F-Secure finds security in Malaysia

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"We’re committed to the region and, this year, we've decided to increase our focus, putting in more resources in Malaysia," F-Secure vice president for Asia Pacific Paul Palmer tells Business Circle. "We’re committed to the region and, this year, we've decided to increase our focus, putting in more resources in Malaysia," F-Secure vice president for Asia Pacific Paul Palmer tells Business Circle. “We’re committed to the region and, this year, we’ve decided to increase our focus, putting in more resources in Malaysia,” F-Secure vice president for Asia Pacific Paul Palmer tells Business Circle.

In 2005, when Finish anti-virus and online security specialist F-Secure was scouting for a hub in Asia to position itself for the anticipated growth in demand for security products in the region, it picked Malaysia.

Its then president and chief executive Risto Siilasmaa had said: “We selected Malaysia because of its well-qualified human resource and good cost infrastructure. Lots of countries in the region have a good infrastructure, but Malaysia has a supportive government too.”

F-Secure Corp (M) Sdn Bhd was incorporated in February 2006, received its MSC status three months later and opened its first office at KL Sentral in July.

As the company grew, it moved to its own F-Secure Tower in Bangsar South in 2009.

Today, F-Secure’s Asia-Pacific headquarters in Malaysia still hosts the group’s only lab, customer support, and R&D facilities outside of Finland.

“We’re committed to the region and, this year, we’ve decided to increase our focus, putting in more resources in Malaysia,” F-Secure vice president for Asia Pacific Paul Palmer tells Business Circle.

The focus would be on the group’s corporate cloud-based security solutions, with the small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as its main target.

Palmer2

Palmer2According to Palmer (pic), spending on security products by SMBs in Malaysia is expected to hit 80 million euros this year. “By 2017, it’s going to grow to 120 million. Even if we can capture just 10% of that, it’s a lot of money! And that’s just Malaysia.”

F-Secure has had corporate products for some time now but sales had concentrated mostly in Europe, its stronghold, where 75% of its revenues are generated.

“We have distributors selling our corporate products here in Malaysia since 2006/7… Our products are well-known in the government departments. This year, we’ve decided to put in more focus and investments in the region to start selling them through our resellers and distributors,” Palmer says.

PSB

PSBLast month, F-Secure officially launched its Protection Service for Business (PSB) suite in Malaysia. The company touts PSB as “a cloud-based platform that offers companies the edge they require to be more productive, along with protection for the whole IT environment, while being cost-efficient. It is a comprehensive turn-key protection suite for multi-device settings, offering the best security in the market and advance value-added features.”

“Cloud is becoming more important, so that’s our direction globally. We’re focusing strategically on cloud-based security, offering security as a service. Typically, our competitors are offering licence-based products so corporates will have to make big capex investments. Our products are pay-as-you-grow rather and more focused on SMBs,” Palmer says.

“We also have a full portfolio of on-premise solutions because some corporates, such as banks and insurance companies, are not really for cloud-based solutions yet,” he adds.

Next on F-Secure’s launch list is the corporate version of Freedome, a security and online privacy solution that allows users to browse safely in a virtual private network, blocking harmful sites and applications. It also shields the user’s privacy, giving anonymity and a clean digital footprint, away from the eyes of advertisers of cyber criminals. The consumer version of Freedome is already available on its website and mobile apps stores.

Freedome

Freedome

F-Secure has traditionally gone to market through mobile operators and has some 250 mobile operator partners globally, probably the most among its peers. In Malaysia, it partners with Celcom. While the group has been increasing its sales through resellers as well as direct to consumers, mobile operators still accounted for 60% of the group’s global revenues in the first nine months of this year.

“We have been very much focused on the operator channel and typically, our products through our operator partners are white label. That’s why you don’t really see F-Secure in the market from the retail perspective,” Palmer explains.

Local talent, investment-friendly government

The abundance of good local talent and an investment-friendly government were the deciding factors for F-Secure to set up shop here in 2005/6. These factors are still attracting foreign investors, arguably increasingly so.

“Companies are starting to move to Malaysia from places like Singapore, which is getting extremely expensive to operate in… There’s a trend of companies moving their regional HQ out of Singapore to Malaysia,” Palmer says, adding that the nation has “a good talent pool and the government is open to investments”.

“We can get very good people in Malaysia,” highlights Palmer, who had prior experience working in Malaysia for more than three years. He had joined F-Secure six months ago from a company based in Singapore.

F-Secure’s Malaysian office has some 200 staff, of which 15% are foreigners, mostly attached to its customer care unit which provides 24/7 global support in the native language of its customers, such as Japanese, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.

F-Secure is probably one of the few companies that proclaim to have no problem finding talent.

“We do events with universities here to attract local talent. Our security advisor regularly speaks at colleges and universities and that naturally attracts students to approach us. We also have interns from the universities… We attract local talents because they’re aware of us,” Palmer says.

F-Secure is also involved in Multimedia Development Corporation (MDEC)’s “Train the Trainer “programme whereby it trains a number of universities lecturers over a period of five days. The programme runs annually, he adds.

F-Secure has close relationship with MDeC, having received two grants from the latter, an R&D grant of RM6.5mil in May 2007 and a RM3.9 million grant for hiring and training 97 local talent in 2010.

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