Microsoft’s president Brad Smith has issued a blunt warning about the state of cyber security and the threats being faced online.
He named a number of nation states as being responsible for malicious cyberattacks targeting elections and the domestic politics of other countries.
Earlier this week the US and UK published details about the latest malicious cyber activities by Russia, which had targeting the 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The US Department Of Justice also this week officially charged six Russian GRU officers over the “worldwide deployment of destructive malware and other disruptive actions in cyberspace.”
And now Brad Smith told a gathering of security and defence officials on Wednesday that democracies around the world are under a constant barrage of cyberattacks that must be identified, called out and stopped.
According to Reuters, Smith was speaking at the Atlantic Future Forum.
Smith didn’t pull any punches and named and shamed the nation states most frequently engaged in malicious cyberattacks targeting elections and the domestic politics of other countries.
Smith named the chief culprits as Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.
“We’re living in this period of time that is certainly not necessarily war but doesn’t feel entirely like peace either,” he reportedly said. “It’s this grey zone where we see these constant cyberattacks.
“Five years ago, I think we thought about this principally in terms of attacks on, say, conventional infrastructure or our military capabilities, but today I think it’s just become an onslaught on democracy itself.”
Smith said the “hacking and weaponising” of private emails and disinformation campaigns posed the greatest threats. “I do believe it’s one of the greatest risks to the protection of our democracies today.”
This was a similar message to that delivered by Bill Gates, speaking at a public event last November when he also warned of the dangers posed by nation state hacking activities, and particularly the risks of hackers gathering personal data of voters.
More recently in June this year the Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, publicly announced that his country had been the target of a “sophisticated” cyber attack.
The Australian PM warned that an unnamed foreign government was behind it, with the finger of suspicion firmly pointed at China.
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