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Wednesday, 18 April 2018 09:08

34 firms vow not to aid cyber attacks by nation states

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Thirty-four companies, led by Microsoft, have joined a Cyber Security Tech Accord which commits them to, among other things, refusing to join cyber attacks by nation-states against innocent citizens and businesses no matter where they are located.

Conspicuous by their absence from the list were Google, Apple, Amazon and Red Hat. Britain's biggest tech firm, Micro Focus, was also missing.

The move was announced by Microsoft President Brad Smith on Monday, the first day of the annual RSA security conference in San Francisco.

The other principles of the accord are protection of all users and customers everywhere; empowering users, customers and developers to strengthen cyber security protection, and collaborating with each other and like-minded groups to improve cyber security.

Back in 2013, it was revealed that Microsoft had collaborated with the NSA to allow users' communications to be intercepted. This help included allowing the NSA to circumvent the company's own encryption.

Regarding the move not to aid and abet in nation-state cyber attacks, Smith told the conference: "...we will protect against tampering with and exploitation of technology products and services during their development, design, distribution and use. We will not help governments launch cyber attacks against innocent citizens and enterprises."

Last year, following the WannaCry ransomware attack that used a leaked NSA exploit known as Eternal Blue, Smith had slammed both the CIA and the NSA for creating such exploits and stockpiling them.

He claimed that this had led to an unintended link between nation states and organised criminal action.

Smith said at the time: "This is one reason we called in February for a new 'Digital Geneva Convention' to govern these issues, including a new requirement for governments to report vulnerabilities to vendors, rather than stockpile, sell, or exploit them."

On Monday, he said: "Last year at the RSA Conference in San Francisco, in the wake of escalating cyber attacks by criminal organisations and nation states — and just a few months before WannaCry and NotPetya crippled enterprises around the world — Microsoft called for bold new measures to defend and protect technology users around the world.

"Many others in the industry had similar ideas and wanted to come together to protect and defend our collective customers.

"And today (Monday), as this year’s RSA Conference begins in San Francisco, 34 global technology and security companies have done just that, signing a Cyber Security Tech Accord to advance online security and resiliency around the world."

The 34 companies are ABB, ARM, Avast!, Bitdefender, BT, CA Technologies, Cisco, Cloudflare, DataStax, Dell, DocuSign, Facebook, Fastly, FireEye, F-Secure. GitHub, Guardtime, HPE, HP Inc., Intuit, Juniper Networks, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Nielsen, Nokia, Oracle, RSA, SAP, Stripe, Symantec, Telefonica, Tenable, Trend Micro and WMware.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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