Editor’s Note: Andrew M. Gayle is the chief operating officer of GTA. With more than 30 years of diversified experience in telecommunications and Information Technology, he oversees product development, client services, and regulatory affairs for GTA.
He joined GTA in 2005 after it became privatized and held a succession of senior management roles in both sales and operations within the company. Under his leadership, GTA expanded the business from being a basic telephone service provider to the first telecommunications company on Guam to offer full telecommunication services of phone, cellular, internet, and digital TV service. Gayle led several initiatives to include building and operating the cellular network and spearheading GTA’s smartphone strategy, including being the first on island to launch Blackberry in 2007 and iPhone in 2009, becoming the second US carrier to launch the iconic device after AT&T. He also launched GTA’s digital TV in 2008.
Gayle holds a 1989 degree in computer, electrical and systems engineering from Harvard University. His civic duties include chairmanship of the Guam Solid Waste Authority, member of the Rotary Club of Guam, and he is a long-time Math counts volunteer moderator. Gayle is also handicap chairman of the Nunu Golf Club.
Q: Is cybercrime really a major problem, or do we just hear about well-publicized instances of hacking?
A: Whether you’re a small or large business, cybersecurity is crucial for everyone especially now more than ever. The adoption of digital technologies has accelerated due to the pandemic. We see more advanced and sophisticated cyberattacks such as phishing, zero-day malware across domains, and other attempts to breach information systems.
Our solution is a strategic investment that provides secure, vigilant, and resilient cybersecurity to actively protect business continuity and usher digital transformation.
Based on industry surveys by Gartner:
- Three major categories for root causes of data breach. Fifty-two percent of incidents involved a malicious attack, compared to 25% caused by system glitches and 23% caused by human error.
- 53% majority of malicious breaches were caused by financially motivated attackers. Nation state threat actors were involved in 13% of malicious breaches, hacktivists in 13%, and 21% of this type of data breach was caused by attackers of unknown motivation.
Q: Why has cybersecurity become an issue for businesses?
A: Cyberthreats enable fraud that could lead to monetary losses, costing some businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars. It could also result in data breaches that compromise critical and sensitive information.
In today’s connected world, cybersecurity involves everyone. The alarming thing about threats is that they not only can affect anyone, but they can also open gateways for intruders to steal money and data in the blink of an eye. Nonetheless, with the proper security practices and preventive solutions, anyone can inhibit an attack before it results in disruption. Threats come and go, but they always manage to come back. A cybersecurity attack is no longer a matter of “if” but rather “when” it happens. When it does, the consequences are oftentimes devastating. For this reason, preventive measures are not merely optional for businesses but are a necessity.
Q: Has cybercrime increased during the pandemic, with so many people working remotely, or partly remotely?
A: Since the advent of COVID-19, the FBI has reported a 300% increase in reported cybercrimes. Hackers have taken advantage of the rush to enable teleworking to exploit vulnerable networks as companies adjusted to allow working from home.
Q: What should a savvy business do to educate its employees so they do not stumble into a situation that can endanger the business — even in their private social media activities?
A: Threats are known to spread through networks. It is important for companies to keep employees well-informed of cybersecurity risks. It can be as simple as broadcasting emails to remind them about resetting their passwords, requiring 2-factor authentication on remote devices, giving them news alerts on global hacks, or providing them assistance in securing threatened devices. The culprits of most breaches are often the victims. Therefore, security should be incorporated into a company’s culture not only to protect business operations but also to boost workforce productivity.
One thing that a business can do is to constantly remind employees of the cyber threat and to run “drills” to re-enforce best practices. One common way to penetrate even the most secure networks is to use “social engineering” to trick an employee into clicking on a malicious web link or open a virus-infected file that was sent in an email from a “trusted” source. Tests can be conducted that send out a “counterfeit” email to your staff and then you can track who “clicked” on the fake link and provide additional training where needed.
Q: GTA has a new product for cybercrime — a Multi-Threat Security Bundle. What will this do for companies that standard protective software does not?
A: By providing our Multi-Threat Security Bundle enterprise solution, we help businesses build resiliency to protect customer data and comply with various compliance and regulatory requirements. It also helps decrease the exposure of companies to attacks that may compromise sensitive data and information. MTSB provides a seamless user experience, along with integrated protection essential to the digital transformation of businesses. Through Fortinet, a worldwide network security and threat management company, GTA provides Next-Generation Firewall hardware called FortiGate to prevent unauthorized Internet users from accessing private networks. FortiGate blocks unauthorized applications and keeps networks secure as new threats arise. It includes Firewall VPN, application control, intrusion prevention, antivirus, URL filtering, Sandboxing, and SSL Inspection.
Q: GTA is investing in a number of ways in the islands – fiber optic cable, a rebranding, stores and its headquarters. Please comment.
A: GTA has consistently reinvested in our business every year. Recent and upcoming investments include the following:
- Network: Fiber to more neighborhoods to enable faster speeds and more internet capacity; additional cell sites to expand coverage and grow wireless data capacity; a new cable landing station to enable more connectivity for Guam and the region
- Workplace: We are nearing the end of a two-year project to refresh all workspaces for our employees. This includes new cubicles, meeting spaces, seating, and renovated facilities.
- Retail: We moved to a larger space in the Micronesia Mall and converted that location to an “Experience Center” in line with our new Tamuning location.
Q: The islands are relatively remote — and our businesses are comparatively small. Wouldn’t a big stateside company be more of a target?
A: The old adage of “Security by Obscurity” really doesn’t apply in the connected world of the internet. Any business that has any online presence or connection has the potential to become a victim of a cybercrime. Hackers use automated tools to search for networks with vulnerabilities, regardless of their physical location, and will then attempt to gain unauthorized access to and make use of anything that has value to the organization.
Q: What drew you to the telecommunication industry in the first place?
A: I started out as an IT professional and did work across many industries here in Guam such as retail, hospitality, banking, government, and telecommunications. I made the move to telecommunications because it is such a fast-paced industry that was growing like crazy. Technology updates happen so quickly, and it is just so exciting to be involved in an industry that went from first generation (1G) technology when I started to 5G technology today.
Q: The telecom field has become diverse, with different opportunities for varied skillsets. What would you recommend to a student considering the industry as a career field?
A: Youth empowerment is at the forefront of our community goals, so we continuously look at ways to invest in our future. By supporting STEM programs and initiatives, and further expanding our GTA Youth Leader Program, we aim to inspire the next generation of our local workforce to prepare them for the challenges and opportunities in future careers. mbj