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ZTE Launches a Videoconferencing Endpoint with a Firewall

December 20, 2012 | Howard Lichtman
ZTEUSA_CyberPoint.jpgFrom Left: Anthony D'Alberto, CyberPoint, Bryan Paul, Senior Software Engineer at CyberPoint, Gerald Caponera, Global Partnerships at CyberPoint, Steel Liu, Vice President of Sales at ZTE USA, the ZTE Prescient T700S-FW videoconferencing endpoint with firewall, Eric Henderson, Director of Channel at ZTE USA, Howard Lichtman, Publisher at Telepresence Options, and Andy Liu, ZTE USA.

Multi-billion dollar Chinese multinational ZTE is better known for mobile handsets and wireless telecom equipment than videoconferencing, but the $13.7 Billion USD company makes a short line of solid, standards-based videoconferencing appliances and video network infrastruture. This week they were celebrating the launch of their newest videoconferencing endpoint with a built-in hardware-based firewall, their partnership with Baltimore-based cyber-security firm CyberPoint, and the fascinating and timely way they got American "Pro-Modified" Chinese videoconferencing gear on the US government's GSA schedule.

First, the problem: It's hard to get telecom equipment made by companies with Foreign Ownership, Control and Interest (FOCI) issues on the GSA schedule. ZTE USA had a standards-based videoconferencing end-point, the T700. The system was solid: capable of 1080p 30fps or 720p 60fps with a five-port built in MCU, dual video streaming, and a price point that is a fraction of competititive solutions. The company also had a problem with perceived trust as they, and fellow Chinese multi-national Huawei, were featured in a recent report by the House Intelligence Committee complaining about the companies' closeness to the Chinese government. Huawei was the main target but, publicly-held ZTE got dragged through the mud as well.

Enter Baltimore-based cyber-security firm CyberPoint. In addition to the usual suite of security services: digital forensics, penetration testing, malicious code analysis, etc., the company has developed a practice, called Prescient, around helping companies like ZTE test and certify their products as secure and get them into the US market. In an initiative spearheaded by ZTE USA executive Steel Liu and CyberPoint executive Gerald Caponera, the company helped develop a derivitive version of the ZTE videoconferencing system that they secured with the addition of a hardware-based firewall. The CyberPoint team conducted white box, gray box, and black box testing on the endpoint and then designed a hardware-based firewall that secures the TCP and UDP ports allowing for port filtering and blocking. This hardens the end-point against DoS attacks, syn flood attacks, and a variety of other hacks and exploits.

Equally as important, the exercise produces a final product that has been designed, value-added, certified, and assembled by an American company in America. The process took almost two years from conception to completion and it couldn't come at a better time for ZTE. While Huawei is still wiping the blood off their face, ZTE is celebrating their partnership with CyberPoint, their innovative new end-point, and the fact that you can buy the Prescient T700S-FW on the GSA schedule today for $4273.40 a unit.

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