Microsoft calls for broader multilateral digital convention to enhance cybersecurity norms and rules

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Kunle Awosika, Director, Small & Medium Corporates, Microsoft Sub Saharan Africa

Microsoft’s commitment to enhance trust and continue partnering with the Rwanda Government among other government across Africa is un-wavered, Kunle Awosika, Director, Small and Medium Corporates (SMC), Microsoft Sub-Sahara Africa said in his keynote at the premier Cloud and Security Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda.

The summit organised by CIO East Africa in-conjunction with Rwanda Information Society Association (RISA), witnessed Awosika passionately point out that such a convention should commit governments to avoiding cyber-attacks that target the private sector or critical infrastructure or use of hacking to steal intellectual property a habitual occurrence that is so evident today.

Awosika impressed on the need for industry players having a global convention to enhance cybersecurity norms as he quoted Microsoft’s President for legal services Brad Smith, a proficient technology lawyer who submitted to the US Senate stating: “We cannot use the same laws written in the era of “Adding Machines” to address 21st century technology.”

“We may need a world-wide Digital Geneva Convention where governments around the world should pursue a broader multilateral agreement that affirms cybersecurity norms and rules.”

Kunle Awosika, Director, Small & Medium Corporates, Microsoft Sub Saharan Africa

World-wide Digital Geneva Convention

He said: “We may need a world-wide Digital Geneva Convention where governments around the world should pursue a broader multilateral agreement that affirms cybersecurity norms and rules.”

Akin to the 1949 adoption of the Fourth Geneva Convention to protect civilians in times of war, when world governments came together, “We need a Digital Geneva Convention that will commit governments to implement the norms that have been developed to protect users on the internet,” stressed Awosika.

At the eventful summit themed: Protecting the Digital Space Awosika affirmed Microsoft’s commitment to collaboration with various entities in a bid to better the digital landscape. “We at Microsoft will continue to partner with the Rwanda Government, several other governments across Africa and the private sector at large. “In fact our proposition is we should have a Geneva Convention where governments around the world should pursue a broader multilateral agreement that affirms cybersecurity norms and rules.”

He asserted that Microsoft is challenging the US Department of Justice on data protection issues following pointers that current laws are antiquated and ill-suited for dealing with 21st Century technology.

He noted that deliberating with the delegates on the critical subject of how to protect the digital space was an honour much as it was a topic that is of grave concern. Awosika stirred the audience as he shared his thought on cloud and security.

“I think cloud and security are “conjoined twins” and inseparable, hence will like to salute the organizing team for putting this exclusive summit together,” said Awosika noting that by working for a technology giant with presence across the globe, much must be done about empowering organizations.

“Innovation without the associated security is doomed to fail,” quipped Awosika adding; “Innovation without the legal framework to protect its citizen is recipe for chaos and innovation without the cloud is limiting and cannot scale and that is why the combination of Cloud technology and aSecurity posture enhances TRUST.

“I would say over 190 countries with a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) of empowering every individual and organization on the planet should collaborate to achieve more,” he said while pointing out challenges that range from empowering people, imparting the right skills in different markets and pacing up in a world where technology is moving at neck breaking speed and organizations are fast transforming into the digital world without the accompanying laws to protect the citizens.

He underscored the fact that although every organization is trying to cope with innovation and transformation such move need to be associated with security or else get exposed to failure.

“Innovation without the associated security is doomed to fail,” quipped Awosika adding; “Innovation without the legal framework to protect its citizen is recipe for chaos and innovation without the cloud is limiting and cannot scale and that is why the combination of Cloud technology and a Security posture enhances TRUST.

Kunle Awosika, Director, Small & Medium Corporates, Microsoft Sub Saharan Africa

Trust is more than a handshake

Awokisa reinforced the trust element by referring to a 2002 memo sent by Bill Gates to all Microsoft employees. He expressed the idea that trustworthy computing is more important than any other part of work as a company. “He foresaw the future of Services, AI, Machine Learning and big data and said IF we don’t build Security and Trust as part of our DNA of our products we will go extinct,” he asserted.

He talked about “Trust” being more than a “Handshake” it’s an agreement, a bond between the user of the digital service and the service provider.

He said, we all play games with friends, store confidential information, search for things that are deeply personal, build startups businesses, teach our kids and communicate over public networks.

There are those who want to harm, attack, steal, insult, bully and exploit others online. Trust of our systems is therefore essential and the most critical ingredient for us to consume technology,” said Awosika as he buttressed his point referring to a recent article by Warren Buffet who said: “Cybercrime is now more dangerous to humanity than nuclear weapons!”

These technologies have opened new opportunities and possibilities for well intentioned, like-minded people to communicate, collaborate, learn and grow but the flip side is also drawing major concerns. Why? “There are those who want to harm, attack, steal, insult, bully and exploit others online. Trust of our systems is therefore essential and the most critical ingredient for us to consume technology,” said Awosika as he buttressed his point referring to a recent article by Warren Buffet who said: “Cybercrime is now more dangerous to humanity than nuclear weapons!”

 

Worrisome cybercrime

It is estimated that cybercrime will cost the global economy $6 trillion annually by 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015. This represents the greatest transfer of economic wealth in history and will be more profitable than the global trade of all major illegal drugs combined.

Cost caused by global ransomware attacks are predicted to exceed $5 billion, up from $325 million in 2015, and this figure is expected to worsen.

Ransomware attacks on healthcare organizations for example, the Number 1 cyber-attacked industry in the world, will quadruple by 2020. That’s only two years away!

Given these alarming stats and predictions, the words of Mr Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO and the esteemed Mr. Buffet have never been more profound – Cyber Security is indeed the most pressing issue of our time for businesses and nation states.

He noted that it is against this background that Microsoft established the digital crimes unit (DCU), scanning telemetry of data across billions of devices and services to address any violations or malicious attempts.

He noted that as a Services and Platform company Microsoft and several other technology players are keen to unravel this concern and contribute to the dialogue and help build digital assets that can transform growth and service delivery for government and its citizens.

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