Microsoft president Brad Smith has called on governments worldwide to unite and form a digital equivalent of the Geneva Convention to help combat state-sponsored cyber attacks.
Smith said in a blog post that governments around the world need to do more to protect 'civilians' of the internet from state-sponsored attacks; and also encouraged governments to be more involved when countering attacks - particular those targeting privately owned datacentres and infrastructures.
He pinpointed the Sony attack, attributed to North Korea, as an example of where governments could be more involved in combating cyber threats.
"The time has come to call on the world's governments to come together; affirm international cybersecurity norms that have emerged in recent years; adopt new and binding rules; and get to work implementing them," he said. "In short, the time has come for governments to adopt a digital Geneva Convention to protect civilians on the internet.
"Such a convention should commit governments to avoiding cyber attacks that target the private sector or critical infrastructure or the use of hacking to steal intellectual property.
"Similarly, it should require that governments assist private sector efforts to detect, contain, respond to and recover from these events; and should mandate that governments report vulnerabilities to vendors rather than stockpile, sell or exploit them."
This digital Geneva Convention should also set up an independent organisation that would allow information to be shared publicly, he added.
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While outlining what governments should be doing, Smith also called on the technology sector itself to collaborate more effectively with others and act as a "digital Switzerland".
"Across the tech sector, companies are racing to provide stronger cybersecurity protection for customers, including from nation states," he said. "Each of our advances is making an important contribution, but we're nowhere close to being able to declare victory.
"Governments are increasing their investments in offensive cyber capabilities [and] we therefore need to recognise a critical truth: this is not a problem that we can solve solely with each of us acting alone.
"Even in a world of growing nationalism, when it comes to cybersecurity the global tech sector needs to operate as a neutral 'digital Switzerland."
Smith used his concept of a "digital Switzerland" to take a shot at Donald Trump and his immigration ban, after the tech sector recently pulled together to oppose his executive order banning travel from seven countries to the US.
Amazon and Microsoft joined forces in a lawsuit and were quickly followed by 97 firms filing an Amicus briefing opposing the ban.
"For example, at Microsoft in Washington state, a strong majority of our employees were born in the US, but we also have employees who have come from 157 countries. I've long arrived at the office each morning feeling that I work at the United Nations of Information Technology.
"Our company is not unique. As an industry, we've brought people together in ways that can promote mutual understanding and respect. We need to harness this global understanding to protect people everywhere, earning their confidence as the world's digital Switzerland."
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