US tech firms pledge to strengthen cybersecurity with billions in investment after meeting with Biden
- Amazon, Apple, Google, IBM and Microsoft pledged new investments, training and programs to help improve cybersecurity
- The meeting with the US president came after a stretch of several ransomware attacks targeting critical infrastructure and major companies
The Biden administration has been urging the private sector to do its part to protect against those increasingly sophisticated attacks. In public remarks before the meeting, Biden referred to cybersecurity as a “core national security challenge” for the US.
“The reality is most of our critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector, and the federal government cannot meet this challenge alone,” Biden said. “I’ve invited you all here today because you have the power, the capacity and the responsibility, I believe, to raise the bar on cybersecurity.”
Top executives of each of those companies were invited to Wednesday’s meeting, as were financial industry executives and representatives from the energy, education and insurance sectors. A government initiative that at first supported the cybersecurity defences of electric utilities has now been expanded to focus on natural gas pipelines, the White House said Wednesday.
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Though ransomware was intended as one aspect of Wednesday’s gathering, a senior administration official who briefed reporters in advance said the purpose was much broader, centred on identifying the “root causes of any kind of malicious cyber activity” and also ways in which the private sector can help bolster cybersecurity. The official briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity.
The meeting took place as Biden’s national security team has been consumed by the troop withdrawal in Afghanistan and the chaotic evacuation of Americans and Afghan citizens. That it remained on the calendar indicates the administration regards cybersecurity as a major agenda item, with the administration official describing Wednesday’s meeting as a “call to action”.
In both instances, the companies made multimillion-dollar ransom payments in an effort to get back online.