We urgently need to make international agreements on the deployment of cyber-weapons by countries, so Microsoft’s legal director Brad Smith has announced Thursday for the United Nations. According to Smith, there is a cyber-war between countries that deploy a new generation of weapons both against civilians and governments, which is a risk to the data and digitally supported infrastructure.
As an example, Smith pointed to the outbreak of the WannaCry-ransomware, which not only had an impact on systems but also for people. The ransomware could spread because organizations had not installed Windows updates that were already available for two months. WannaCry managed to infect hospitals and care institutions in Great Britain and made sure that 19,000 hospital appointments had to be canceled. Ambulances also had to depart from infected hospital systems to other hospitals.
WannaCry is a wake-up call for the world. If we do nothing to address the risk of cyber attacks by countries, the world will become a more dangerous place, said Smith. He noted that companies such as Microsoft have the first responsibility to address such problems.
But it’s an error to think that only the private sector can stop the risk of cyber attacks, just as minus the other types of military attacks it can hold. The investments of countries in cyber weapons have passed the point where possible.
Microsoft’s legal director reiterated the call for a Geneva Convention for the Internet of February this year, but also suggested that this is a long-term solution. We must now take measures to protect civilians from cyber attacks, Smith said.
Existing legislation and standards must be built on this. Legislation to be adapted for the 21st century. “Governments must work together to adhere to current international standards and develop new legislation to fill the gaps.” The world needs a digital Geneva Convention, as well as additional steps to help us make a safer world, according to Smith.