US Talks with Apple, Google, Amazon Microsoft over Ransomware attacks


President Joe Biden gathered Wednesday with business and government leaders to discuss improving cybersecurity following high-profile attacks that raised questions about the vulnerability of so-called critical infrastructure.

President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting on Cybersecurity
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 25: 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. Members of the Biden cabinet, national security team and leaders from the private sector attended the meeting about improving the nation’s cybersecurity. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Drew Angerer / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Attending the session were CEOs Sundar Pichai of Google, Andy Jassy of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple and Nadella of Microsoft.

The meeting also included top executives of JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and other finance and insurance companies, as well as the heads of water and energy companies and educational organizations.

Background Story

The gathering comes after hacks and data breaches that have targeted a major US oil pipeline, a meatpacking company and the Microsoft Exchange email system, as well as ransomware attacks hitting various sectors.

The latest attacks, which affected Microsoft email servers and the widely deployed SolarWinds security software, raise questions about protecting 16 “critical infrastructure” sectors including energy, utilities, defense, food and manufacturing.

US interested in Raising the Bar on Cybersecurity

“I’ve invited you all here today because you have the power and the capacity and responsibility, I believe, to raise the bar on cybersecurity,” Biden said.

A senior administration official told journalists the meeting would focus on “concrete” measures to improve security.

The recent attacks have “created a sense of urgency” and the need to refocus the attention of government and the private sector, the official added.

Way Forward

After the talks, major tech companies, including three global leaders in cloud computing, announced training programs and investments in cybersecurity.

Microsoft, for example, plans to inject $20 billion into its cybersecurity efforts over five years, as well as “$150 million to help US government agencies upgrade protections”, according to a tweet from CEO Satya Nadella.

“Thank you @POTUS for convening a critical conversation on cybersecurity. Microsoft will invest $20 billion to advance our security solutions over the next 5 years, $150 million to help US government agencies upgrade protections, and expand our cybersecurity training partnerships.”

Amazon promised in a statement to make its security training for employees available to the general public, and Google said it will invest $10 billion over five years to help “secure the software supply chain”.


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