THE GUARDIAN OF COMPUTER SYSTEMS

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Kris Hagerman, chief executive officer of Sophos, at the company’s Shared Services Center in the Philippines

When people think about computer viruses and malware, many think downloading a free anti-virus is normally enough to do the job. In many cases, it probably will, but today’s malware have become much more complex than when the world first heard about a computer virus some 30 years ago. Many would have heard horror stories about viruses that fill a computer screen with garbage or delete files. Today, the threats have evolved to more than mere pranks or sabotage. They are low profile, well targeted, and more likely to be about making cash than chaos. That is why Internet and data security have become indispensable in our modern tech-driven life. Companies, huge conglomerates, the military and governments around the world scramble to get the best Internet and data security there is, as well as people who dedicate their career lives to fight malware and think one step ahead of cybercriminals. Welcome to the world of Kris Hagerman.

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As chief executive officer of Sophos, Hagerman said that it is incumbent upon them to make sure they are constantly updated on the new and constant information technology security threats. Sophos is a privately held United Kingdom-based developer and vendor of security software and hardware. It provides endpoint, encryption, email, web, mobile and network security as well as Unified Threat Management products. The company was put up in 1985, when it first began producing its first antivirus and encryption products. It currently has offices in both the UK and the United States, as well as subsidiaries in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore and Spain, and has more that 1,700 employees scattered around the world. It currently has more than 100 million users in 150 countries that rely on its complete security solutions as their protection against complex threats and data loss.

In November 2013, Sophos formally opened it first Shared Services Center Center (SSC) in the Philippines to provide dedicated, round-the-clock level 1 support services to customers across Asia Pacific (APAC) and globally. Hagerman personally presided over the formal opening ceremonies himself, accompanied by the company’s Managing Director for Asia Pacific, Stuart Fisher. According to Hagerman, the Manila SSC is currently staffed with over 70 support engineers and customer care specialists, of which 15 are dedicated to the APAC region. He added that the Manila office is an integral part of the Sophos worldwide support organization, providing support 24/7 to customers and partners around the globe.

Support services edge
During the interview with The Manila Times, Hagerman said that, “one of the many differentiators that sets us apart from the competition is the excellence of our support services. Every customer and partner globally has round-the-clock access to technical help and comprehensive resources wherever they are, every day of the year.” Their target market, Hagerman said, is the mid-market enterprises, as well as those he calls “pragmatic enterprises.” The bottom-line, he said, is “we deliver complete IT [information technology]security, so our customers can focus on their real businesses, such as retail, manufacturing, finance, healthcare and schools among others.”

Hitting a more personal note are the threats one receives on their mobile devices, especially smartphones. If there is an irritating yet very common virus called Adware in computers—which is a software that displays advertisements on your computer, there is the equivalent in mobile phones, where everything is advertised from real estate to elaborate financial schemes that turn out to be a fraud. It becomes worse when they not only clog your messages, but you actually pay for international charges when they text you and you happen to be out of the country. Mobile phone malware also spreads fake antivirus applications and steals confidential information.

Because of the constant security threats on IT globally, Hagerman often finds himself traveling from one country to another too, as he checks on the work and support that his people does to keep their customers satisfied and updated. “I do a lot of traveling, but its part of what I enjoy most about my world. Getting out and listening to customers and partners is probably the most fun part of my job.”

Like most career executives, he also tries to keep a balance between work and family. “When I’m home I try to really be home. I try to not be constantly on my Iphone or my mobile devices when I’m home with the family, so the time I spend with them is really quality time.” The Sophos chief executive officer beams as he talks about his children too. “My wife and I have two 15-year old twins, a boy and a girl.” Like most parents, he shares his hobbies and passions with his family whenever he can. “I’m a pretty avid outdoor athlete. I surf, I windsurf, I’m a cyclist and a runner, I spend a lot of time in the winter skiing and spending time backpacking and climbing,” Hagerman said.

Looking back at his career, which is mostly into technology, he said that he never really planned it that way. He laughed when asked about his bachelor’s degree in Russian and economics, but said that he really just followed his passions, one of which is technology and how it can be applied to help people. For now, he said, he is focused on delivering his company’s promise to make security made simple. As for his other passions, Hagerman said, “it will all be in good time.”

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