Late yesterday, Microsoft announced an information sharing initiative, the Security Cooperation Program, through which it will provide world governments with advance warning of global security threats. In return, participating governments will work cooperatively with the software giant, and exchange information that will help mitigate those threats. Canada, Chile, Norway and the US state of Delaware have signed on for the initiative.
"This innovative alliance demonstrates the government of Canada's commitment to cybersecurity," says Anne McLellan, the deputy prime minister and minister of public safety and emergency preparedness for the government of Canada. "Prevention of cyberdisruptions and improving our capacity to respond to incidents are critical to securing both our economy and public safety."
The Security Cooperation Program is a free, opt-in program open to world and local governments that Microsoft feels will help these institutions be better secured against cyberattacks. However, representatives of governments that do join the Security Cooperation Program must sign a confidentiality agreement. Participating governments can also cooperate with Microsoft on security-oriented programs such as community outreach and education activities, and the development of emergency incident response processes.
Microsoft says it instituted the program after getting feedback from government officials that they wanted more information than they could get from Microsoft's then-existing programs, including the Government Shared Source license, which provides access to the source code for Microsoft products such as Windows and Office. "Government customers have unique needs that we need to address and they've told us very specifically what those needs are," said Giorgio Vanzini, the director of Microsoft's government engagement team. Wednesday's announcement came during Microsoft's Government Leaders' Forum, which the company is hosting this week in Prague, Czech Republic.