Features, Insight, Interviews

Huawei CSO calls for a collaborative approach to fight cybersecurity

CNME Editor Mark Forker spoke to Aloysius Cheang, CSO, Huawei UAE, onsite at GISEC 2021, to find out how the global ICT vendor is investing in its own cybersecurity lab to create better solutions to keep its customers protected – and how countries need to abandon geopolitics to create a global security framework designed to address the ever-evolving cybersecurity threats in the digital economy.

The last time CNME spoke to Aloysius Cheang, was during GITEX Technology Week in December 2020, but the cybersecurity ecosystem is once again under the microscope following a spate of high-profile and hugely damaging ransomware attacks that have occurred over the last few months.

Cheang has enjoyed a decorated and distinguished career in cybersecurity, that has seen him work in different global markets, so there is arguably nobody better placed to comment on the ongoing situation.

According to Huawei’s UAE CSO, these threats have always been present, but companies are now more vulnerable as a direct result of digital transformation.

“These attacks have always been there, but the security landscape has changed drastically since COVID-19, and as a result more enterprises have become digitalised. Businesses have been forced to transition to a remote working environment and that has presented new challenges in terms of cyber hygiene amongst employees”, said Cheang.

Interestingly, Cheang also pointed out that ransomware attacks had now become mainstream in the public domain because unlike in the past it was now affecting people on a much larger scale.

“In the past these ransomware attacks were happening, but to be frank, nobody really cared because it was not impacting them, but now these ransomware attacks are impacting people and it has changed their attitude to these cyberattacks, and personal experience counts better than anything else”, said Cheang.

The charismatic CSO at Huawei UAE, is always an extremely enlightening executive to speak to, but he was robust in reinforcing his belief that many enterprises need to change tact when it comes to their security blueprint.

“Businesses simply have to revise their security strategy from the top down, as the old approach to security is now inadequate and not fit for purpose. Your home is now an extension of your office, so if your infiltrated, you have no idea where the hack has come from. In the office you felt safe, but now employees feel exposed. Wi-Fi is an inherent design flaw, it is an unsecured connection, so right from the off you are vulnerable when working remotely and this is a major challenge for businesses to overcome”, said Cheang.

Huawei have produced some of the best technology and ICT solutions in the world, but they are also placing a huge emphasis on their security portfolio – and have invested heavily into their cybersecurity research lab to equip enterprises with the products they need to better protect themselves in the digital economy.

“Internally, we examine our cybersecurity strategy and look at ways in which we can improve it and make it better. We have an end-to-end cybersecurity insurance framework that enables us to embed security into every aspect of our business – and we also have invested significantly into our cybersecurity research lab, which is designed to create our own security technologies that will help the security ecosystem fightback against these bad actors. At Huawei, we always think about security and privacy first”, said Cheang.

Cheang bemoaned the geopolitics at play, which has caused the global security ecosystem to be so fractured and fragmented – and has called for a collective approach to tackle the major issues that are facing the industry.

“In the UAE, we actively support public and private partnerships that are designed to drive and cultivate better cybersecurity. We do not want to get dragged into geo-political issues, we are solely focused on developing technologies that will make us and our customers globally better protected and that is what we strive to achieve. The security community in its current state is very fragmented and is geo-political – and that needs to change if we are serious about really tackling these threats that are in some cases having a devastating economic impact on businesses across multiple industries as we have witnessed in the last few months”, said Cheang.

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