In August 2023, SealingTech was selected to represent the United States at Cyber Mission Asia in Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan. This prestigious event, which was requested by the host nations, promoted global cybersecurity of critical infrastructure. SealingTech was honored to showcase its expertise and contribute toward creating a safer digital landscape globally at the several-day event held in September 2023. We finally got a chance to connect with the world-traveling team to get their thoughts on the experience and figure out why SealingTech is the expert team being sought after by our foreign partners.
QUESTION: SealingTech hadn’t done a lot of international trips before Cyber Mission Asia. How did this trip come about?
WADE SAUNDERS: The US Department of Commerce contacted us with an opportunity for SealingTech to interview for these opportunities while at InfoSec Europe. In short, we were recruited based on our past performance within the Department of Defense (DoD). Our interview was in front of a panel of approximately 12 US Department of Commerce representatives with responsibilities in different countries. This is how we were approved to participate.
ED SEALING: SealingTech’s work with the DoD has always extended to our international allies. The world continues to see the use of cyber effects as a precursor for kinetic warfare. With increased cyber capabilities and threats from Russia, China, North Korea, and others in the Asian geopolitical space, it’s more important than ever that the US build mutually beneficial relationships with our partners in that part of the world. When the US Dept of Commerce reached out about joining in this mission, we quickly saw that it aligned with both our business goals as well as our goals of helping the overall security of cyberspace with our international partners.
Q: That sounds exciting! What do you do for SealingTech that prompted you to be one of the members of the small team who attended?
WADE: I am an account manager with international experience through my military background with International Security Cooperation. With this knowledge, I was selected to lead SealingTech’s international sales program under the leadership of Ed Sealing (CTO) and David Shortt (Sales Director).
ED: This was an executive-led trade mission that included high-level US officials, including the honorable Don Graves, Deputy Secretary of Commerce, and Laurie Locascio, the Director of the US National Institute of Standards and Technology – NIST.
As someone who has been involved with cyber warfare in some capacity for 20 years, both in and out of uniform, I felt I had something to offer the delegation and our partners.
Q: When you set out, what were you hoping would come out of a trip of this magnitude?
WADE: When this started, I would have said exposure to foreign markets and sales; but we soon realized that although that is a secondary effect, this was a much bigger part of US National Strategy to protect and show solidarity with our partners in the Indo-Pacific region. The goal of maintaining free markets and host nation security (cyber and otherwise) is a goal we all should share and is in the interest of the global community.
Q: That sounds big. Were you nervous about this experience?
WADE: Absolutely, but we had a great SealingTech leadership team on the ground and other companies such as Cloudflare, Booze Allen Hamilton, Google, Tenable to share this experience with.
Q: During a lot of our national trips to conferences and other events, the agenda is jam-packed – cybersecurity is non-stop. Was it like that on this mission?
ED: Each day started with a group breakfast at 7:30am, after which we were usually bussed to several sites for meetings and tours. Those would typically wrap up around 6pm. Then there were government-sponsored socials at both local venues and embassies. When we were not attending these. we were either networking with partner companies on the trade mission or meeting with prospective customers. Completely exhausting, but rewarding as well.
Q: Who did you get to meet with while you were there?
WADE: Industry leadership from local startup companies, as well as the largest telecom companies within each country. Also, we met with a variety of host nation government leaders and Ministry of Defense officials.
ED: One of the things I really enjoyed was meeting with the cyber-focused businesses in each country. Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan have some great businesses from across the spectrum. The groups we engaged with from their financial security agencies, telcom, and government agencies were also enlightening as we saw similar efforts in policy and compliance to the US.
On a personal side, I had a surprise meeting with one of the people who inspired me early in my career and helped shape my views on cyber warfare, Richard Hale. He used to be the DoD Chief Information Security Officer and is now the CISO of Sony.
Q: The language barrier must have been tough. Especially with technical terms like “Internet of Things” and “Cloud Industries.” Did you have an interpreter?
