McConnell Underlines Importance of Global Norms in Cyberspace

Media Coverage | July 05, 2016

EWI Global Vice President Bruce McConnell emphasizes the important role that technology companies play in establishing a set of norms in cyberspace. McConnell, who leads EWI's Global Cooperation in Cyberspace Initiative, is commenting on a new report released by Microsoft titled “From Articulation to Implementation: Enabling Progress on Cybersecurity Norms.”

"In some ways, companies like Microsoft are major cyberpowers in the way that nations are in terms of their influence on what happens on the internet," says Bruce McConnell in an interview with the Christian Science Monitor (CSM).

With a lack of consensus among governments about the red lines for digital espionage, says the CSM report, Microsoft is attempting to leverage its position in the global tech marketplace and lead the conversation around standards for how countries should conduct cyberoperations. 

In its recommendations released on June 23, Microsoft is pushing for states and technology firms to team up to halt the lucrative sale of nonpublic security flaws—or "zero-day" vulnerabilities—that are used in cyberattacks or espionage operations. 

The report also calls on governments to stop demanding tech companies intentionally insert vulnerabilities, or so-called "backdoors," into products that would create access for intelligence and law enforcement agencies, a similar sentiment expressed by Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and other firms following the recent legal battle between Apple and the FBI over access to the iPhone used by the shooter in the San Bernardino, Calif., mass shooting.

 Speaking to Dark Reading, a major online source for news and information on IT security, McConnell said that this was a new area.

“And as we move to the Internet of Things, it really doesn’t help to continue talking about doomsday scenarios. I understand why people might be skeptical about cybersecurity norms, but it’s certainly a good place to start,” he added.

To read a rundown by Dark Reading of Microsoft’s proposed norms for nation-states as well as for businesses, along with a quick analysis of the proposals based on interviews including with Bruce McConnell, click here.