Every member of the European Union are a part of the 51 states that pledged their support for an international agreement to set standards on cyberweapons and the use of the Internet.
The states signed the “Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace,” in an effort to fire up a global plan to set standards for things like cyberweapons.
Among the notable countries that did not sign the pact are China, Russia and the United States. They are resisting setting standards for cyberweapons.
“We need norms to avoid a war in cyberspace which would be catastrophic,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
Those that signed the pact are calling for a “Digital Geneva Convention,” which set standards for the use of cyberweapons, much like the Geneva Convention set standards for the conduct of wars.
One case in point is the states should commit to not attacking infrastructure which is depended upon by civilians during wartime.
A new international norm would also help define a state-backed cyberattack and when a state could be justified in retaliating.
Dozens of countries are thought to have developed offensive cyberweapons.
“We need to move these norms forward,” Microsoft president Brad Smith said at the Paris Peace Forum, held to mark the the end of World War I.
In a presentation at the forum, Smith portrayed cyberweapons as having the potential to spark another mass conflict.
He said 2017 was a “wake-up call for the world” because of the WannaCry and NotPetya attacks.
WannaCry crippled hospitals in Britain and affected 150 countries in 24 hours. It is thought to have been deployed from North Korea.
Experts attribute NotPetya, which hit banking, power and business computing systems across Ukraine, to Russia.
But security officials note those two attacks appear to be based on code stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency.
“In a world where everything is being connected, anything can be affected, which is why we need to come together,” Smith added.
The pact has also been signed by 93 civil society groups and 218 companies.
“To respect people’s rights and protect them online as they do in the physical world, states must work together, but also collaborate with private-sector partners, the world of research and civil society,” according to the text.