F-Secure Corporation is a global cybersecurity and privacy company with over 30 offices worldwide and headquartered in Helsinki, Finland. With a presence in more than 100 countries throughout the four corners of the world, the company is renowned for building award-winning detection and response solutions and offers world-class cybersecurity services to keep businesses and people safe.

F-Secure regional director (Asia Pacific) Yong Meng Hong

SME & ENTREPRENEURSHIP MAGAZINE recently caught up with F-Secure’s regional director (Asia-Pacific) Yong Meng Hong to get insights into the company and latest cybersecurity trends.

Could you describe to us what F-Secure is all about and your role within the corporation?

Nobody has better visibility into real-life cyber attacks than F-Secure. We are closing the gap between detection and response, utilising hundreds of our industry’s best technical consultants, millions of devices running our award-winning software, and ceaseless innovations in artificial intelligence. Top banks and enterprises trust our commitment to beating the world’s most potent threats. Together with our network of the top channel partners and over 200 service providers, F-Secure is on a mission to make sure everyone has the enterprise-grade cyber security we all need.

As F-Secure’s regional director of Asia-Pacific, I oversee quite a number of countries throughout Asia-Pacific, while also reporting back to our corporate headquarters in Helsinki, Finland. However, the message to the various markets is the same: That cyberthreats are and will continue to be on the rise in the digital economy, which is why organisations should always stay ahead of hackers and protect its data and interest with the best cybersecurity solutions. The best cybersecurity solutions are of course from F-Secure.

Should SMEs take cyberthreats seriously – some SMEs view it as an unnecessary cost; do you agree?

Companies should always view cybersecurity protection as an investment, and not a cost. In this context, they should consider partnering with cybersecurity specialists like F-Secure to always keep them safe – and at affordable prices.

As the number of connected devices and services continue to rise, the security challenge will become increasingly complex. Dedicated cyberattacks are becoming more advanced – and even more alarming. Criminals are now looking towards companies of all sizes – including SMEs – by taking advantage of vulnerabilities in popular software and online services.

With more and more companies coming online, so too would the risks of cyberthreats. The threat landscape of today has evolved significantly in recent years. Behind cyberattacks are real criminals, and naturally, to avoid becoming at their mercy, organisations must always stay a few steps ahead of them.

On that note, I would say that ransomware is on the rise, such as the ‘WannaCry’ ramsomware attack that took place in 2017.  Even Malaysian SMEs were not spared. How ransomware works is basically through blackmail. Cyber criminals design and flood the world with programmes meant to lock users out of one of their key resources, data, then proceed to extort them for money in exchange for freeing those resources. This works well for two main reasons.

The first is that the criminals ask for sums of money, which they usually position as ‘affordable’. The second is that data security is one of the areas in which many businesses are most lax in. The combination is quite, unfortunately, effective. Users infected by the threat were unable to use their machines unless they pay a ransom. In that way, it’s ‘crimeware’ as it takes advantage of vulnerabilities for extortion purposes.

Education is key to counter cyberthreats. An ideal approach can be boiled down to four words; Predict, prevent, detect and respond. This four-phase approach also means that, even if a threat does manage to bypass protective measures, all is not lost. The affected device can still be identified and isolated, so that the damage can be contained.

Closest thing to a ‘silver bullet’ against cyberthreats is of course F-Secure’s sophisticated cybersecurity solutions which combine the power of machine learning with the human expertise of our world-renowned security labs, one of which is here in Kuala Lumpur. The other lab is in Helsinki, Finland where our headquarters is located.

What’s F-Secure’s value proposition for SMEs? How do you ease this burden on SMEs as some may not have the resources to have all areas looked at and protected?

F-Secure’s endpoint solutions includes multiple layers of protection technology to efficiently and effectively block common threats, as well as F-Secure’s endpoint solution which includes multiple layers of protection technology to efficiently and effectively block common threats, as well as zero-day and APT attacks. We also provide instant, real-world threat intelligence that’s always up to date. Signature-based detection is complemented by behavioral and heuristic protection, sandboxing and other technologies, all adding up to next-generation business protection.

With F-Secure receiving awards in independent tests multiple years, our technology’s effectiveness at stopping malware in its tracks has been proven time and time again.

It has been reported that F-Secure is pivoting to a services-based enterprise model. Please elaborate.

F-Secure’s operations comprise two main divisions – corporate and consumer – serving the three main markets of consumer cybersecurity, corporate cybersecurity, and cybersecurity consulting. We operate in three growing markets where the fast-changing digitalised world creates new opportunities. Our business security software focuses on the mid-market segment through an extensive partner network, whereas the enterprise customers are served directly by our outcome-based solution portfolio, which includes Managed Detection and Response (MDR) and consulting.

At my end, I oversee corporate cybersecurity which is based on ‘cybersecurity as a service’. F-Secure Elements is our cloud-based platform which addresses endpoint protection, endpoint detection and response, collaboration protection, and vulnerability management. The Elements platform was created and launched in mid-2021 to empower organisations with fast, flexible, and easy access to cybersecurity services.

Available from F-Secure’s service partners with fixed-term license subscriptions, or usage-based billing for greater flexibility, F-Secure Elements empowers organisations to choose cybersecurity services on terms that accommodate their needs. Having comprehensive situational awareness and meaningful visibility across operations, the platform ensures efficient workflows and faster responses to cyberthreats through our artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. There is also an on-demand option to elevate difficult cases to F-Secure experts.

With the transparency on usage provided via F-Secure Elements’ detailed invoicing for usage-based billing, organisations can make informed decisions on how to control security investments to prevent paying for idle licenses, or services they don’t need – hence saving them money. Usage-based pricing helps organisations develop and adjust their security capabilities to focus on outcomes, and move from ownership to user-ship.

How does F-Secure demonstrate value to customers?

F-Secure’s definition of ‘outcome-based security’ is to demonstrate the value that comes from our solutions and expertise for customers, and to establish that both great technology and deep human expertise is needed alongside the deep partnership between the company and our stakeholders.

Several digitisation trends in have also led to a greater need for cybersecurity. It is clear that the world is now is one that is data-driven and algorithmic, which means that these algorithms and data need to be protected; from a business processes perspective, and also from an individual perspective.

As mentioned earlier, one F-Secure’s strengths is our expertise of combining technology and real-world expertise. This is because it is challenging to solve cybersecurity problems with products alone. However, if you combine them with the expertise of our people, you can have a real ‘win-win’ situation. This is why F-Secure has obtained the most Best Protection AV-TEST awards since inception. What’s more, the best-in-class results in an independent evaluation by MITRE has confirmed F-Secure’s industry-leading capabilities, and we have been recognised by Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice for Vulnerability Assessment.

We also have partners who use F-Secure products, and we offer them the ability to escalate major issues to F-Secure directly. Customers who do not necessarily have the capability in their own team to manage our platform can have us come in to do it for them via our MDR (managed detection and response) services, and cybersecurity consultancy is also part of our product offering.

Long and short of it all, we are able to offer a range of commercial models, including the standard licensing model, subscriptions, usage-based pricing, and outcome-based models. Our success also comes from the success of partners. We are continuously supporting them through partner programmes and competence development.

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