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Kaspersky races into Ferrari’s IT heart

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Kaspersky Lab’s sponsorship of Ferrari’s Formula 1 racing team has moved to a new level: it will now also provide Ferrari’s IT security. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK reports from Maranello, Italy.

It was not one of the biggest deals in hi-tech history but, for Kaspersky Lab, a contract announced yesterday aligns it with one of the most iconic brands in the world. The announcement that it will become the IT security provider for Ferrari transforms the image of the brand from protector of the consumer to serious enterprise player.

The announcement, made at the Maranello, Italy, headquarters of the iconic automotive brand, was a coup for Kaspersky: it will replace Trend Micro as Ferrari’s information security provider.

The fact that Kaspersky has been sponsoring Scuderia Ferrari, the Formula 1 racing team, for the past three seasons no doubt helped get the foot in the door, but its software still had to stack up against the best. It underwent six months of compliance testing and benchmarking against competing products.

‚”The point was to analyse what was available in the market and to make a comparison between Kaspersky and others,‚” said Ferrari chief information officer Vittorio Boero at a press conference at Ferrari headquarters in Maranello, Italy.

‚”We had to compare this solution to all other solutions in the same way as for all other forms of IT we use. We had to see if other solutions provided a better level of security and performance than what was currently available in Ferrari. We decided to go with Kaspersky because of the higher level of security we found, and a good level of performance in some cases higher than what we currently have.‚”

Ferrari CIO Vittorio Boero and Kaspersky Lab CTO Nikolay Grebennikov shake on the deal. Photo: Arthur Goldstuck.

Kaspersky Lab worked with the Ferrari ICT department to customize an endpoint solution one where any device must have specific protection before it can access the network to Ferrari’s specific needs. It will be installed on 4,000 computers, while other devices will gradually be included in the implementation.

The project provides a powerful proof or purpose of Kaspersky’s new flagship product, Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business, which firmly establishes it in the enterprise software space. The solution tailored for Ferrari, for example, goes beyond conventional intrusion protection.

‚”To protect our sensitive intellectual property we needed a strong technological partner with a complete, cutting-edge IT security solution,‚” said Boreo. ‚”There have been a few successful intrusions in the past, so you can imagine how carefully we handle this kind of thing. You can also imagine how important a reliable solution is to our daily operations.‚”

The bottom line, he says, was a combination of ‚”the quality of their endpoint product and because they had special customized options that could be developed specifically to meet our needs‚”.

According to Boero, Ferrari more stringent IT security requirements are intended not only to protect its production processes, but also to ensure the safety of drivers during races.

A tour of the Ferrari factory revealed not only one of the most sophisticated production lines in the world, but also a level of automation that would have been impossible without computers. Precision machines, robot arms and moving platforms abound, but humans still assemble the final product.

Ultimately, the Kaspersky Lab software will also be installed on the computers controlling this equipment, and even on employees’ tablets and smartphones.

Kaspersky Lab CTO Nikolay Grebennikov pointed out, globally, that only 1 in 10 companies had implemented a full security policy for mobile devices. ‚”This is despite the fact that one in five companies have reported stolen mobile devices in the last 12 months. In 40% of these incidents, the theft went unreported for more than 24 hours.‚”

Since the announcement of the first sponsorship deal between Ferrari and Kaspersky Lab in 2010, much has been made of the connection between high-performance information security software and high-performance vehicles. The comparison is not misplaced.

Kaspersky Lab founder Eugene Kaspersky, while not present at the announcement, issued a statement from Moscow with that very message:

‚”Although from a very different industry, Kaspersky Lab is linked to Ferrari by two key things – a quest for maximum speed and the drive to find synergies. We’re like the Ferrari of our field – fast to react to immediate threats and provide solutions to them, and fast to stay ahead of the pack and come up with new and original approaches to the security paradigm in general.‚”

The agreement is for a five-year partnership but, says Boero, he hopes that the deal will be just the first stage in the relationship between Ferrari and Kaspersky Lab.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee

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