As a major manufacturer of PCs and printers, HP plays a vital role to promote cybersecurity as an overall, good practices and all.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

As a major manufacturer of PCs and printers, HP plays a vital role to promote cybersecurity as an overall, good practices and all.

Lionel Chng, Managing Director,
HP Singapore
Lionel Chng, Managing Director, HP Singapore

Let’s talk cybersecurity. Why is it that nobody bats an eyelid about smartphone cameras as we freely stream our lives away, but freak out over potential webcam spying?

With regards of what people are posting on the internet or how they use live streaming, that’s really a topic about cyber wellness. You’re not being well in cyberspace if you’re not behaving responsibility. When it comes to cybersecurity, on your phone or PC, it’s more about whether your passwords are enabled; your malware protection has been updated. In the past, I’d say there was more carelessness on how people stayed up to date, being aware, and took action on these things, but we’re slowly getting there. As malware attacks continue to evolve, companies and individuals have to evolve as well. Simple behavior like whether you should connect to a public Wi-Fi you’re not familiar with; that level of education has to take place.

Do you see a greater understanding of cybersecurity among consumers though?

We’re heartened by the fact that basic cyber wellness and security is being taught now in schools. We’re also heartened that when we speak in various forums about endpoint security, we’re receiving a warmer response rather than an indifferent attitude from companies. The final step is how we ensure good practices, not just at the CIO level, but down to every single employee, because your weakest link is that one guy that opens up the company to a malicious attack. That’s how it starts. That continues to be a challenge.

What’s HP’s role in all of this?

You see, the thing is this. We as a leading MNC in the tech space, we have a responsibility too. And that’s why we came up with basic education in corporate. We shared the entire “Wolf” video series for example to show how easy it is for a cyber attacker, making (the threats) more real to more people. A CIO may understand the threats of a cyberattack, but the board of directors and CEOs may not be as tech savvy. So, we’ve made it so simple to understand through these videos of security, whether printer or PC. Thus far, we’re the only company that’s doing that; promoting the importance from a hardware and endpoint device standpoint.

Some people believe that the only real protection from internet threats is a lockdown. Thoughts?

There are two schools of thought here, you know this. The debate is still ongoing, at least from a PC standpoint, on whether you should isolate (your network). The internet separation of the Singapore government was done in April of last year, and to a large extent, it protected them from different types of attacks that could have happened because there are hundreds of thousands of employees for the government. So, there are pros and cons for each approach.

But malicious attacks are so sophisticated now that it’s getting much harder to notice. Are we doomed?

We are not a vendor of cybersecurity, but we can control what happens within our products. When it comes to basic things like the ability to prevent visual hacking, that’s why we put in the integrated privacy filter in our notebooks. Press one button and the screen goes dark, everyone gets that. But we also have technology that goes well inside a product with the ability to protect all devices in the firmware level. The typical user may not care so much about this, but IT people will appreciate this. We’re helping them manage their devices better too.

How then will a typical user benefit from HP’s hardware security features?

To a large extent, attacks still happen because of carelessness. How we work to address that is having a wider safety net, such as Sure Start BIOS level protection. We’re also the only PC manufacturer that’s also a major printer manufacturer. We know what goes into these powerful printers; there’s a lot of computing power inside a multifunctional printer and copier. It was logical to migrate some of our technology into printers and copiers, so our printers are the most secure in the world too.

By Zachary Chan Photography Darren Chang