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Microsoft president Brad Smith speaking at Web Summit in Lisbon in November 2018 Stephen McCarthy /Web Summit via Getty Images
Microsoft president Brad Smith speaking at Web Summit in Lisbon in November 2018

Microsoft, Google Back Paris Cyber Pledge on Chips, Hacks

Microsoft, Google, and Samsung backed a Paris cybersecurity pledge to unite tech giants and governments in battling election tampering, compromised electronic components, and software hacks • Hundreds of companies, non-profit groups and governments have signed the pledge • It is a reaction to recent cyber-wars that have disrupted elections and hobbled businesses

Marie Mawad and Helene Fouquet (Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp., Google and Samsung Electronics Co. are backing a cybersecurity pledge coming out of Paris that promises to unite tech giants and governments in battling election tampering, compromised electronic components and software hacks.

Hundreds of companies, non-profit groups and governments -- including France and the U.S., but not China or Russia -- have signed the “Paris call for trust and security in cyberspace,” which came about under the auspices of President Emmanuel Macron, French officials said.

The tech pledge is a reaction to cyber-wars that, over the past years, disrupted elections in places like the U.S. and France and hobbled businesses through attacks such as WannaCry and NotPetya. It builds on previous accords like the one signed in April by the tech industry, but reaches beyond just companies or governments for a broader alliance.

“Since 2016, we’ve seen attacks by some countries undermining democracies,” Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, told reporters in Paris. Microsoft spotted cyber-assault attempts on all major candidates during the French elections last year and, in the U.S., some attacks were successful during the 2016 elections, he said.

Come Together

“It’s important that the world’s democracies come together,” Smith said. “Almost never does the world come together in a way that is global -- there are stepping stones to a global consensus. It’s especially important that the like-minded countries come together.”

Macron hosted some 70 executives, politicians, city mayors and entrepreneurs for lunch on Monday at the Elysee presidential palace to discuss technology: specifically cybersecurity threats, election tampering and fake news. The guest list included executives from Microsoft and Facebook Inc., the Paris and London mayors, as well as representatives from the UN, the EU Commission and governments of countries including the U.K.

The announcement comes amid a series of events taking place in Paris, including the Peace Forum and Internet Governance Forum, and following commemorations of the end of World War I that Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin attended on Sunday.

Protecting Citizens

As part of the technology-focused accord unveiled Monday, country chiefs are committing to protecting citizens from government-financed cyber-weapons. Key engagements from technology companies include upgrading products throughout their life cycle to address security loopholes, and preserving the integrity of the supply chain.

“It’s increasingly important that we keep components for digital products protected, from a hardware and software basis,” Microsoft’s Smith said. “Ultimately it means having devices with hardware and software we can trust, that the components in these devices don’t have vulnerabilities that were placed there for the purpose of a nation-state or any other attacks.”

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