Microsoft, Mastercard, Hewlett Foundation launch institute to investigate cyberattacks

Microsoft, Mastercard, Hewlett Foundation launch institute to investigate cyberattacks
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Microsoft, Mastercard, the Hewlett Foundation and other groups this week announced the launch of an independent institute aimed at investigating cyberattacks and assisting victims.

The CyberPeace Institute will work to coordinate recovery efforts for victims after a cyberattack and promote adherence to international rules and norms in cyberspace.

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A spokesperson for the institute told The Hill that Microsoft, Mastercard and the Hewlett Foundation were among a group of “core funders” that each pledged a range of funds of up to $5 million for the institute.

“Several other partners provide smaller amounts of support, ensuring that no single organization provides more than one third of the Institute’s funding,” the spokesperson said. “The Institute will continue to grow and diversify its pool of funders supporting its principles and mission.”

Governments have struggled to fully address debilitating international cyberattacks, which have only increased in recent years. The WannaCry virus encrypted about 300,000 computers in about 150 countries in 2017, while the NotPetya ransomware virus disabled about 10 percent of computers in Ukraine that same year.

“The escalating attacks we’ve seen in recent years are not just about computers attacking computers – these attacks threaten and often harm the lives and livelihoods of real people,” Tom Burt, the corporate vice president for Customer Security and Trust at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post announcing the institute. He added that health care, banking and electricity were among the basic services affected by cyberattacks. 

Burt noted that the group will help fill a gap for victims of cyberattacks.

“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,” Burt wrote. “It’s become clear that victims of attacks originating on the internet deserve similar assistance, and the CyberPeace Institute will do just that.”

Stéphane Duguin, who serves as head of the European Union’s Internet Referral Unit within Europol, will be the institute's CEO. Marietje Schaake, a former member of the European Parliament for The Netherlands, will serve as president and chairwoman.

“We need concrete solutions to build resilience among vulnerable communities, shed light on the malicious activity of attackers and inform responsible behavior in cyberspace," Duguin said in a statement.

The institute’s executive board members include Microsoft President Brad Smith, former Interpol President Khoo Boon Hui and Alejandro Becerra Gonzalez, the global information security director for Telefonica.

The advisory board for includes former Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Videgaray Caso and Joseph Nye, the former dean of Harvard University’s School of Government, along with individuals from the private sector and academia.

Schaake told The Hill that the institute is still in the process of getting started over the next few months, but that its launch this week equated to the “boat being put in the water.”