Huawei's growing footprint in Trinidad and Tobago

Prime Minister Keith Rowley, second from left, shakes hands with president of Huawei Technologies Daniel Zhou during the Huawei IdeaHub donation ceremony at the Carenage Police Youth Club and Homework Centre, Constabulary Street, Carenage in November 2023. File photo by Ayanna Kinsale
Prime Minister Keith Rowley, second from left, shakes hands with president of Huawei Technologies Daniel Zhou during the Huawei IdeaHub donation ceremony at the Carenage Police Youth Club and Homework Centre, Constabulary Street, Carenage in November 2023. File photo by Ayanna Kinsale

HUAWEI Technologies TT says it has the tools to help this country maximise its agricultural output, streamline and optimise healthcare service and make education accessible to even the most remote.

Huawei’s products and services were explored at CANTO's Connect and 40th AGM Celebration at Hyatt Regency Trinidad, Port of Spain, on January 29, the second day of its three-day programme.

Though an ever-growing competitor in the Trinidad and Tobago and global mobile phone market, Huawei has also expanded its telecom solutions products and services, with clients including TSTT and Digicel, government enterprises, and tens of thousands of individual corporate and private citizens.

Huawei in Trinidad and Tobago

Huawei Technologies has had a physical presence in Trinidad for more than 15 years, with a corporate office in Newtown, Port of Spain, and a technical support office comprising exclusively local staff.

Tudor John, Huawei enterprise business director, told Newsday: “We're actually one of the few (vendors) in Trinidad that provide both pre-sales and post-sales support (and one of the) major benefits of Huawei (technology is) we actually have a full team on the ground support.

Tudor John, Hauwei TT enterprise business manager. - Photo by Roger Jacob

“And, unlike a lot of our competitors, we don’t just have representation, we actually have locals working in our office in Trinidad,” he said.

These include including sales, support, finance and human resources.

Tudor said a customer experience centre will be opened by the end of this year.

While the brand has been synonymous with smart devices, its business footprint in Trinidad and Tobago has continued to spread, as it expanded its tech solutions for entire industries and sectors, such as education and security.

It is also marketing its success in agriculture, providing technology to maximise harvests.

Huawei focused largely on its growth in the cyber security model, capitalising on its all-encompassing hardware and software design.

Fight against cyber crime

Andrew Watson, global government industry expert at Huawei’s Enterprise Business Group, spoke of cyber security threats and their impact on national security and business profitability in a presentation.

Andrew Watson, Huawei global government industry expert. - Photo by Roger Jacob

Watson suggested that cyber crime hasn’t necessarily become more sophisticated in recent years but rather manipulative.

The basic rules of cyber security still apply. Firewalls are necessary and passwords are stronger, longer and more complex.

“We know from industry analysis that roughly 95 per cent of passwords used are instantly brute-force attackable,” said Watson, adding that tools to do this are found easily on the dark web.

But beyond passwords, attacks are becoming more prevalent, and ransomware is a proven lucrative enterprise for criminals.

“The question cyber-criminals ask is, ‘Why bother breaking down passwords, brute-forcing them, trying to get past firewalls…when I can send you a message and you will, very helpfully, click on it – and when you click on it, you introduce ransomware into your network?’ What’s easier than that?”

HUAWEI EXECUTIVES: Andrew Watson, global government industry expert, left; Tudor John, enterprise business director; and Francisco Soto, wireless solutuions chief expert, at CANTO Connect Forum and 40th AGM on Monday at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain. - Photo by Roger Jacob

Is it less frequently applied with an e-mail attachment?

“That’s quite uncommon because most network defence firewalls will detect it and recognise it as ransomware.

"But if someone sends you a message with a link in it, there’s no way of knowing where that link goes and what it does. If you click on the link, chaos happens – this piece of code runs about your network looking for anything that looks like storage and anything that looks like files, and it applies its own version of encryption,” he said. The code then prevents the user getting access to these files.

Usually, a ransom demand follows, with a promise of the access key in return.

Ransomware crime is one of the fastest-growing criminal enterprises, if not the fastest. costing US$20 billion in 2023, and is estimated to rise to $265 billion by 2027, Watson said, taking into account lost opportunity, hardware replacement, recovery and forensic expenses.

The average recovery time is 16 days for medium-size businesses – long enough to cripple many.

“Most cannot physically function without access to their data,” Watson said.

Ransomware looks for basic file-saving environments, he reiterated in a later conversion with Newsday.

“By clicking on a link, on a message, you have opened up the communication channel. So you've authenticated that with an effect and it's quite difficult to stop that.

“Once I click the message, the ransomware is theoretically coming to my network. But I've got to stop it getting to files."

To solve this, the initial file, like a spreadsheet, goes into worm status. Worm is a type of malicious software that replicates rapidly across devices in a network.

“It cannot (be released) from that temporary Worm status to the normal storage unless the network services software tells it there is no ransomware in the network,” Watson said.

In a crisis scenario, there is regular storage, worm storage and backup storage at three locations.

Education solutions

Speaking after his presentation, Watson, John and other Huawei representatives gave a private demonstration of Huawei’s global impact in areas of education, healthcare and agriculture in developed and developing countries.

“We now support totally targeted industries with industry-specific solutions,” Watson said.

“Enabling that sort of transformation – the network transformation, how students collaborate, how teachers engage students: we provide those sort of solutions.

Huawei TT's graduating interns for 2023. - Photo courtesy Huawei TT

“We have the hardware, the IdeaHub (interactive display), the networking devices, the Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 7 access points, as well as with our partners in the ecosystem. We have things like the learning management system, the identity and access management system.

“So this is where, you know, it becomes much more than just selling a box…This is where we incorporate all of these into a solution and present it back to the government.”

He said Huawei is eager to partner with the State and provide solutions for government departments and arms.

“I believe Huawei is well poised to partner with the government, especially with the Ministry of Digital Transformation, and engage in these conversations about digital transformation,” Tudor said.


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