By Andy Slawetsky – HP held a security roundtable on the New York Stock Exchange on October 4 where Alex Cho, President of HP Personal Systems and his team screened the latest Wolf video before moving us next door for lunch and a chat. This was an exclusive and the people in that room were the first ones outside of HP to see the full version that will be coming out soon. I felt very lucky to be on that guest list!
HP was clearly looking to make a statement by choosing this location. When I entered the building (following two check points including an airport-like scan), I was escorted up to the floor and then taken to our meeting room, which was nicely outfitted for a movie screening. A nice big display in front, popcorn, candy and big pretzels. Showtime!
I knew I was there to see the latest Wolf video as HP put the trailer out in Sept. If you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what I’m talking about, The Wolf videos are a series of very entertaining shorts featuring Christian Slater (The Wolf) and Jonathan Banks (The Fixer…think Mike from Breaking Bad). Slater hacks companies at very high levels, sometimes for fun, sometimes for money and sometimes just because he can. He brings them to their knees or even wipes them out by accessing their data.
Banks is the high tech IT guy trying to protect his clients from The Wolf. I’m told that last year, one of the releases was shown Cannes Film Festival. This latest version is a a full 20 minutes and it was very watchable. If this was a series, I might tune in each week.
The Wolf videos are a heavy handed way to show the risks that customers are exposing themselves to if they don’t have enough security, or the right kind of security. The word “fear-mongering” was used during the roundtable that followed by one of the journalists.
After the movie, we moved into the next room for lunch and the crowd, a nice mix of security journalists and industry experts, each took turns chatting about issues surrounding security, and how can companies like HP can help the message resonate better with customers.
It is a challenge to say the least. I would bet that most of you reading this have been the victim at one level or another of some security issue. Maybe your credit card was stolen or you had false charges on it that had to be removed. Maybe you had your identity stolen. At the very least, your computer probably had a virus or malware at one time or another. Everyone by now has received an ever-more-realistic phishing email. If you’ve never been hit yet, your time will surely come.
HP has moved to capitalize on this in all aspects of their business. In the printer world, they are the self proclaimed leader and sell the most secure printers available. I know of several competitors of theirs that strongly disagree. But, the fact is, they’re publicly claiming it and it’s resonating with customers. People at HP have told me they’ve had a handful of “very big” wins based on the security messaging and their dealer business has grown considerably in the last year or so. I’ve seen the warehouses, there’s way more HP gear in them than there was in the past. Dealers I’ve spoken to have said the same thing; the security message gets people’s attention.
Call it fear mongering, call it customer education, The Wolf videos are brilliant, albeit self serving. Customers need to protect themselves.
HP is doing other things outside of The Wolf videos to help back their claim as the most secure printer company. I ran a story in August that HP was actually paying hackers if they could penetrate the HP devices in a Bounty program that gained worldwide attention. Talk about throwing down the gauntlet. It was also another fantastic marketing move that further establishes them as a leader. Who else has done this?
The roundtable conversations were very interesting as we discussed topics ranging from The Wolf Videos to the need for industry standardization as a way to help customers better understand and compare it. It’s nearly impossible for a customer to look at printer specifications between two devices and determine which will be more secure for them. Standardization would help with this issue.
Security is a critical topic and should be on the top of everyone’s list of priorities, especially your customers. The risks are everywhere as we were reminded by the industry expert sitting next to me, Ang Cui, who told us all that the dated phone system sitting on the table in the room (at the NYSE) was hackable and has an active listening device that can be accessed from anywhere by anyone. His company tests that and he knew the model and the issues with it just by seeing it across the room. I imagine multi billion dollar deals are being discussed in this board room and sitting right there is an unsecurable listening device. Unreal! He then went on to remind us that 6 floors below us, Super Micro Computer Inc was melting into the ground as the news of their hacked chips took its toll on Wall Street. They lost billions that day and were down 40% by 1 PM.
You and your customers need to plan for security breeches. Stopping every threat forever is not likely as hackers become more sophisticated and AI technology will only make things worse. You can secure your customer to the best of your abilities, but at a certain level, it’s on them to keep the bad guys out and that’s probably not going to happen. This is an excellent opportunity for technology resellers and HP has been showing you the path with this security marketing engine for the past year and a half or so. Help your customers plan for disaster. What if they get hacked? What is their action plan? The Wolf shows you all to well in one video what can happen when the top IT person at a company suddenly goes missing at the wrong time. Where’s TODD (maybe my favorite Wolf episode)???
I’d like to thank HP for including me in the event. I appreciate the invitation to participate on this roundtable and I was happy to spend the afternoon with such an interesting and bright group of journalist and experts.