BT, Telefonica, Nokia and Arm were among 34 companies which signed an international agreement to protect consumers from criminals and nations misusing connectivity technology.

Companies joining the Cybersecurity Tech Accord promised to: boost defences; refuse to help governments launch cyberattacks against “innocent” citizens and enterprises; work with developers on enhanced security; and share details of new threats.

Although formal courses of action are yet to be decided, the group said future activities could include developing joint guidelines with the aim of making: “the online world a safer place for people and businesses everywhere – and uphold the promise and benefit technology offers society”.

Other signatories to the scheme include Facebook, Microsoft and Cisco. The group remains open to new members of any size from a broad range of sectors, provided the organisations are deemed trustworthy with high existing security standards.

Microsoft president and chief legal officer, Brad Smith, said: “The devastating attacks from the past year demonstrate that cybersecurity is not just about what any single company can do, but also about what we can all do together. This tech sector accord will help us take a principled path towards more effective steps to work together and defend customers around the world.”

Arm general counsel Carolyn Herzog added: “The Tech Accord will help to protect the integrity of the 1 trillion connected devices we expect to see deployed within the next 20 years. It aligns the resources, expertise and thinking of some of the world’s most important technology companies to help to build a trusted foundation for technology users who will benefit immensely from a more security connected world.”