The cybersecurity industry is looking ahead to a new era of ensuring security, safety and resiliency of ICT systems. Aloysius Cheang, Chief Security Officer at Huawei UAE, discusses Huawei's potential contribution to the advancement of not only the cybersecurity industry but also the next generation of cybersecurity professionals in an exclusive interview with Telecom Review.

How will Huawei leverage the GITEX platform to collaborate with stakeholders in cyberspace to ensure end-to-end cybersecurity solutions?

This year, as per our theme, our team is unleashing digital. We are trying to maximize the returns of digital transformation. To do that, we must ensure that digital solutions are built on a solid foundation, enabling cybersecurity right from day one. So cybersecurity must be designed for all the emerging technologies we are bringing together, whether AI, blockchain, Cloudor 5G, with cybersecurity built in from the ground up. Only when you have the foundation secure and building the resiliency can your digital assets be guaranteed and always protected if you decide to enter the metaverse.

Hyper-connectivity has allowed businesses to value-add to their offerings; however, at the same time, the attack surfaces are expanding thanks to nefarious actors. What new strategies should governments and enterprises adopt to protect their business-critical assets? How is Huawei using threat intelligence using AI?

Automation is one of the solutions, but I think we should not take a piecemeal approach to the challenge. Instead, we should take one step back and look at the problem in totality. We need to have a comprehensive strategy for cybersecurity today. We must be proactive to stop perpetrators right before things happen because it's too late once you cross the line.

A presentation I saw demonstrated how malicious actors could cause loss of life by targeting the operating technology systems – for example, a power plant – and re-programming it for self-destruction. So it's time we take one step and reset the rules for CSOs. The CSO today is more than just a technical leader; in the digital world, they are the new gatekeepers of every organization. As a CSO, you are part of the core executive team that holds all the risk controls to protect corporate assets. During my keynote at GITEX, I will propose we reset the rules for the CSO to usher in the new age of the CSOs. 

Enterprises are increasingly adopting a cloud-first strategy for their businesses. However, there is no one-size-fits-all security strategy in such a diverse domain as the cloud. From an Industry 4.0 perspective, please tell us how Huawei is providing cloud-centric security solutions across verticals.

We need to take a more holistic approach. A defense-in-tech approach puts cybersecurity as a primary ingredient you put in place right from the start. But for the cloud, we must ensure that we build it with security. When we develop our cloud security strategy, we ensure that it goes through the most stringent third-party audits and achieves credentials that are a globally-recognized gold standard for cloud security.

The UAE's Cyber Security Council has constantly stressed the importance of skilled talents to meet the needs of the digital economy amidst rising cyber threats. How is Huawei's expertise in cybersecurity contributing to this crucial mandate?

Emiratization is the solution. We cannot continue depending on talents from outside the country because of the possibility of external environmental factors affecting this supply. We need to consider this: what will you do in a worst-case scenario where you cannot find talent from overseas? So through Emiratization, you can build and sustain knowledge within the UAE ecosystem.

To support this initiative, last week, we announced, together with the Abu Dhabi Polytechnic, the nation's first cybersecurity lab. This is an institute for higher learning, training, and instilling cybersecurity skillsets in Emiratis. In collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Polytechnic and the UAE Cybersecurity Council, we launched the Cyber Pulse Innovation Center, which has offered scholarships to Emiratis interested in joining the profession. We are enabling the students to join the cybersecurity industry with real-life experience through internships with Huawei, our partners and within our network of partners.

So, this is the start of the journey, but it's not the end. We are ushering in a new age of systems.

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