By Christopher Bing
WASHINGTON -The White House is hosting an event on Wednesday that will bring together the largest U.S. technology companies for a discussion about cybersecurity challenges following a raft of high-profile hacking incidents earlier this year, people familiar with the event told Reuters.
It comes as Congress weighs new legislation concerning data breach notification laws and cybersecurity insurance industry regulation, historically viewed as two of the most consequential policy areas within the field.
The guest list includes Amazon.com Inc CEO Andy Jassy, Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft Corp CEO Satya Nadella, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and IBM Chief Executive Arvind Krishna, according to two people familiar with the event.
Another said the topics of discussion will include ransomware, critical infrastructure, supply chain security, cybersecurity education and data breach insurance policy.
Executives for energy utility firm Southern Co and financial giant JPMorgan Chase & Co are also expected to attend the event, Bloomberg previously reported.
One of the people familiar with the event said the participating companies are expected to make public commitments toward better IT security measures and for additional workforce training.
The event will feature top cybersecurity officials from the Biden administration, including recently confirmed National Cybersecurity Director Chris Inglis, as well as Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, to lead different conversations with industry representatives.
While the White House has continuously engaged the private sector for months over potential new cybersecurity rules, Wednesday’s planned event is unique in its inclusion of the insurance industry, according to three people familiar with the event.
The CEO of property and casualty insurer Travelers Companies Inc, Alan Schnitzer, will attend, they said.
Insurance companies play an important part in covering damages associated with data breaches. Experts contend that influencing the insurance market’s policies around cyberattacks could bring widespread improvements to cyber defense systems throughout private industry.
“The increased use of cyber insurance over the last 10 years has been an unfortunate stimulant to ransomware gangs – it has encouraged more attacks as insured victims are often quite willing to rapidly pull the trigger on ransom payments knowing that they will be reimbursed by insurance,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, chairman of the Silverado Policy Accelerator.
Ransomware functions by locking up an infected computer system, typically disrupting services to workers or customers, until an extortion is paid to the hackers.