Following a meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House, business leaders from key sectors of the economy pledged to help harden the country against cyberattacks on Wednesday. Biden described cybersecurity jobs as a “core national security challenge” and cited recent high-profile attacks on US businesses that have disrupted life for everyday Americans. 

In the wake of a spate of ransomware and other cyberattacks that have ratcheted up tensions with US adversaries and caused the President to sign an executive order bolstering federal IT security in May, the Biden administration had its most conspicuous engagement with private sector executives yet. 

We’ve seen time and again how the technologies we rely on, from our cell phones to pipelines, the electric grid, can become targets of hackers and criminals,” Biden said in opening remarks to gathered CEOs from Silicon Valley, the water and energy sectors jobs, the banking and insurance industries and academic institutions, who all wore masks at the in-person event. 

According to a senior administration official, the conference was a “call to action” for the private sector, which comprises thousands of enterprises that may lack the know-how or resources to defend themselves against hackers on their own. 

As a result, big titans like Google and IBM pledged on Wednesday to train hundreds of thousands of cybersecurity experts over the next several years to help fill the half-million unfilled jobs in the security field, according to the US government. 

Google announced a $10 billion investment in cybersecurity initiatives. IBM also announced that it would expand the availability of a secure backup solution already in use by critical infrastructure operators. Microsoft announced that it would invest $20 billion in cybersecurity programs over the next five years, as well as $150 million in support for federal, state, and local governments looking to improve their security. Amazon’s cloud computing business has announced that US customers who spend at least $100 per month on Amazon Web Services will receive free multi-factor authentication devices. 

Apple announced that it would urge its suppliers to improve their cybersecurity by using multi-factor authentication and better logging, a move that could improve Apple’s supply chain’s security. According to the administration’s information sheet, more than 9,000 Apple’s suppliers are based in the United States. 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology will collaborate with Microsoft, Google, and insurance companies Travelers and Coalition to develop a new framework to guide the development of more secure technology products and to audit the security of technology products, according to the administration’s fact sheet and a program launched this year by the Biden administration to improve cybersecurity. 

The Biden administration has grappled with the limits of its authority to answer the rise in cyberattacks, a problem that affects a broad range of businesses the White House cannot directly regulate. 

Officials and experts say the White House lacks the authority to order more stringent measures like the use of two-factor authentication in private networks, even though the US government has rolled out mandatory data breach reporting requirements for certain sectors such as pipelines and is increasingly using its procurement power to shape the cybersecurity practices of federal contractors. As a result, the Biden administration has attempted to persuade private enterprises to take voluntary steps to protect US networks. The latest iteration of that strategy is reflected in Wednesday’s conference. 

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. “So, I’ve invited you all here today because you have the power, the capacity, and the responsibility, I believe, to raise the bar on cybersecurity.” 

Source: CNN Money