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Big companies back new CyberPeace Institute in Geneva

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The institute works to assist those who cannot defend themselves in the face of cyber attacks and promote a more secure online world. Keystone / Sascha Steinbach

Microsoft and Mastercard are among the big companies behind the CyberPeace Institute launched in Geneva on Thursday. The non-profit institute seeks to help people negatively affected by conflicts in cyberspace.

The launch of the institute was announced on Thursday and reinforces Geneva’s position as a hub on cybersecurity and governance of new technologies. Strong government support and availability of experts helped Geneva beat out other cities in the running to host the institute.

The institute will be an independent non-governmental organisation with key functions including assisting the most vulnerable victims of cyberattacks, assessing the harm, and promoting responsible behaviour in cyberspace.

In a press releaseExternal link, CEO of the institute Stéphane Duguin, formerly at Europol, said, “The global disruptions from cyberattacks are the symptoms of an insidious threat targeting civilians at a time of peace.”

Among the companies funding the institute, Microsoft has been working towards a Digital Geneva ConventionExternal link, a legally binding framework to govern states’ behaviour in cyberspace and prevent negative impacts of new technologies.

Swiss efforts

Switzerland has been boosting its capabilities in cyber security over the last few years. The government recently established the Geneva Science and Diplomacy AnticipatorExternal link foundation with the local Geneva government to promote links between science, innovation and diplomacy.

The country’s two federal technology institutes also launched a new Masters degree in cyber-security this past spring as part of an effort to play a leading role in studying the protection of computers and networks.

Switzerland will be bringing its academic expertise to the institute. Martin Vetterli, president of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), will sit on the Executive Board of the Institute, and the EPFL Center for Digital Trust is named as a scientific partner of the CyberPeace Institute.

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