Aviva Zacks of Safety Detectives sat down with Guy Rosefelt, CMO of Sangfor, and asked him about how his company works within the Asian culture by understanding their unique use cases. Click here to read the article on Safety Detectives
Guy Rosefelt: I’ve been doing this for a very long time. To prove how long I’ve been doing it, there is a 40-year-old book called “The Cuckoo’s Egg,” which talks about one of the first major cybersecurity hacking attempts where somebody tried to hack an organization through other organizations and military units around the world, one of which I was working at. I was on the team that was trying to figure out who was trying to hack into our organization. It’s been a very interesting ride along the way, too, because I started out seeing a lot of things.
When I first started, nobody knew what cybersecurity was. The internet was fairly new at that point to the commercial marketplace, but, even at that time, there were a lot of bad things happening that people weren’t picking up on. Because I was in the United States Air Force where I was building secure networks for closed systems and ones that tied into the internet, I understood that bad things could potentially happen.
GR: It’s never boring, so you don’t get tired of doing the same thing over and over again and you can’t get complacent. No matter what you do, no matter what problem you solve, no matter what attack you’ve been able to identify and resolve, the bad guys are going to figure out another way of doing it.
I’ve written blog posts and magazine articles making some dire predictions that probably within the next 5 to 10 years, the internet as we know it’s going to collapse because of things that are happening around the world today. My job is never going to be boring; things are going to keep happening, moving to that potential collapse. People are going to want to protect themselves and need to know how. It’s challenging, it’s interesting, and it’s something cool to talk about at cocktail parties.
GR: Sangfor is a very large international technology company. We do infrastructure, SD-WAN, wireless, VPN, application security, network security, threat hunting products, endpoint security products, virtual desktops, and hyper-converged infrastructure cloud stuff. We’re just releasing our cloud SASE environment to the international market.
We want to show that infrastructure and security solutions are not mutually exclusive, and a lot of our solutions show we can integrate infrastructure pieces together with the security pieces to help make people more secure or at least be able to see things that are happening around them better than they could before.
GR: Sangfor Technologies’ core customer is probably mid-sized to large enterprises, usually in either commercial manufacturing or government. We have about 20% of the Fortune Global 500 as customers, banks, manufacturing, communications. We have government customers and education customers. We have small customers and big customers. Most of our customer base is predominantly in the Asia-Pacific region but we are growing rapidly in EMEA as well.
GR: Most of our technology was manufactured and designed in Asia. We handpick products that we bring to the international market because we think they’re competitive or they’re really cool. That’s the part that makes it interesting as you would think that endpoint security is endpoint security, and you think a firewall is a firewall. Well, what you come to find out is, because of the way the Asian cultures are, they have a lot of use cases that we would not see or think about outside of Asia in the international marketplace.
We’ve built some very exciting technology for these use cases that no one else has. We thought we could take products that have these kinds of technology and bring them to the international marketplace, which gives us a competitive edge.
GR: Right now, number one is ransomware. Ransomware is endemic but is a secondary issue to what is coming down the line because the biggest threat we’re seeing right now is that the bad guys have learned how to weaponize artificial intelligence. They’re building AI into malware, which is one of the reasons that ransomware is almost 100% successful. Ransomware gets through because you can have firewalls, email scanners, and endpoint security, but the AI is smarter than most of the solutions that most people have implemented. Now that they’ve learned how to weaponize this AI for the ransomware payload, the next step is going to be weaponizing any other payload that they want to use. It’s going to get more difficult to identify and block malware and APTs coming down the line.
GR: One of the things that we saw at the beginning of the pandemic was we had to shut down. Everybody had to work from home, and we are one of the biggest VPN vendors in Asia. Overnight, we had to deploy all the VPN stuff so all our guys could use it from home securely. And it turns out, we were no different than most anybody else. We have a lot of customers who, last year, had digital transformation plans that were three to five years out, and they had to implement them virtually overnight. We had a ton of orders come in for people who had to expand or deploy new VPN infrastructures, to be able to put new firewall gateways in place, to be able to figure out how they’re going to protect their data.
We saw a lot of people spend a lot of money to give them the ability to function and have business continuity remotely for the last year. They had to toss long-term digital transformation plans right out the window because they had to buy stuff and deploy as quickly as possible. They went for utility and functionality at the expense of security. So, security was still a secondary consideration at that point because they had to get it up and running and they’d worry about the security part later. So, now a year down the line, we’re starting to see the security issues cropping up with our customers.