The US has suffered a spate of major cyberattacks targeting everyone from federal prosecutors to meat suppliers, and the White House is hoping some talks with key companies will lead to long-term security solutions. The Washington Post reports that President Biden, certain cabinet members and relevant security officials are holding talks with technology giants ADP, Amazon, Apple, Google, IBM and Microsoft on August 25 to see how they can help strengthen cybersecurity.
With the spate of ransomware attacks on the agenda, a senior Biden government official said the White House wants to address the “root causes” of cybersecurity problems. This included fixing a number of vulnerabilities, introducing “good operational practices” and hiring more security personnel.
The talks will also include financial and insurance giants (including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Travelers), as well as educational organizations like Code.org and Girls Who Code. While the Biden meeting is the focus of the discussions, the chats with cabinet members and officials will be billed as “informal” meetings that will help find definitive solutions.
The White House said the meetings were a recognition that the US needs a nationwide cybersecurity strategy that involves both the government and the private sector. It was also promised that this would not be the “final collaboration” with companies on security issues. It did so shortly after Biden took several steps to improve digital security for vital infrastructures, such as issuing an executive order to strengthen security standards and federal coordination.
As always, the question is whether the discussions lead to meaningful measures. Meeting with tech firms could help with top-down decision making, but that won’t matter much unless the other conversations also lead to tangible policy changes. This could be little more than a PR exercise if companies don’t (or can’t) commit to certain cybersecurity enhancements.
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