‘We can’t meet this challenge alone’, says Biden.
A high-profile meeting with the head of some of the world’s biggest industries such as tech, financial services companies, energy and more last Wednesday together with President Joe Biden to discuss the nation’s cybersecurity preparedness
Prominent figured from the tech giants such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft were on the guest list. It also includes the financial sector giants such as Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase; there were also CEO’s and leaders from the energy sector such as Southern Company. The list goes on to include insurance and education sectors as well as many other not mentioned.
While speaking to those CEO’s Biden mentioned the nations efforts to combat cyberattacks, including his plans in bringing together 30 nations to work together to combat ransomware.
The private sector pretty much owns and operates the critical infrastructures. The federal government does not have the capacity to tackle this challenge alone. He asked the participants of the meeting to raise the bar on cybersecurity.
There were a handful of massive attacks on government systems over the years. These include the Department of Defense hack by Russian hackers last December 2020. A ransomware attach on Colonial Pipeline in April, and in July stating that China-Based hackers attacked 23 U.S. pipeline companies from 2011 up to 2013; thus for the call for improved cybersecurity to be ramped up to the national level.
White House announced that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will work with industry partners to create a new framework to improve the security and integrity of the technology supply chain. Following the meeting the Biden administration also announced the expansion of the Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity Initiative to natural gas pipelines.
As a result of the meeting, Microsoft has announced that it will spend $20 billion over the next 5 years to boost the company’s cybersecurity capabilities. They will also provide $150 million in services to federal, state, and local governments to improve their cyber defenses. Amazon has announced that it will make the cybersecurity training materials it has developed to keep its employees and sensitive information safe from cyberattacks available to the public. The company will provide qualified AWS customers with a free multi-factor authentication device to help protect them from cyberattacks.
Meanwhile, Google said it will invest $10 billion over the next five years to expand its zero-trust programs to help secure the software supply chain and enhance open-source security.
As for Apple, for its part, said it will create a new program to build out security improvements for the technology supply chain by working with its suppliers to ensure they use multi-factor authentication, have security training, and understand vulnerability remediation, event logging, and incident response.
U.S. Bancorp CEO Andy Cecere thanked Biden for holding the meeting.
“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,” he said in the statement.
Ironically enough, the Biden administration reportedly pursues investigations of Apple, Google, and Amazon for potential antitrust violations. This is due to the fact that repeated criticisms of said Tech Giants role in the spread of disinformation from the president and his team.
With regards to the Colonial Pipeline hack, it cut off almost 50% of the fuel capacity for the East Coast which had resulted in shortages in some states as drivers bought and hoarded as much gasoline as possible, thus prompting the president to emphasize that there is a need for the greater private sector to ramp up its investment in cybersecurity.
President Biden was set to ask for that type of investments from the CEO’s present last Wednesday, however his administration have developed a complicated relationship on many fronts with the tech giants.
There were incidents that the Biden administration have said there some tech giants have been aiding in vaccine misinformation. They may have even taken a tough stance towards tech giants like Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple.
Despite of the above mentioned, the country would still be needing help from the tech giants to help protect against cyberattacks.
Aside from the high-profile attacks, states and local municipalities have also been plagued by cyberattacks that impact everything which even their 9-1-1 systems.
Remediating the attacks can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost time, labor and new equipment. There are just things localities do not have. Such hacks often stem from outdated software, user error, or poorly configured security systems.
Last May, President Biden has acknowledged that he cannot force private companies to take measures to prevent attacks, but stated that “It’s becoming clear to everyone that we have to do more than is being done now.” His administration has proposed nearly $1 billion in grants within the $1 trillion infrastructure bill for cybersecurity improvements for state, local, and tribal governments.
Moving forwards from the pipeline hacks, the federal government are now requiring any cyberattacks on their systems to be reported to the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and implement means to protect against future cyberattacks.
With supply security being raised during the meeting, this would be a key element of Vice President Kamala Harris trip to Asia this week. She announced a new partnership with Singapore to ensure resilient supply chains and held a round table event on the issue on Tuesday.
The pandemic has taken its toll on everybody. It has brought out the good and the bad. It has even highlighted the deficiencies, failures and a whole plethora of needed chances. It is up to all of us to what to do with what we have.