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New Kaspersky U.S. Channel Chief: We're Seeing Growth So Far In 2019

Matthew Courchesne said Kaspersky is rebounding from a challenging 2018 in the United States thanks to strong endpoint technology and new specializations for partners.

New Kaspersky U.S. Channel Chief Matthew Courchesne said the company is rebounding from a rough 2018 thanks to strong endpoint technology and new specializations for partners.

The Moscow-based platform security vendor saw a 25 percent decline in North American sales in 2018 due to allegations of ties to the Russian government, which the company has vehemently denied, as well as a permanent ban on selling Kaspersky to the U.S. government. But early indications in 2019 are that the company has turned things around in North America, according to Courchesne.

"We've got year-over-year positive growth, and we're really excited about where we're going," Courchesne said. "Our technology has been standing for itself, and that's what has allowed us to weather the storm."

[Related: Kaspersky Lab Names New North American Sales, Marketing Leader]

Courchesne's appointment as head of channel in the U.S. was announced Thursday, and he replaces North American Vice President of Channel Jason Stein, who has left the company. Stein didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Courchesne is reporting into Kaspersky Lab North America Managing Director Maxim Frolov, who is also supervising channel operations in Canada, according to Courchesne. Courchesne joined Kaspersky in April 2018 to oversee the North American inside sales team, and gained responsibility for all U.S. channel and sales activities in January of this year.

"We're fully invested here in the U.S., and will continue to drive our technologies throughout," Courchesne said. "We're really excited to continue that journey."

Since taking over as U.S. channel chief, Courchesne has overseen the rollout of a new global partner program that provides partners with recognition and back-end rebates for specializing in certain technologies. The program offers six specializations, he said: hybrid cloud security, threat management and defense, threat intelligence, industrial cybersecurity, fraud prevention and cyber awareness.

Achieving certain specialization unlocks opportunities for additional margin, Courchesne said: Partners that sell $100,000 of hybrid cloud become eligible for a 5 percent back-end rebate, for example. Other specialization rebates run as high as 20 percent, according to the company. Kaspersky will continue to offer deal registration discounts in addition to the new specialization back-end rebates, Courchesne said

Courchesne said the specializations will also allow Kaspersky to go after new partners in competencies like fraud prevention where the company hasn't historically had a strong presence. Kaspersky has more than 1,000 channel partners in the U.S. today, and despite the geopolitical challenges Courchesne hasn't seen a significant number of partners formally terminate their relationship with Kaspersky.

Kaspersky restructured its partner account manager (PAMs) team in the U.S. from being focused on specific geographies to serving specific types of channel partners, be they distributors, large account resellers (LARs) or smaller value-added resellers (VARs). This should result in solution providers receiving better support for their specific cybersecurity needs, according to Courchesne.

Kaspersky has also stood apart from the competition by bringing endpoint protection, detection and response capabilities together under a single umbrella, Courchesne said. Automated tools can solve for upwards of 98 percent of all attacks, according to Courchesne, including all common and commodity threats.

A full-fledged EDR (endpoint detection and response) product is only needed for true APTs (advanced persistent threats), which Courchesne said most organizations will never experience. As a result, Courchesne said most SMB companies neither have a use for a full-fledged EDR offering nor have the internal resources necessary to truly understand it.

Comprehending the data generated by an EDR tool is very resource-intensive from both a personal and expertise perspective, according to Courchesne. He recommended that businesses pass on the 'new car smell' of a pure EDR tool and instead opt for the automated EDR capabilities within Kaspersky's endpoint offering, which he said will meet the vast majority of business needs at a fraction of the cost.

"EDR does not replace endpoint [protection]," Courchesne said. "It's an overlay for the top 1 percent."

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