A “Digital Geneva Convention”: Tech Companies Sign Cybersecurity Accord

Microsoft and 33 other companies have signed on to a four-point agreement that pledges they will protect their customers and will oppose state-sponsored attacks on users.

A coalition of tech companies wants to make it clear that, in world spooked by both criminal and government-linked cyberattacks, the tech sector intends to be a key guardian of information security.

This week, Microsoft, Facebook, Dell, LinkedIn, GitHub, and more than two dozen other technology firms announced that they have signed the Cybersecurity Tech Accord, an agreement to defend their customers from cybercriminal and state-sponsored attacks.

“Protecting our online environment is in everyone’s interest. Therefore we—as enterprises that create and operate online technologies—promise to defend and advance its benefits for society,” the accord states.

The 34 companies that signed the four-point accord pledged that they will improve their cybersecurity defenses and that they “will not help governments launch cyberattacks against innocent citizens and enterprises from anywhere.” The firms also said they will empower their customers to improve their own security and will collaborate with other organizations to bolster cybersecurity generally.

“The devastating attacks from the past year demonstrate that cybersecurity is not just about what any single company can do but also about what we can all do together,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a news release. “This tech sector accord will help us take a principled path towards more effective steps to work together and defend customers around the world.”

The initiative arose from Smith’s long-term desire to create a “digital Geneva Convention” for cybersecurity, The New York Times reported. Some major names were missing from the accord, however: Google, Amazon, and Apple have not signed on. (Notably, the signatories included Facebook, which is recovering from some nasty knocks to its reputation in recent weeks.)

Additionally, no companies based in countries that have been blamed for cyberattacks—including Russia, North Korea, Iran, and China—are on the list of signatories.

Microsoft played a key role last year in fending off the WannaCry ransomware attack, which targeted computers running its Windows operating system and had a serious impact on the British National Health Service.

At the RSA Conference, which focuses on information security, this week, Smith emphasized the importance of an aggressive approach to security, calling cyberspace “the new battlefield.”

“For all of us who work with the technology that is this infrastructure of the future, there is a huge responsibility, a responsibility that is far greater than anything that was envisioned when computers were first invented or when the internet became popular,” Smith said, according to GeekWire.

(imaginima/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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