Digital Technology and the Devastating War in Ukraine
Adepteq have been closely following the tragic, unlawful and unjustified invasion of Ukraine. This has become both a kinetic and digital war, with horrifying images from across Ukraine as well as less visible cyberattacks on computer networks and internet-based disinformation campaigns.
Protection from cyberattacks
One of Microsoft’s principal and global responsibilities as a company is to help defend governments and countries from cyberattacks. This role been more important than ever during the last month in Ukraine, where the Ukrainian government and many other organisations and individuals are valued customers. Microsoft have provided threat intelligence and defensive suggestions to Ukrainian officials regarding attacks on a range of targets, including Ukrainian military institutions and manufacturers and several other Ukrainian government agencies. They also continue to share appropriate information with NATO officials in Europe and American officials in Washington. All this builds on Microsoft’s work in recent weeks and months to address escalating cyber activity against Ukrainian targets, including new forms of destructive malware that they previously have discussed publicly. Microsoft will continue to share more detailed information publicly when we identify new malware that needs to be shared with the global security community. They will also continue to constantly update all of Microsoft’s services, including their anti-malware Defender service, to help protect against any potential spread of malware to other customers and countries.
Protection from state-sponsored disinformation
Microsoft are also focused in protecting against state-sponsored disinformation campaigns, which have long been a common trend in times of war. The past few weeks have seen kinetic warfare accompanied with a well-orchestrated battle ongoing in the information ecosystem where the ammunition is disinformation, undermining truth and sowing seeds of discord and distrust. This requires decisive efforts across the tech sector – both individually by companies and in partnership with others – as well as with governments, academia and civil society.
Microsoft are moving quickly to take new steps to reduce the exposure of Russian state propaganda, as well to ensure their own platforms do not inadvertently fund these operations. In accordance with the EU’s recent decision, the Microsoft Start platform (including MSN.com) will not display any state-sponsored RT and Sputnik content. We are removing RT news apps from their Windows app store and further de-ranking these sites’ search results on Bing so that it will only return RT and Sputnik links when a user clearly intends to navigate to those pages. Finally, Microsoft are banning all advertisements from RT and Sputnik across their ad network and will not place any ads from their ad network on these sites.
Support for humanitarian aid
One of the unpleasant consequences of all wars is the impact on the civilian population, including individuals and families that shelter in place and displaced peoples who flee elsewhere for safety. Recent weeks in Ukraine have provided a visible reminder to the world of the human impact that we work globally to help address in conflict zones around the world. The Microsoft Philanthropies and UN Affairs teams work closely with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and multiple UN agencies, and they have moved quickly to mobilise their resources to help people in Ukraine.
Microsoft are committed to using their technology, skills, resources and voice to assist in humanitarian response efforts. Their initial and immediate focus has been on support for humanitarian organisations such as the ICRC that are doing critical work to help support refugees fleeing into neighboring countries. Microsoft have also activated the Microsoft Disaster Response Team to provide technology support, and they are in frequent touch with additional first responders to provide help.
Protection of employees
Microsoft has employees located around the world, including in Ukraine, Russia and across eastern Europe. They also have many employees of both Ukrainian and Russian origin working in many other locations, including western Europe and the United States.
As they have witnessed in other recent conflicts, Microsoft see in their employees a common bond and humanitarian spirit that spans borders, longs for peace and cares about the welfare of each other regardless of the nation in which they were born or the passport they hold. Every hour provides a powerful reminder that the darkest of days can also bring out the best in people, whether through ambitious efforts to protect against broad cyberattacks or a small gesture of kindness by one person asking what they can do to help another.
Like other multinational companies, Microsoft is devoted to the protection of its employees. This is of obvious and vital importance for their employees in Ukraine itself, and it includes ongoing and extraordinary efforts by our teams to help our employees and families, including those who have needed to flee for their lives or safety.
“As we look to the future, it’s apparent that digital technology will play a vital role in war and peace alike. Like so many others, we call for the restoration of peace, respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and the protection of its people. We not only look toward but will work for a future where digital technology is used to protect countries and peoples, helping us all to bring out the best in each other.”
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