Cybersecurity Experts: World Needs ‘Coalition of the Willing’ to Meet Cyberthreats

Published
24 Jan 2019
2019
Share

Fon Mathuros, Head of Media, World Economic Forum: Tel.: +41 (0)79 201 0211; Email: fmathuro@weforum.org

· Experts hope democracies that have not signed the Paris Call of 12 November 2018 for Trust and Security in Cyberspace, including India and the US, will join the multistakeholder initiative

· Attribution in the case of state-sponsored attacks is vital but insufficient; consequences must follow.

· The Annual Meeting is being held under the theme, Globalization 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

· For more information about the Annual Meeting, visit www.weforum.org

Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 24 January 2019 – Cybersecurity experts at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting have called for a “coalition of the willing” to embrace the Paris Call of 12 November 2018 for Trust and Security in Cyberspace (the Paris Call), a multistakeholder declaration that favours the development of common principles for securing cyberspace. The Paris Call, which has been signed by 64 states, more than 300 private-sector companies and over 150 NGOs and other civil society organizations, offers a framework for multilateral action on addressing the critical issue of cybersecurity in a time of increasingly prolific and sophisticated attacks by criminal organizations as well as nation states.

“It’s really about keeping the world safe,” said Bradford L. Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft. “The world depends on digital infrastructure, it depends on our devices, and they’re under attack every single day,” he said.

While noting that the Paris Call has been signed by all 28 members of the European Union and by all but one member of NATO, as well as other democratic states, including Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea, Smith singled out two holdouts: India and the United States. “The world’s biggest democracy needs to stand with the world’s other great democratic nations,” he said. “The world needs India.”

Smith attributed US reluctance to sign to the current American administration’s aversion to multilateralism, but warned, “Some of the most serious attacks are those against democracy itself. The most significant threat is to voting systems.”

Although he acknowledged the difficulty of assessing the actual impact of interference operations on the outcome of the 2016 US election, Smith said, “Let’s focus on what we do know. We do know that 30 million Americans have read intentional disinformation by governments, and they shared it, they liked it, and they believed it. It was done with the goal of disrupting democracy. It was not limited to the United States alone … Every single candidate running for the French presidency was attacked in some way. It is a problem, a threat to democracy, and needs to be addressed.”

Smith and other cybersecurity experts emphasized the importance of attribution but said that attribution itself is not enough. “I don’t think one can expect governments to change what they’re doing if there aren’t consequences,” he said.

Smith said that the responsibility for security begins with the tech companies themselves. “People can’t trust tech unless they have confidence in the companies that create the technology,” he said, noting that the Cambridge Analytica incident, in which Facebook user data was acquired illicitly by a now-defunct political data analytics company, was a turning point in public distrust of tech companies. “Tech companies and the sector as a whole need to address this, and they must start with acknowledging the scepticism,” he said. Action needs to be taken, he said. “The public has developed a keen ability to differentiate between words and deeds.”

He added, however, that “we shouldn’t look to the private sector alone to respond to what are essentially military grade cyberattacks. The private sector has not saved the nation from military attacks before.”

The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting brings together more than 3,000 global leaders from politics, government, civil society, academia, the arts and culture as well as the media. It engages some 50 heads of state and government, more than 300 ministerial-level government participants, and business representation at the chief executive officer and chair level. Convening under the theme, Globalization 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, participants are focusing on new models for building sustainable and inclusive societies in a plurilateral world. For further information, please click here.

Notes to editors

Watch live webcasts http://wef.ch/am19

Guide to how to follow and embed sessions on your website at http://wef.ch/howtofollow

View the best photos from the event at http://wef.ch/pix

Read the Forum Agenda at http://wef.ch/agenda

Become a fan of the Forum on Facebook at http://wef.ch/facebook

Watch Forum videos at http://wef.ch/video

Follow the Forum on Twitter via @wef and @davos, and join the conversation using #wef19

Follow the Forum on Instagram at http://wef.ch/instagram

Follow the Forum on LinkedIn at http://wef.ch/linkedin

Learn about the Forum’s impact on http://wef.ch/impact

Subscribe to Forum news releases at http://wef.ch/news

All opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.