F-Secure Regional Director of APAC and Japan, Keith Martin, flew into Singapore to ink a major regional partnership agreement with ACE Pacific Group. Timothy Shim from Tech Barrista and I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Martin about cybersecurity trends in Asia Pacific and worldwide.
Tech ARP Interviews Keith Martin
Keith Martin is the Head of Asia Pacific Corporate Business, F-Secure. Here was our exclusive interview with Mr. Martin after he officially signed the APAC partnership agreement with ACE Pacific Group.
The Cybersecurity Business
Tech ARP : How has your long experience in Japan helped you with F-Secure’s business in Japan?
Keith Martin : Japan is one of the largest market for F-Secure, and we are trying to replicate that (success) in the APAC region.
Tech ARP : Are you still based in Japan?
Keith Martin : Yes, but I have now racked up a lot of frequent flyer miles.
Tech ARP : What are your thoughts on the cybersecurity market in the APJ (Asia Pacific and Japan) region?
Keith Martin : Japan is a large market, but the growth rates are relatively stable. We look at the Asia Pacific region (which includes India, Australia and New Zealand), as the next source of growth for F-Secure.
Tech ARP : What are your plans, and areas of focus, for the APJ region?
Keith Martin : Without question, Singapore is going to be a major focus for F-Secure, as well as Australia and New Zealand. We just signed a major partnership agreement with ACE Pacific, which will be a cornerstone of our strategy in coming years.
Tech ARP : Chinese and Russian companies have been hit by accusations of cyber espionage and hacking, loose security and/or inserting backdoors into their products. Do you see this as a good opportunity to promote F-Secure’s products, or is this a poison pill for the entire industry?
Keith Martin : I don’t think it’s a poison pill for the entire industry. I have never seen any direct evidence that these go beyond mere accusations, but I understand the need to be cautious. One of the things that F-Secure is proud of is our policy that we will never add a backdoor into our products.
We are willing to walk away from any business if it means adding a backdoor. This is just the way we operate, because Finland has extremely tough privacy laws.
I think it’s absolutely an opportunity for us to differentiate ourselves (from the other cybersecurity companies) with our public pledge never to add backdoors in our software.
Tech ARP : Some countries like China and Russia are demanding access to encryption keys, and in some cases, requiring registration of VPN services. How do those tightening laws affect F-Secure products like Freedome VPN?
Keith Martin : F-Secure is very focused on maintaining the security of our products, so if those are the requirements, we will decline and get out of those markets. We would rather walk away from the potential business, than compromise the security of our products.
Tech Barrista : On the geopolitical implications of malware, do you feel that governments are increasingly more focused on cybersecurity on a national scale?
Keith Martin : For sure. We now see nation states attacking each other. There’s no denying that fact. Look at Stuxnet, that malware (which was targeted at Iran) got released into the wild and suddenly, people have the technology to use it elsewhere for nefarious purposes. I think that any country that does not pay attention to cybersecurity is sticking their heads into the sand.
Tech Barrista : Do you feel that this presents a greater opportunity for F-Secure?
Keith Martin : It represents opportunity, of course, but our mission as a company is to stop the spread of malware and cybersecurity attacks, wherever they happen. It’s a kind of Catch-22 situation, where we wish that nation states would not attack each other, but yes, we have the opportunity to help them protect themselves against such attacks.
Tech ARP : What is F-Secure doing to promote and enhance source code transparency? Like opening up transparency centers?
Keith Martin : At this point in time, there are no plans to do so. We have a very good reputation throughout our 30-year history of being straightforward and upfront. I have never seen any accusations against us of malicious activities.
Tech ARP : Does F-Secure allow corporations or countries with concerns to inspect their code?
Keith Martin : I don’t know of any specific situations in Asia Pacific where F-Secure has allowed this. It may have been allowed in other regions, where governments have specific concerns, but I’m not aware of those situations.
Tech ARP : Ransomware and phishing attacks are big problems these days. Can you detail how F-Secure can help users prevent or mitigate the risks of ransomware and/or phishing attacks.
Keith Martin : Third-party analysis of our software show that we are actually better at detecting these 0-day attacks than any other companies out there. We pride ourselves in detecting not just the malware we know about, but also the malware we don’t about, using technologies we have been developing over the last 20 years.
We have a multi-layered engine, where we use everything from the basic pattern matching technology, to heuristics, etc. so that if it doesn’t catch the malware on the first layer, it will catch the malware on the second or third or fourth layer.
Tech Barrista : Is malware-as-a-service now common?
Keith Martin : It is becoming more and more common. The entry barrier to launching a malware attack is now much lower due to the ability to outsource the creation of the malware.
Cybersecurity Risks Of IoT Devices
Tech Barrista : With cybercriminals leveraging the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence, how much more complex do you see the cybersecurity landscape becoming?
Keith Martin : It’s becoming incredibly complex. Our Chief Research Officer Mikko Hypponen said, “Once you connect something to the Internet, it’s vulnerable“. Billions of devices connected to the Internet become potential attack vectors for cybercriminals.
Most IoT devices don’t have good security. If you can get into one of those devices, you can get into the network through them.
Tech ARP : Does F-Secure have any products to mitigate the risks of poorly-secured IoT devices?
Keith Martin : On the consumer side, we have F-Secure Sense, which protects every device on your network.
Keith Martin’s Professional Bio
Keith Martin has been Country Manager for F-Secure Japan for 2 years, before being promoted in February 2018 to oversee the entire Asia Pacific region.
Prior to joining F-Secure in 2015, he spent a decade in the telephony and contact center space, first working for four years in Avaya Japan as Director of Multinational Account Sales, followed by six years serving as Japan Country Manager for Interactive Intelligence, a pioneer in cloud contact center technology.
Before that, Keith also spent three years at internet startup ValueCommerce helping build their web hosting platform business before the company was acquired by Yahoo Japan. He got his start at global IT services provider EDS (now HP), delivering IT services to numerous financial industry accounts.
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