CyberPeace Institute fills a critical need for cyberattack victims

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Today, with the launch of the CyberPeace Institute, the world will gain an important new ally in understanding the impact of cyberattacks, in working to develop rules for proper conduct in cyberspace and in helping the most vulnerable victims of cyberattacks become more resilient.

Today’s news is important because cybersecurity is one of the more critical issues of our time. The escalating attacks we’ve seen in recent years are not just about computers attacking computers – these attacks threaten and often harm the lives and livelihoods of real people, including their ability to access basic services like heath care, banking and electricity. In May 2017 it took the WannaCry attack just hours to impact more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries including systems that supported the National Health Service in Great Britain. Six weeks later, NotPetya disabled an estimated 10 percent of all computers in Ukraine, crippling businesses, transit systems and banks there before halting the systems of multinational corporations around the world and suspending operations of one of the world’s leading shipping companies. At Microsoft we track cyberattacks by dozens of nation-state actors, and activity continues to increase.

It will take a multi-stakeholder effort to address these issues. The internet is the creation of the private sector, which is primarily responsible for its operation, evolution and security. But governments have an important role to play in observing and enforcing norms for conduct in cyberspace and in deterring damaging attacks by other nations. Governments, the private sector, civil society and academia must be part of discussing solutions and taking concrete steps to protect people. Badly needed in the fight against cyberattacks is a credible source of research and analysis about the impact of cyberattacks around the globe on world citizens. Another important gap is the need for immediate help and advocacy for the most vulnerable victims of these attacks. For years, nongovernmental organizations around the world have provided on-the-ground help and vocal advocacy for victims of wars and natural disasters, and have convened important discussions about protecting the victims they serve. It’s become clear that victims of attacks originating on the internet deserve similar assistance, and the CyberPeace Institute will do just that.

For these reasons, Microsoft has joined the Hewlett Foundation, Mastercard and other leading organizations as initial funders of the institute. The institute will be independent, and we anticipate it will have significant impact in the three core areas where it will function:

  • Assistance: Coordinating recovery efforts for the most vulnerable victims of cyberattacks and helping vulnerable communities and organizations become more resilient to attacks.
  • Accountability: Facilitating the collective analysis, research and investigation of cyberattacks, including by assessing their harm, and bringing greater transparency to the problem so everyone has better information to inform action.
  • Advancement: Promoting responsible behavior in cyberspace and advancing international laws and rules.

While the institute will fill an important unmet need, it joins a range of other critical work underway to help secure the internet. The Cybersecurity Tech Accord, a global voice for the tech community, now includes more than 100 companies committed to principles like protecting all customers around the world and opposing cyberattacks on civilians. The Paris Peace Call for Trust & Security in Cyberspace has signatories from 67 countries, 139 international and civil society organizations, and 358 private companies and entities committed to preventing cyber activity that threatens the availability of the internet, stopping internet-enabled interference in elections and guarding against supply chain attacks. And the United Nations has important processes underway to build consensus on new rules that have the potential of protecting billions.

We’re encouraged by all of these efforts and by the potential the CyberPeace Institute has to improve people’s lives, and we believe that as other companies, nonprofits and individuals see the institute’s progress in the coming months, they will join the effort to back its important work.

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