadgetGuy interviewed Margrith on her 18 month anniversary.

GG: Kaspersky stated in 1997 in Russia.

Eugene Kaspersky often says that was where the best hackers are bred although the debate is still raging over the quality of the hordes of hungry hackers from China and Asia.

HQ is in Russia, and home sales account for about 15% of revenue (Europe is 33%, USA 25%). Global HQ is in the UK, and it has facilities in Dubai, UAE; Istanbul, Turkey; London, Mexico; South Africa; Brazil; Switzerland, Singapore; the USA and here in Sydney and Melbourne.

And that does not count the 100+ companies that licence the Kaspersky engine and Whitelabel their solutions. We may have started there but we certainly did not stop there!

GG: Kaspersky is one of the last cybersecurity companies to bear and active founders name. Does that make a difference?

You know it is hard when the company name and the founder is one and the same – you take it personally. That is the main difference between our competitors and us – there is a real person at the top.

Many companies would adopt the foetal position when faced with an adversary like DHS. Kaspersky took it in his stride and did a magnificent job in establishing the Global Transparency Initiative (GTI) in Switzerland. It showed that we have nothing to hide. Eugene Kaspersky believes that GTI is the most critical way to gain trust and is proud to be the first to offer such transparency. There will be more GTI centres – we hope for one here!

Eugene Kaspersky

GG: What are your most significant successes over the past 18 months

I have seen that ‘magic moment’ where the conversation shifts from ‘Who are you and what’s the offer/price?’ to “We hear Kaspersky can help us to keep the bad guys out – let’s talk”.

GG: Kaspersky recently teamed up with comedian Joe White at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. What was that about?

This industry is known for selling by F.U.D (fear, uncertainty and deception). We felt it was necessary to use a fresh approach to get people to pay attention to cybersecurity.

Who hasn’t received a scam email? Who then, unfortunately, clicked on a dodgy link or opened a virus-ridden file? Unfortunately getting people to recognise these risks has proved difficult.

If you can make someone laugh about something serious, it tends to hold their attention. Our expertise is cybersecurity. Joe’s is to make people laugh at serious things – security is not a laughing matter.

GG: Can you tell us about GReAT (Global Research & Analysis Team)

These are Kaspersky’s best. The 40+ team are ridiculously smart, clever, and speak a language I can’t even begin to grasp. We are so lucky to have team member Noushin Shabab based here.

GReAT is a tremendous asset to help customers that have had security issues to understand what happened and why. For my part, I reach out to Noushin to help me understand the threat scene and what action we should proactively take in ANZ.