Tech giants form cyber security 'supergroup'

Microsoft, Mastercard and others band together to help organisations get through attacks

A handful of major companies in the technology industry have joined forces to establish a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that will aim to hold back the tide of rampant global cyber crime.

The CyberPeace Institute, founded by Microsoft, Mastercard and the Hewlett Foundation, has been set up to decrease the severity and frequency of cyber attacks, and make the internet a much more stable environment generally.

The organisation will tackle this wider objective by aiding and defending victims, analysing and investigating threats, as well as promoting healthy cyber security standards and preventative guidance.

"Governments, the private sector, civil society and academia must be part of discussing solutions and taking concrete steps to protect people," said Microsoft's corporate vice president for customer security and trust, Tom Burt.

"Badly needed in the fight against cyber attacks is a credible source of research and analysis about the impact of cyber attacks around the globe on world citizens.

"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."

The head of the European Union's (EU) Internet Referral Unit Stphane Duguin will serve as CEO if the CyberPeace Institute, having previously played an integral role in creating Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3).

She will oversee an eight-member executive board, and a 13-member advisory board, that is made up of leading cyber security experts as well as those with expertise in international law, human rights and international affairs.

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"The global disruptions from cyber attacks are the symptoms of an insidious threat targeting civilians at a time of peace," Duguin said.

"We need concrete solutions to build resilience among vulnerable communities, shed light on the malicious activity of attackers and inform responsible behaviour in cyberspace.

"I am looking forward to leading the CyberPeace Institute towards these goals, and engaging academia, civil society, governments and industry in a collective pursuit of peace in cyberspace."

One of the institute's key initiatives will be to mobilise what it calls a CyberVolunteer Network, comprising a community of representatives from the industry, public sector, and academia. This network will work on assisting victims of cyber crime, in the form of an emergency incident response, as well as in longer-term recovery.

The network will also help vulnerable organisations to raise their level of cyber resilience and guard against future attacks. Some of these measures may span identifying dangerous attack trends and providing the tools to help organisations use technology more effectively.

Elsewhere, public awareness campaigns will strive to educate organisations and civilians about the impact of significant cyber attacks. The organisation will also work to find and plug potential gaps in legislation across the world.

Businesses have been struck with a host of emerging cyber threats in recent months. One of these newer threats is known as island hopping, with research showing that half of all attacks now use the mechanism.

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