U.S 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.
Biden and key cabinet officials hosted chief executives of Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft, along with leaders from the finance and utilities sectors.
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.
“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.
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.
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”.
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.
Some analysts have called for tougher sanctions against Russia and other countries accused of harboring cybercriminals. Others have suggested more scrutiny of cryptocurrency, which is used by hackers to collect ransomware.