ED: The embassy provided interpreters for all events, although we did bring our own interpreter to South Korea, who we worked with before the trade mission to understand our solutions offerings. This was extremely valuable to provide pertinent conversions in the limited amount of time of each meeting.
Our marketing team is incredible and provided material translated in each language down to our business cards. This was very well received and help move technical conversations into partnerships. It was an incredible experience that I’m certain we will never forget.
Q: What was your favorite thing you learned?
WADE: The level of respect that is ingrained in the culture of this region. Even the simple act of passing a business card has protocol, importance, and meaning. Having a military background, I can appreciate the order involved and the genuineness of these gestures, which are often overlooked domestically.
ED: We are all fighting the same fight. The threats that our partners are facing are the same that the US faces, and the tools and techniques that are used to combat those threats are the same as well. Policy and governance questions surrounding jurisdiction and government authorities in protecting cyberspace and balancing them with civil privacy and corporate autonomy is something that we are all grappling with. A real-world example of this is when North Korea hacked into Sony Pictures. If North Korea would have sent military troops into Sony, it would have clearly been the Army’s job to combat that action. However, since it was “cyber soldiers” that were attacking a civilian corporation, whose jurisdiction is it to defend? The company themselves, the military, law enforcement, or someone else?
Q: What was the single most important thing to come out of this experience?
WADE: From a company perspective: Understanding of the cultural nuances working within these regions. This trip has laid the framework for SealingTech to be able to build direct commercial and foreign military relationships.
From a personal perspective: All people value a free and prosperous society where their families and fellow citizens flourish. They expect their government and industry to provide the security that allows this level of humanity to prosper despite existing persistent threats.
Q: How will that inform what we’re doing in 2024 and beyond?
WADE: As a SealingTech employee, I am not just selling a capability but providing a means to protect a way of life that in many ways supports what our American forefathers laid out for us as “certain unalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Whether that is protecting the security of a corporation, critical infrastructure, or government agency, these are all linked to the well-being of a particular society that is under constant attack by various actors.
Q: What’s next internationally for SealingTech?
ED: Our next engagements are within Europe and NATO.
We are engaging with NATO procurement channels to compete for opportunities. I believe we have a strong case in US – NATO Defensive Cyber and AI at the tactical edge interoperability for continued security in the region, especially considering current events. We attended an AFCEA-sponsored visit to Allied Command Transformation back in September and will be soon be attending TechNet TransAltantic in Frankfurt, Germany.
We also just took part in the International Trade Administrations Aerospace and Defense Trade Mission to Romania and Poland. In May 2024, we will attend NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn, Estonia.
And we expect more to happen even after that. It’s an exciting time to be part of SealingTech.
A STOP-BY-STOP CYBER MISSION ASIA OVERVIEW
First Stop: Taipei, Taiwan
In Taipei, Taiwan, we visited the American Institute in Taiwan, as well as local industry location. The last day was filled with a series of business meetings through pre-screened matchmaking and networking opportunities. We met with local companies interested in the high-quality cyber products, services, and technologies.
Seoul, South Korea: Second Stop
Our stop in Seoul was packed with meetings with government agencies, critical infrastructure providers, and commercial enterprises to explore opportunities and potential partnerships. We also heard from speakers from US-ROK Cybersecurity Cooperation Forum, featuring speakers from the Ministry of Science & ICT (MITI), Korea Institute for Defense Analysis, Korea University, Korea Internet and Security Agency, and USFK Joint Cyberspace Center, all of which provided us with an overview of the cyber landscape in South Korea.
Third Stop: Tokyo, Japan
On the final stop of Cyber Mission Asia, we began with a briefing at the US Embassy in Tokyo, which provided invaluable insights into the mission’s objectives and US-Japan collaborative efforts. We also had a briefing and interaction with Government of Japan Officials, which was enlightening and provided us with context for potential partnerships in Japan.
Then we spent the rest of day meeting in productive B2B meetings with Japanese government agencies, commercial enterprises, and technology providers.
For more information about SealingTech’s international travels, please follow us on #SealingTechWorldTour.
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