Washington | US President Joe Biden on Wednesday called the ministers and chiefs of tech giants and major companies at the White House for an emergency meeting on cybersecurity, after a wave of cyber attacks highlighted major vulnerabilities.
“The reality is that most of our critical infrastructure is privately owned and operated, and the government cannot meet this challenge alone,” the president said.
“I invited you here today because you have the strength, ability and responsibility, I believe, to raise the bar when it comes to cybersecurity. We have a lot of work to do.”
Presidents Sundar Pichai (Google), Andy Gacy (Amazon), Tim Cook (Apple) and Satya Nadella (Microsoft) have arrived at the White House, as have the heads of major banks, insurance companies and essential service groups (water and electricity).
Data theft and ransomware attacks have escalated in recent months, targeting several companies and organizations, including the US pipeline operator, the meatpacking company, the Irish Health Services IT system, and a major Indian airline.
A senior government official told reporters on Tuesday that the incidents “created a sense of urgency” before promising “concrete announcements”.
“We must move towards a system in which security is provided by default,” he said.
The goal of the meeting is to identify vulnerabilities that allow hackers to break into systems, thus making equipment and software more water-resistant and resistant.
“According to your estimates and calculations, approximately half a million cybersecurity jobs have not been filled,” Joe Biden said on Wednesday.
“They know where they are and who they are”
The massive cyber attack that hit the United States at the end of 2020 affected Microsoft’s email servers and led to the hacking of the US company SolarWinds’ Orion software, used to manage and oversee computer networks of large companies or departments.
This episode raised questions about protecting 16 “key infrastructures,” including energy, defense, industrial production, and food.
Some analysts have called for tougher sanctions against Russia and other countries accused of harboring pirates.
“We have mobilized the G7 countries to take action against the countries that harbor these criminals,” the US president said.
“And I had a summit with Vladimir Putin where I made it clear to him that we also expect actions from him, because they know where they are and who they are.”
Other experts suggest better regulating cryptocurrencies, which are used by ransom hackers to restore the service they blocked, according to the principle of ransomware.
Executives from JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and other financial and insurance companies, as well as the heads of water, gas and electricity suppliers, were invited. Directors of organizations devoted to education also participate in the discussions.
The meetings are led by the secretaries of commerce and homeland security and senior cybersecurity advisers.
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