February 28, 2021

Microsoft’s Brad Smith says health companies should be off-limits from cyberwarfare


As one of the world’s biggest tech companies, Microsoft says we need to take cybersecurity more seriously.

Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

This story is part of CES, where our editors will bring you the latest news and the hottest gadgets of the entirely virtual CES 2021.

Microsoft wants us to work together better to fight cyberattacks. The tech giant’s outspoken president, Brad Smith, said¬† companies need to work together more to help protect vital infrastructure, particularly health care.¬†

As the coronavirus pandemic has raged around the world, hackers have attacked hospitals, researchers and health organizations at a time they’re needed most, Smith said Wednesday during a livestreamed keynote speech at the digital CES. Hospitals and health organizations should be considered off-limits, he added.

Smith also said there are lessons we can pull from real-world attacks over the years. He noted that one of the worst attacks on American soil, 9/11, exposed the need for government agencies to communicate more, and do it more often. Now he believes we need to take the same approach with cyberattacks.

“Let’s learn from the past,” he said. “We need to move — as the 9/11 Commission said — from a culture where people only gave others information when they had a need to know. And in the words of that commission, change the culture, so that people feel a need to share.”

Smith’s comments mark the latest way that Microsoft is taking on a leadership role around cybersecurity in the tech world. The company has regularly published blog posts and research around security issues, and it’s discussed efforts to take down mass hacking projects around the world.

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