THE biggest seller of antivirus software in the EU is expanding its British base in Bournemouth.

ESET – named the most successful company from its native Slovakia for three years running – is the fifth biggest antivirus provider globally, with 100 million users.

It held an official opening for its new base at Holland House in Oxford Road, Bournemouth, with guests from business and Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns.

Its chief executive, Richard Marko, visited for the opening.

“ESET has really been a part of the industry from the very beginning,” he told the Daily Echo.

Originally based in Charminster with 12 staff, ESET’s local operation now has 60 people and is looking to expand to 100 within the next two years.

Its expansion comes amid heightened concern about cyber security, after the WannaCry ransomware attack hit the NHS last year and the decision by the government to drop Russian-owned antivirus provider Kaspersky.

Mr Marko said: “The late Stephen Hawking said once the compute virus should be considered as a form of life. Probably many people might still remember the early viruses like Melissa and those kind of things, and big epidemics like the Morris worm.

“During the last 10 years, the situation changed and so it stopped being about big epidemics around the world and more like a huge number of smaller and bigger viruses.

“WannaCry actually was different in that, one more time, we had a virus that was everywhere. The number of victims around the world was really high.”

Mr Marko said: “The industry is about trust.

“We’ve tried to establish ourselves as a reliable, really high tech venture. We’ve gone step by step to build our reputation and position in this market.”

Most of ESET’s Bournemouth jobs are in sales and marketing, with technical staff at a second operation in Taunton.

ESET’s UK managing director, Malcolm Tuck, said: “Bournemouth has proved to be a really good base for us. We’ve established ourselves well in this area and have built up a tremendously strong team with vast amounts of expertise.

“We want to continue to build upon this. We are developing ever-closer relationships with local businesses and consumers as well as partnerships with local business networking groups such as Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Business South.”

Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns said: “It is fantastic to see such a dynamic business demonstrate its commitment to Bournemouth and Britain with its ambitious expansion plan. With the digital and creative talent available at Bournemouth University, and this area being one of the fastest growing digital economies, ESET have made an excellent choice of location.”