President Joe Biden met with business and government leaders Wednesday to discuss improving cybersecurity following high-profile attacks that raised questions about the vulnerability of so-called critical infrastructure.
Biden and critical cabinet officials hosted CEOs from Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and leaders from the finance and utilities sectors.
The meeting comes after attacks and data breaches that have targeted a major US oil pipeline, a meatpacking company, and the Microsoft Exchange email system, as well as ransomware attacks affecting various industries.
“I have invited you all here today because you have the power, the ability, and the responsibility, I believe, to raise the bar on cybersecurity,” Biden said.
Following the talks, major technology companies, including three world leaders in cloud computing, announced training programs and investments in cybersecurity.
Microsoft, for example, plans to inject $ 20 billion into its cybersecurity efforts over five years, as well as “$ 150 million to help US government agencies improve protections,” according to a tweet from CEO Satya Nadella.
Amazon promised in a statement to make its employee security training available to the general public, and Google said it would invest $ 10 billion over five years to help “secure the software supply chain.”
The latest attacks, affecting Microsoft email servers and widely deployed SolarWinds security software, raise questions about protecting 16 “critical infrastructure” sectors, including energy, utilities, defense, food, and manufacturing.
Some analysts have called for stricter sanctions against Russia and other countries accused of harboring cybercriminals. Others have suggested increased scrutiny of cryptocurrency, which hackers use to collect ransomware.
A senior administration official told reporters that the meeting would focus on “concrete” measures to improve security.
The official added that the recent attacks have “created a sense of urgency” and the need to refocus attention from the government and the private sector.
“We want to focus on the root causes of any malicious (cyber) activity,” the official said.
This means ensuring more robust software and hardware systems in both government and industry.
“We need to transition to a system where security is there by default,” the official said.
The session was attended by CEOs Sundar Pichai from Google, Andy Jassy from Amazon, Tim Cook from Apple, and Nadella from Microsoft.
The meeting also included senior executives from JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, other financial and insurance companies, and the directors of water and energy companies and educational organizations.
Government leaders included Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and top cybersecurity advisers.