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Biden Urges Technology Executives To 'Raise The Bar' On Cybersecurity

U.S. President Joe Biden has referred to cybersecurity as a "core national security challenge" for the United States. (file photo)
U.S. President Joe Biden has referred to cybersecurity as a "core national security challenge" for the United States. (file photo)

Some of the largest U.S. technology companies have committed to investing billions of dollars to strengthen cybersecurity after a series of high-profile attacks on U.S. companies believed to have been carried out by Russian hackers.

Microsoft and Google are among the technology companies that committed to making the investments on August 25 after their top executives met with President Joe Biden at the White House.

Citing ransomware attacks and his push to get Russian President Vladimir Putin to hold Russian-based cybergangs responsible, Biden told the executives that there's "a lot of work to do" and the federal government can't do it alone.

"You have the power, the capacity, and the responsibility, I believe, to raise the bar on cybersecurity," he said.

The Biden administration has been urging the private sector to do more to strengthen cybersecurity defenses against increasingly sophisticated attacks that have targeted critical infrastructure.

Among them were attacks on network management company SolarWinds, Colonial Pipeline company, meat processing company JBS, and software firm Kaseya. The damage caused by the attacks went beyond the companies hacked, affecting fuel and food supplies.

A senior administration official told journalists that the recent attacks have "created a sense of urgency" and the need to refocus the attention of the government and the private sector. This means ensuring more robust systems of computer software and hardware in both government and industry.

In public remarks before the White House meeting got under way, Biden referred to cybersecurity as a "core national security challenge" for the United States.

"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.

In addition to the CEOs of Microsoft and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, executives of Amazon, Apple, and other technology companies attended the meeting, along with executives of large U.S. banks and insurance companies.

After the meeting the White House said Microsoft pledged to spend $20 billion over five years -- a fourfold increase over current rates -- to speed up its cybersecurity work.

Google pledged to devote $10 billion to cybersecurity over the next five years, but it was not clear if the figure represented new spending.

Amazon said it would make its cybersecurity training available to the public for free and give multifactor authentication devices to some cloud computing customers starting in October. IBM will train more than 150,000 people in cybersecurity skills over three years, the company said.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP
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