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Russia’s Bear in the Woods Has Arrived

Forbes, By, Kenneth Rapoza

It’s 1984, and American school kids from California to Maine are getting schooled in how to hide under their desk in case of a military invasion by the Soviet Union. The bear in the woods was breathing down our necks. The phrase “Wolverines!” — made popular by the Cold War movie Red Dawn – turned into a war cry for every middle school boy playing war with plastic S.W.A.T. M-16s in their backyards.

Those guys are now in their 30s and 40s, and chances are, instead of fearing Russians, they’re relying on them to keep their laptops and computer networks safe from the bad guys. To do that, they are increasingly turning to Russia’s fast, hacker-seeker, antiballistic missile maker known as Kaspersky Lab. At long last, Russia’s bear in the woods has arrived. Only not in the way anyone ever expected, even the most optimistic on the future of US-Russia.

Moscow-based Kasperky Lab set up shop in a wooded area north of Boston, in the non-descript town known as Woburn, back in 2004. It’s the only Kaspersky office in the Americas. The company’s logo dominates one of around four brick buildings in the Woburn office park. They’re on one floor. A Titleist flies over head from the golf course fenced in beside the parking lot. Luckily, it lands safely in some mulch surrounding a small sugar maple.

Stephen Orenberg, chief sales officer, has been at Kaspersky in Massachusetts since the company set up shop as a subsidiary seven years ago with just two other guys running the back office and marketing with Moscow money. It started selling its internet security and antivirus software products in the US in 2005. The US subsidiary is now self-sustaining and is Kaspersky Lab’s fastest growing market, up 60% year-over-year for a company whose global bookings for 2010 were around $537 million, according to Gartner Research. In the short time since Kaspersky invaded the US software security market, it took the No. 1 spot for national retail sales. More people are walking into Best Buy and buying Kaspersky Lab than Norton Anti-Virus and McAfee products, according to The NPD Group, Inc.

In 2009, Kasperky sales units of anti-virus, internet security and spyware products was just 1,619,405, trailing behind Norton branded security software with 3,464,544 units sold. Last year, Kaspersky sales jumped 177% to 4.45 million. Symantec’s sales totaled 3.58 million and McAfee sold 1.1 million units.

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