Dicker Data's chief operating officer has urged partners to seek alternative cyber security products to Kaspersky as the distributor ends its relationship with the Russian vendor in Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ).
Vlad Mitnovetski told ARN the company has to make the difficult, but just decision to cull ties with Kaspersky over the vendor's controversially "neutral" stance on Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Kaspersky's full distribution has now been taken over by Leader, which signed an A/NZ partnership with the vendor a week before the Russian invasion.
“We, of course, are aligned with the entire Western world to do whatever we can," he said. "This move is basically our statement that we will not be funding this madness and terror – war – in Ukraine."
“It's a little drop in the ocean, but it's our stand.”
Mitnovetski was born in Kyiv and lived in Ukraine until he was 18. Since then, he has regularly returned there, saying his connection to the country, as well as his family and friends, is strong.
Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, Mitnovetski said watching the conflict in his homeland from afar is “absolutely devastating and heartbreaking”.
“Each of us has a responsibility to do whatever we possibly can to stop this terror — this war,” he added.
Mitnovetski’s not the only one at the company who holds this belief; the distributor’s CEO and namesake, David Dicker, is in full support of the move.
“He knows that sometimes people just need to stand and when war's happening, being neutral is not a position. To me, it's unacceptable,” Mitnovetski said.
Within the early days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mitnovetski said he received a letter from Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of the cyber security vendor, addressed to all of its partners.
In the letter, which has been seen by ARN and was dated 28 February, Kaspersky claims that his company was observing the war taking place in the country and would continue to deliver products, updates and financial transactional continuity.
“We are carefully watching the events unfolding in and around Ukraine,” the letter read. “These are challenging and uncertain times and the key priority of the company remains the fulfillment of all of its obligations to our partners and customers.”
Mitnovetski was unimpressed with Kaspersky’s stance, arguing the CEO's key priority should be on stopping the “unjustified and unprovoked” war.
“It was pathetic … What sort of comment is that? This is so terrible,” he said.
Kaspersky’s local arm confirmed to ARN that its partnership with Dicker Data is to come to an end from 30 April, which would leave Leader as the only player in the A/NZ region with distribution rights for Kaspersky.
“We thank the whole Dicker Data team for all their hard work, dedication and support over the past three years and we wish them well,” a statement from Kaspersky read.
“We will be transitioning all distribution to Leader, whom we appointed as a Kaspersky distributor across Australia and New Zealand earlier this year. Together with the Leader team, we’re committed to ensuring a smooth and easy transition.”
When approached for comment on whether Leader would continue its position with Kaspersky, a spokesperson said the distributor is “loyal and [builds] long-term partnerships”.
“Kaspersky is a market leader in security,” Leader’s spokesperson said. “Resellers understand Kaspersky are a global trusted company.
“We will look after all current Kaspersky partners and the change in distribution will not affect their experience.”
Additionally, according to Kaspersky's spokesperson, the vendor's regional businesses are run by local entities and its operational model, which has been in place since 2008, is based on a diversified financial system, meaning they act independently in terms of financial operations and manage partner relationships directly.
“Revenues from Kaspersky A/NZ and APAC [Asia Pacific] businesses are used for variety of purposes, including local operating expenses, local salaries and to make purchases from Kaspersky Switzerland, which has the rights to sell our products around the world,” the spokesperson said.
However, the fact remains that the cyber security vendor’s origins are tied to Russia and is still represented by its CEO on the global stage.
As such, supporting Kaspersky the company financially can be seen as supporting Kaspersky the CEO’s stance.
Regardless, Mitnovetski advocated for partners to look to other vendors for their cyber security needs.
“I would definitely encourage and suggest to all partners to use alternative brands and alternative vendors. We at Dicker Data represent a lot of fantastic vendors already and I would encourage everyone, all partners, to take a stand, because by purchasing Kaspersky, they're funding the war.”
Aside from distancing itself from Kaspersky, Mitnovetski said partners can help out by donating to various charities established to support Ukraine.
One such initiative is being organised by ARN’s parent company, Foundry, which calls on the technology industry across APAC to raise funds to make a collective charitable donation through the Red Cross to help fund urgent humanitarian efforts.
Funds raised through this donation drive will go towards providing medical supplies, emergency relief assistance including shelter, health, water, sanitation and providing basic aid items, as well as helping people restore contact with family members separated by the crisis.
This effort has has raised just shy of $100,000 in two weeks so far, but this is no time for partners to sit on their laurels.
“I just wanted to thank the entire tech community, Australia and New Zealand and Asia Pacific; the amount of support we’re receiving in the last couple of weeks have been absolutely incredible,” Mitnovetski added.
“I feel we're all united in this, but I think we can do more. So, the note of support is amazing, but I think it's important for people to demonstrate their position, how they stand and I'll encourage people to get involved and do more.”