Global cyber security expert calls for action against malware

Global cyber security expert calls for action against malware
John Suffolk, Huawei’s global cyber security officer.

SOUTH KOREA - As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, governments and businesses are increasingly exposed to evermore sophisticated cyber threats.

South Korea, one of the world's most wired economies, is no exception, becoming more vulnerable to widespread malicious codes and viruses that have the capability to shut down not only government, but also private sector networks.

South Korea needs to "understand the behaviour of its network systems," meaning detecting irregular patterns flowing through its infrastructure, to preemptively shield its networks, John Suffolk, global cyber security officer for Huawei Technologies, told The Korea Herald during a conference on cyber security last week.

This would help the country boost its "response to changing behaviour, traceability and quickly identify faulty components (in the systems)," in a similar way to how the body's immune system quickly isolates a problem or a virus once it is discovered, the expert from the China-based firm added.

"The whole infrastructure is still weak (worldwide)," said Suffolk, also Huawei's senior vice president. "Interconnection and speed would reshape the world, and at the same time be access points for (further) malicious action."

Economies must approach cyber security with a "forward-thinking" mindset that will lead both the government and businesses to find solutions, foremost from the standpoint of network architecture and design.

This requires collective action that can drive innovation and deploy technology to fight malware, he noted, emphasizing that information sharing is important in helping to develop global standards on cyber protection.

"There are no standards or benchmarks yet," he said. "Sharing information and knowledge to learn from each other would raise the bar for cyber security."

Raising the bar calls for expanded partnerships between the public and private sectors where the government can create incentives for the people or business to build their resources to tackle rising cyber security problems.

As the world already realises the challenges and problems of cyber security, Suffolk stressed that it is time to put those human and technical resources into action.

Huawei's second cyber security white paper announced in Seoul last week was aimed at providing not only information but also possible solutions to cyber threats. The Chinese tech giant issued its first white paper to mostly deal with identifying problems in cyber security last year.

Collective action or partnerships would also have to make everyone "evolve" to counter hackers by pooling their resources together to build independent research and development assessments through various security tests.

The tests would need to involve "a variety of people and technology with different sets of skills" to increase the chance of identifying the problem before it can potentially disrupt a network system, Suffolk advised.

In cyber security, "assume nothing, believe no one and check everything," he said, noting that this is also Huawei's motto it shares with its partners and clients.

Prior to joining Huawei as its key strategic cyber security executive in 2011, Suffolk was the chief information officer for Her Majesty's Government in the UK, and was named as one of the five most influential people in technology along with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the computer scientist who invented the World Wide Web.

Huawei is China's largest network equipment maker, and generates 77 per cent of its annual sales from overseas.

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