- CARTES 2009 Interview with Mr. Gao Xiang, Vice President of Product & Marketing, Watchdata
Q: Information security and data protection is a hot topic these days. What do you think of the current demand for information security and data protection?
A: The age of “ubiquitous computing” is coming. In the near future, people can get information and handle it in any way, whenever and wherever they are. They will not necessarily need to find a computer to surf the internet or edit files. Personal computing devices will be pervasive. Any digital device like TV, mobile phone will become smart information processor.
To provide more convenient to people, high-speed network will also be pervasive and network address number (e.g. IPv6) will be unlimited. Then each person can own several IPs, which could be distributed to different devices and can be accessed easily.
In this case, we will see a user-centric convergence of computer, communication, consumer electronics and content in the aspects of technology, standard, functionality and application.
From service provider’s point of view, it is moving from an infrastructure-based business model to a service-based business model.
From user’s point of view, it is moving from a device-centric computing environment to a user-centric computing environment. The specific applications will be more and more user-oriented.
Technology will evolve to accommodate people’s digital lifestyle.
The service providers and operators including telecom, finance and transport will need billing mechanisms, access control and authorization capabilities to control access to the value-added services to generate revenue.
Users need a mobile device and environment which can support the above capabilities, and which they can trust to enjoy all the services.
Authentication and data protection become crucial for the whole development. It would be even better if we could see a combination of security and multi-function capabilities. Killer applications such as mobile payment can be realized, combining telecom, transport and finance.
Q: Can you tell us in details what Watchdata has brought to people in this digital society?
A: We have seen deterioration in this digital society. In transport, memory-based smart cards are no longer safe from hackers. In China, this means that 140 million cardholders face threats from hackers if transport operators do not migrate to better smart card system, such as the microprocessor smart card technology. Worst of all, more and more hackers will be attracted to this field as more and more cities migrate to smart card technology. On the internet, “Trojan Horse” is running everywhere and RootKit is just “child’s play” now while BootKit is in. The whole ecosystem and business model of hacking are mature and profitable. With this regard, the need to make the new digital lifestyle more convenient and more secure is imperative.
Convenience and security, this is also Watchdata’s core mission, as we can find in the full statement “Continuous innovation to make our lifestyles in the digital world more convenient and more secure.” This also resonates in our vision of “Trustworthy computing environment for every information processor.”
To realize “security and convenience”, Watchdata has come up with our coping strategies. We focus on a device that is personal, trusted and with known and predictable behavior, immune to viruses and other malicious code that carries personalized and security-related data. What Watchdata provides, makes the data inside the device impossible to hack. Through this device, mostly a smart card or a token, the ID of the owner is authenticated and protected. There is “mutual-authentication” between the owner and the device. For example, through Watchdata’s OCL USB token for online transaction, first the owner will be identified and authenticated. After the transaction, the owner still needs to press the button on the token to confirm the transaction is valid. With the possibility of such physical confirmation, the hackers cannot maliciously transfer money by hacking the computer anymore.
The device Watchdata promotes be it a SIM card, USB token, ID smart card, or a NFC phone able to give people access to mobile electronic-payment service, secure online transaction processing, electronic ticketing, multimedia processing (video, messaging, gaming, etc) and helps them create a personalized trusted computing environment from an unsecure one. All the multi-function is supposed to bring people more convenience based on security.
Watchdata elevates smart cards’ role to a security guardian of people’s data and a convenient platform for people to go on well with their daily digital lifestyle that includes doing online secure transactions with a token, using a smart card when taking a bus, train and subway, or tapping a phone when paying for goods and services.
Q: Innovation is the core for the development of many industry sectors, what efforts has Watchdata done for innovation?
A: First, I want to emphasize that Watchdata has won acceptance not just for competitive pricing or customer relationship. Our development is based on our customized and differentiated products, supported by our innovation in technology, management and marketing.
Taking “portable, personal trusted computing device and environment” as the technical direction, Watchdata focuses on key fields like telecom, finance and transport to provide converged applications and work on customer-oriented pilot projects.
Product differentiation or product innovation is Watchdata’s core strategy, surrounding which Watchdata arranges its departments and evaluate employees for career advancement and promotion. To encourage innovation, Watchdata organizes competition that rewards winners of up to 1 million RMB (approximately $146,000).
Human resource is the key to many innovations. To bring in talents, Watchdata has developed academic ties with several universities and co-build education bases. It also provides access for university students to experience Watchdata’s innovation.
As part of being innovative company, Watchdata is to some extent represented by its patents. Watchdata sees over 50 patents submitted every year. Some of the patents from Watchdata are listed as international, national or industry standards.