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Cyber threats top agenda at White House meeting with Big Tech, finance executives

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By Reuters
Cyber threats top agenda at White House meeting with Big Tech, finance executives
Cyber threats top agenda at White House meeting with Big Tech, finance executives   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON – The White House asked Big Tech, the finance industry and some infrastructure companies to do more to tackle the growing cybersecurity threat to the U.S. economy in a meeting with President Joe Biden and members of his Cabinet on Wednesday.

“The federal government can’t meet this challenge alone,” Biden told the masked executives, all seated at tables in the East Room. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Cybersecurity has risen to the top of the agenda for the Biden administration after a series of high-profile attacks on network management company SolarWinds Corp, the Colonial Pipeline company, meat processing company JBS and software firm Kaseya. The attacks hurt the United States far beyond just the companies hacked, affecting fuel and food supplies.

Biden touched on ransomware attacks and said he had pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin to hold Russian-based cyber gangs responsible.

The guest list included Inc CEO Andy Jassy, Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft Corp CEO Satya Nadella, Google’s parent Alphabet Inc CEO Sundar Pichai and IBM Chief Executive Arvind Krishna.

After the meeting, Amazon said it would make its cybersecurity training available to the public for free, and it would give multi-factor authentication devices to some cloud computing customers. Both initiatives will start in October, aiming to “help protect organizations and individuals from increasing cybersecurity threats,” it said in a press release.

Microsoft said it will invest $20 billion over five years, a four-fold increase from current rates, to speed up its cyber security work, and make available $150 million in technical services to help federal, state and local governments to help keep their security systems up to date.

IBM said it will train more than 150,000 people in cybersecurity skills over three years and will partner with historically black colleges and universities to create a more diverse cyber workforce. The company also said it was developing a new data storage technology to help companies that do get hacked recover more quickly.

Google said it was devoting $10 billion to cybersecurity over the next five years, but it was not immediately clear what if any of the figure represented new spending.

Congress is weighing legislation on data breach notification laws and cybersecurity insurance industry regulation, historically viewed as two of the most consequential policy areas within the field.

Executives for energy utility firm Southern Co and JPMorgan Chase & Co were also expected to attend the event.

The event featured top cybersecurity officials from the Biden administration, including National Cybersecurity Director Chris Inglis and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.