Biden, Big Tech Pledge Massive Investment To Address ‘Root Causes’ Of Cyberattacks

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Ailan Evans Deputy Editor
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President Joe Biden and executives from major tech companies and financial institutions announced several massive investments designed to improve U.S. cyber defense following a meeting Wednesday.

The meeting included Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Apple’s Tim Cook, Amazon’s Andy Jassy, and Google parent company Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai, along with executives from IBM, J.P. Morgan Chase and energy firm Southern Co. The executives, along with cabinet officials, including Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, discussed how private sector and government agencies could work together to improve nationwide cyber defense.

In his opening remarks, Biden stressed the importance of private companies collaborating with the federal government to defend against cyber threats, and urged the companies to improve their cybersecurity.

“The reality is, most of our critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector, and the federal government can’t meet this challenge alone,” Biden said. “I’ve invited you all here today because you have the power and the capacity and the responsibility, I believe, to raise the bar on cybersecurity.”

The primary purpose of the meeting was to address “the root causes of any kind of malicious cyber activity,” senior administration officials said at a briefing announcing the meeting. The officials said private companies would take “concrete steps” to beef up their cybersecurity.

Following the meeting, Google announced it was committing $10 billion to improve its cybersecurity, including expanding its zero-trust computing programs and enhancing the security of open-source software used by many federal agencies and companies. The company also said it would help 100,000 Americans earn certifications in fields such as information technology and data analytics.

Microsoft said it will invest $20 billion over the next five years to improve its cybersecurity standards, $150 million of which will help local, state and federal governments maintain their cyber defense systems, according to a White House announcement. The company was itself the victim of a cyber attack earlier this year when its Exchange email service was allegedly breached by Chinese-sponsored hackers.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting about cybersecurity in the East Room of the White House on August 25, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting about cybersecurity in the East Room of the White House on August 25, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Amazon announced it will give its Amazon Web Services customers free multi-factor authorization tools as well as free cybersecurity training materials, while IBM said it would help 150,000 people over the next three years learn cybersecurity skills, according to the White House. Apple said it would work with its suppliers to implement security measures and improve responses to cyber threats.

The Biden administration also announced a partnership with private companies to set security standards for the supply chain. (RELATED: Declassified Report Reveals Chinese Hackers Gained Access To US Pipeline Systems 10 Years Ago)

Biden passed an executive order on cybersecurity in May, which instructed the government to only procure tech products that met certain cybersecurity standards and required critical infrastructure companies to report cyber attacks to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. He also undertook a 100-day initiative through the Department of Energy that improved cybersecurity standards across the electric grid.

The Biden administration has made cybersecurity a priority following a string of ransomware attacks that affected major businesses and critical infrastructure earlier this year.

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