×

Microsoft calls for 'new Digital Geneva Convention' after spate of high-profile cyberattacks

  • Microsoft President Brad Smith said: "This is supposed to be a time of peace… so the world has literally, in that regard, been turned upside down from protecting civilians in times of war to attacking civilians in times of peace."
  • In recent years, cyberattacks have increasingly been adopted by governments to achieve foreign policy or national security objectives.
Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith speaks during the annual Microsoft shareholders meeting in Bellevue, Washington on November 29, 2017.
JASON REDMOND | AFP | Getty Images
Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith speaks during the annual Microsoft shareholders meeting in Bellevue, Washington on November 29, 2017.

Microsoft is pushing for a new set of global norms to try and police government activity in cyberspace, following a spate of high-profile cyberattacks.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, the tech giant's president Brad Smith said Friday: "This is supposed to be a time of peace… so the world has literally, in that regard, been turned upside down from protecting civilians in times of war to attacking civilians in times of peace."

Following a series of global cyberattacks in 2017, Smith said leading tech firms should work alongside political leaders to reassess the current regulations. He added that while the more an international body could apply these same regulations "the better," additional laws would also be necessary.

"We can identify the gaps and then we need to fill those gaps in with, as we've said, a new Digital Geneva Convention," he said.

Uptick in cyberattacks

In recent years, cyberattacks have increasingly been adopted by governments to achieve foreign policy or national security objectives. However, despite an uptick in attacks on governments, infrastructure and political institutions, relatively few international agreements currently exist to tackle cyberattacks.

Smith first called for a Digital Geneva Convention in February 2017, shortly after the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign that was tainted by the hacking and disclosure of Democratic Party emails.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded Russia carried out the attacks in an attempt to help President Donald Trump to win. In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin said accusations Moscow interfered with the election were "lies" used for "domestic American politics."