On Tuesday, at the RSA security industry conference in San Francisco, Chief Legal Officer and Microsoft President Brad Smith called the attention of world governments to put aside their differences and pledge that they will not hack civilians. Instead, outline all the strategies to protect civilians and companies from the unknown cyber attacks. Smith also claimed that the rising trend of government entities utilizing the internet as a weapon was worrying.
Microsoft Calls For A Digital Geneva Convention
As reported by Top Tech News, Smith called for all the government representatives to come together and plan on how they will fight cyber attacks. He asks all to set new rules for behavior in cyberspace in order to protect civilians on the internet, similar to the protections for civilians in the events of war outlined by the Geneva Conventions. "We suddenly find ourselves living in a world where nothing seems off-limits to nation-state attacks," he said.
Concerns on cyber attacks are a growing especially in the line of technology companies as well as their customers. Smith said that warfare in cyberspace often targets the noncombatants, aiming at data centers, laptops as well as software owned by civilians and companies. The Microsft President also cited the high-profile hack of Sony Corporation to be perpetrated by the North Korea and attacks last year aimed at "the democratic process itself," as a reference to mangling in the U.S. presidential election.
Smith also mentioned that the new international regulatory regime should include a separate organization that can focus on investigating and sharing evidence that attributes nation-state attacks to specific countries. It should also play a role similar to that of the International Atomic Energy Agency in nuclear nonproliferation. Microsoft itself has been hesitant at times to identify the source of state-sponsored initiatives on its own services.
The Role Of The Technology Companies
According to Fortune, technology companies must retain the loyalty and trust of their customers. They must not assist the governments with their hacking schemes even if the world leaders may request them to do so. “In an age of rising nationalism, we as the global technology sector need to become a trusted and neutral digital Switzerland,” Smith said.
It's not just the privacy but also the digital rights of all the citizens worldwide that Smith and other technology managers are concerned about since more governments and states are engaging in more widespread cyber attacks. Every time government manipulates the tool or service of a tech company to spy or hack citizens, it is considered a hit on a firm's credibility with its customers.
“We adopted what was working for them,” said Smith in reference to Microsoft implementing Google and Facebook’s policies. As an instance of how technology firms can work together, Smith mentioned how Microsoft was impressed with other tech companies such as Google and Facebook. Smith said that the users of the two tech giants are being notified whenever their accounts may have been yielded in state-sponsored attacks.
At the RSA Conference 2016, Smith shows his support to Apple in the consumer tech giant's opposed in complying with government orders. The president of Microsoft clearly sees more cases like the Apple and DOJ emerging over the years, which could include governments compelling technology companies to better improve and carry out their initiatives. If more governments will be engaged in cyber attacks, it's more likely they are going to call on tech companies for support.