Microsoft’s chief strategy officer Craig Mundie suggested that internet users should get mandatory training before being allowed online.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mundie proposed a three-tier system of authentication - for people, devices and applications. He said that while this would mean some loss of anonymity online, people were used to having to present identification in other areas of life and the internet should not be any different.
"If you want to drive a car you have to have a license to say that you are capable of driving a car, the car has to pass a test to say it is fit to drive, and you have to have insurance," he said.
"People don't understand the scale of criminal activity on the internet. Whether criminal, individual or nation states, the community is growing more sophisticated."
He pointed out that it was perfectly reasonable to have anonymity when simply walking down the street, but if you enter a bank and ask to access funds you need an ID.
International Telecommunications Union secretary general Hamadoun Toure used the meeting to suggest that nations should sign up to a cyberwar treaty, guaranteeing that they would not launch an online ‘first strike.’
"A cyber war would be worse than a tsunami -- a catastrophe," he said, adding that the attacks on Estonia were just the beginning.
Countries also would sign up to not harbouring cyber terrorists and would guarantee freedom of information to its citizens, he suggested.
A McAfee spokesman at the event warned that China, the United States, Russia, Israel and France are among 20 countries currently gearing up to take warfare online and the world was facing a new arms race online.
“A former US Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, asked me about the possibility of the Senate passing an international treaty on cybersecurity, if one were to be drafted, or absent that, a cybersecurity bill for the US,” wrote US Senator Susan Collins in her blog of the event.
“Our Homeland Security Committee is working on such legislation, but there are many obstacles to overcome.”