Cyberattacks draw tech, bank CEOs to White House for brainstorm

Chief executives from across the business world are set to join President Biden for a discussion Wednesday on how industry and the federal government can partner to improve cybersecurity in the face of debilitating ransomware and cyberattacks.

The White House will meet with industry leaders to announce new public-private initiatives as well as cybersecurity workforce training efforts to fill the approximately 500,000 open jobs in the industry. Biden has called Apple CEO Tim Cook, Alphabet Inc.’s Google CEO Sundar Pichai, CEO Andy Jassy, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon to Washington to make commitments on workforce development and improvements to cybersecurity in their sectors, according to a senior administration official.

The meeting follows massive cyber and ransomware attacks over the past year on critical infrastructure, including that of Colonial Pipeline Co. and JBS SA, as well as software and cloud providers such as Microsoft and SolarWinds, which have largely been perpetrated by cyber groups based in Russia and China.

Biden’s administration continues to point to cybersecurity as a priority amid the uptick in attacks. Among the actions the White House has taken this year is an executive order directing federal agencies to boost security protocols and mandating cyber incident reporting from large pipeline companies. But more collaboration is needed between private companies and government, the official said, adding that the private sector in many cases has more authority or influence than the government to make necessary cybersecurity changes.

The meeting will focus on ransomware, the root causes of malicious cyber activity, and how to ensure that cybersecurity is baked into technology sold by industry from the start, according to the official.

Other participants include chief executives from International Business Machines and ADP as well as from the banking giants Bank of America, TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services LLC and U.S. Bancorp; the energy companies Southern Co. and Duke Energy; and the water and wastewater utilities including American Water Works Co.

Critical infrastructure, workforce

After a meeting with Biden, several key cabinet secretaries will lead three breakout sessions with the industry participants.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will lead a session on critical infrastructure resilience, with executives from the energy and water sectors.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and head of the Small Business Administration Isabella Guzman will meet with tech and insurance executives, including from Travelers Cos., on improving the security of cloud and tech systems.

Chris Inglis, the nation’s first national cyber director, will lead a third session focused on cybersecurity workforce. He will meet with leaders from education groups including Girls Who Code, Code.Org and several universities.

Anne Neuberger, the deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, and Jen Easterly, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, will also participate in the event.

The goal of the event is to announce new cyber workforce initiatives and convene the public and private sector to share new ideas and new discussions on improving cyber collaboration, the official said.

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