The last two years have shown the crippling effect large-scale cyberattacks could have. The WannaCry attack crippled the UK's NHS, Atlanta City Government services were taken offline, and banks had millions stolen.
Despite the fix of critical flaws that enabled these attacks, it's clear they won't stop any time soon. The finger is pointed increasingly at Russia, but while NATO considers an offensive approach, the world's biggest tech companies promise otherwise.
In an agreement named the Cybersecurity tech accord, Microsoft, Facebook, IBM, Cisco, and others espouse the need for a defensive approach. They agree to do this not just individually, but collectively, in collaboration with each other.
The tech giants call it a ‘watershed agreement', built with four key principles in mind. Firstly, enhance defense by pledging to protect all customers, regardless of motivation or country of origin.
Second, and crucially, they agree to a ‘no offense' policy. They agree not to help government launch cyberattacks against innocent citizens or enterprises and protect against exploitation of their services at every point.
A Limited Collaboration
They will also do more to provide tools to developers and businesses that use their tech. This includes initiatives to help protect them efficiently and joint work on security practices and features. The fourth promise is to work together to both uphold existing relationships and enhance them. They will work together on vulnerability disclosures and minimize the introduction of malicious code.
“The devastating attacks from the past year demonstrate that cybersecurity is not just about what any single company can do but also about what we can all do together,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith. “This tech sector accord will help us take a principled path towards more effective steps to work together and defend customers around the world.”
However, some tech giants are notably missing from the accord. These include Google, Apple, Amazon, Twitter, and Mozilla. Google has a history of disclosure without mercy via its Project Zero, so that presents a natural point of disagreement.
Twitter, meanwhile, doesn't have the same motivation as Facebook. The Cambridge Analytica scandal has put Zuckerberg's company in the security spotlight, and while it may have ulterior motives, it's still a positive step for its consumers.
You can read the full cybersecurity tech accord on the official site.