Occupy Central

Vote sends out flare for web security company

US-based firm makes a name for itself in city by helping Occupy fend off cyberattacks

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 June, 2014, 4:49am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 June, 2014, 5:19am

Until about a week ago, the name CloudFlare was alien to most Hongkongers. Now, the US-based cybersecurity firm is being applauded throughout the city for helping voters have a chance to say how the chief executive should be elected in 2017.

The company has helped the Occupy Central movement for democracy fend off massive cyberattacks in a preregistration exercise launched on June 13 and in an unofficial poll that started on Friday.

That was despite the withdrawal of two other service providers - Amazon Web Services and UDomain - from the project.

The instant fame has heightened San Francisco-based CloudFlare's interest in Hong Kong, which is already on a shortlist - alongside Sydney and Singapore - as possible hosts for a new office in Asia, where the company would hire local staff and offer classes on web security.

"At the beginning of last week, nobody knew what CloudFlare was," the firm's chief executive Matthew Prince, who plans to visit next week, told the Post yesterday.

"Now lots of people in Hong Kong know what we are. [This] makes it tempting for us to come to the region and attract professional engineers."

Prince added he had received a number of invitations to the city and résumés from local engineers.

CloudFlare, set up in 2009, has an office in London, plus 26 data centres around the world, including one in Hong Kong.

Last week, just as the 10-day plebiscite kicked off, Prince uploaded on Twitter a picture of fortune cookie messages with the words, "Tonight you will help protect democracy."

His tweets were widely circulated in the city's social media.