On Wednesday, President Joe Biden met with the CEOs of some of the world’s largest digital, energy, and financial services corporations to address the country’s cybersecurity readiness.
On the guest list were executives from the world’s largest technological businesses, including newly appointed Amazon (AMZN) CEO Andy Jassy, Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook, Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL) CEO Sundar Pichai, and Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Satya Nadella.
Additionally, CEOs and executives from the financial industry, such as Bank of America (BAC) CEO Brian Moynihan and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon, as well as CEOs and leaders from energy, insurance, and education, attended the event.
Biden spoke to the CEOs about the administration’s efforts to combat cyberattacks, including bringing together 30 countries to collaborate on ransomware.
“But the reality is, most of our critical infrastructure owned and operated — is owned and operated by the private sector, and the federal government can’t meet this challenge alone,” Biden said. “So 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.”
Following the huge theft of government networks, including the Department of Defense, by Russian hackers in December 2020, cybersecurity has become a growing worry throughout the administration. The ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline in April, as well as the disclosure in July that Chinese hackers attacked 23 US pipeline businesses from 2011 to 2013, have only fueled calls for increased national cybersecurity.
Following the discussion, the White House announced that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will collaborate with industry partners to develop a new framework to strengthen technology supply chain security and integrity. The Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity Initiative will now include natural gas pipelines, according to the Biden administration.
Major announcements from the largest IT corporations in attendance were also made at the meeting. Microsoft, for example, recently declared that it will invest $20 billion over the next five years to improve its cybersecurity capabilities. It will also provide federal, state, and local governments with $150 million in services to help them improve their cyber defenses.
Meanwhile, Amazon has announced that it will make public the cybersecurity training materials it has built to protect its employees and sensitive data from cyberattacks. Qualified AWS customers will receive a free multi-factor authentication device to assist them defend themselves against threats.
Google announced a $10 billion investment over the next five years to develop its zero-trust programs, which will help safeguard the software supply chain and improve open-source security.
Apple, for one, has announced that it will launch a new program to improve the security of the technology supply chain by working with vendors to ensure that they use multi-factor authentication, receive security training, and are aware of vulnerability remediation, event logging, and incident response.
Coalition, a cybersecurity insurance company, said that it will make its cybersecurity risk assessment and monitoring platform available to any company for free.
U.S. Bank CEO Andy Cecere, who was also in attendance, thanked Biden for holding the meeting.
“U.S. Bank embraces our shared responsibility to protect our customers and the financial system from these serious threats to our nation’s security, economy and infrastructure,” Cecere said in a statement. “We’re committed to working with the White House, Congress and private sector partners to put the results of today’s productive discussions into action.”
The gathering also comes as the Biden administration reportedly pursues investigations of Apple, Google, and Amazon for potential antitrust violations and after repeated criticisms of Big Tech’s role in the spread of disinformation from the president and his team.
Biden and Big Tech
In May, the Colonial Pipeline was hacked, cutting off over half of the East Coast’s fuel capacity, causing shortages in some areas as cars stocked up on gasoline. Following the event, the president called for “more private-sector investment in cybersecurity.”
On Wednesday, Biden was set to ask the assembled CEOs for that kind of investment. But the meeting comes as he and his administration have developed a complicated relationship on many fronts with the tech giants.
On the one hand, the president and his advisors have frequently chastised their own corporations for how they conduct business. When questioned about his message for platforms like Facebook when it comes to vaccination misinformation in July, Biden responded, “They’re killing people.” The president later backtracked on his remarks, but he has maintained an adversarial attitude toward the business.
Biden has also surrounded himself with famous critics of Big Tech, such as Lina Khan, who was just appointed to lead the Federal Trade Commission, implying that his team would take a harsh position against tech behemoths like Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple.
On the other side, as the Wall Street Journal reported in May, Biden has surrounded himself with several tech industry veterans in his cabinet. The New York Times reported on Monday that Apple and Google were pressing Washington trade authorities to oppose a South Korean plan that may harm their app store businesses.
‘An ongoing negotiation’
Despite its rocky relationship with Silicon Valley, the Biden administration may need digital companies to help protect the country from cyberattacks.
Attacks on high-profile targets, such as the Colonial Pipeline, make international news. Aside from those high-profile examples, states and local governments have also been hit by hackers that have harmed everything from their records to their 9-1-1 systems.
Furthermore, resolving the attacks can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasted time, labor, and new equipment, money that many communities lack. Older software, user error, and poorly configured security systems are all common causes of such breaches.
Biden admitted in May that he can’t compel private enterprises to adopt security measures to prevent attacks. “It’s becoming evident to everyone that we need to do more than what we’re doing now,” he added.
Within the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, the Biden administration has proposed over $1 billion in incentives for cybersecurity enhancements for state, local, and tribal governments.
The federal government has also moved forward with new cybersecurity rules for pipeline operators, requiring them to report any cyberattacks on their systems to the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, as well as put in place safeguards to prevent future cyberattacks.
Vice President Kamala Harris has also made supply chain security a key element of a trip to Asia this week. She announced a new partnership with Singapore to ensure resilient supply chains and held a roundtable event on the issue on Tuesday.
The pandemic has “highlighted the fractures and the failures and the fissures in our systems,” Harris told leaders at the event.
Here’s the full list of attendees:
Bank of America – Brian Moynihan, President and CEO
JPMorgan Chase – Jamie Dimon, Chair and CEO
TIAA – Thasunda Brown Duckett, President and CEO
US Bancorp – Andrew Cecere, Chair, President & Chief Executive Officer
Energy and Water
American Water – Walter Lynch – President and CEO
ConocoPhillips – Ryan Lance, Chair and CEO
Duke Energy – Lynn Good, President and CEO
PG&E – Patti Poppe, CEO
SJW Group – Eric Thornburg, CEO
Southern Company – Tom Fanning, Chair, President and CEO
Williams – Alan Armstrong, President and CEO
ADP – Carlos Rodriguez, President and CEO
Alphabet (Google) – Sundar Pichai, CEO
Amazon – Andy Jassy, CEO
Apple – Tim Cook, CEO
IBM – Dr. Arvind Krishna, Chair and CEO
Microsoft – Satya Nadella, Chair and CEO
Coalition – Joshua Motta, Founder and CEO
Resilience – Vishaal Hariprasad, CEO
Travelers – Alan Schnitzer, Chair and CEO
Vantage Group Holdings – Greg Hendrick, CEO
Code.org – Hadi Partovi
Girls Who Code – Dr. Tarika Barrett
Tougaloo College – Dr. Carmen Walters, President
University of Texas System – JB Milliken, Chancellor
Whatcom Community College – Dr. Kathi Hiyane-Brown, President
Source: Yahoo News