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Huawei’s presence at GITEX this year has been nothing short of impressive and innovative. Huawei UAE very recently appointed cybersecurity expert, Aloysius Cheang to be their Chief Security Officer, making him Huawei’s first CSO in the region.

Telecom Review managed to secure an exclusive interview with Cheang to discuss the country’s cybersecurity landscape and the key takeaways in this space from 2020.

2020 has been an interesting year for cybersecurity. Could you tell us about some of the challenges that were faced during this time and how Huawei overcame them?

Well, in 2020, we have seen that there's a new norm being set where a lot of us are forced to work from home. Working from home means that the traditional security perimeter defense is no longer effective as we have to extend the security controls all the way to your employees’ homes. This also goes for the extended network that you will have to build that extension to your customers’ network as well as our partners’ network.

We are seeing that the primary utilization will drive a need for longer term strategy to be put in place for a zero trust approach to be taken to build security for corporations and organizations. However, in the short run, most companies would probably have to rely on some basic cybersecurity hygiene to manage the current situation. Things like using VPN for access to your corporate network and improving management through credential management controls. Only the right access controls will give you access to the resources you need. Some other things can be done; simple things such as managing passwords by using something more complex and keeping in mind to put your company assets to try not to use them in complex situations.

You are Huawei’s first CSO in the region. Could you tell us a little bit about your experience with the region’s cybersecurity landscape? What are some of your observations in this space?

Cyber Security is moving extremely fast in the Middle East. We can see that the Middle East is in a Renaissance period, whereby there's a lot of requirements for cyber security that drive towards more attention being given to this topic, and that more companies are becoming aware that they need to have a comprehensive end to end cybersecurity strategy. There’s a lot of demand driving the need to build this strategy and this is further emphasize during the pandemic where there's an urgent need for that.

What more can be done to strengthen the cybersecurity landscape in the UAE and how will Huawei cater to the current gaps in this field?

In Huawei, we believe in value creation, together with our customers so that it is a shared success. We believe that there's a need for us to work together with the local ecosystems, to help nurture ecosystems, to build more so called expertise in terms of talent development, and to drive standards and best practices. It is important to set some kind of baseline cybersecurity strategy or hygiene that should be practiced by small and medium enterprises.

There is a need for us to participate even more actively to contribute to the industry and this is what we have set out to do right now, basically to give a call to arms to the UAE to establish it as the region’s trusted cybersecurity hub.

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