President Biden is expected to host executives from major technology, financial and energy companies on Wednesday for a summit on national cybersecurity, a gathering that comes amid heightened fears about proliferating disruptive attacks on American businesses and infrastructure.
Top Silicon Valley chief executives, including Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook, Amazon.com Inc.’s Andy Jassy, Microsoft Corp.’s Satya Nadella and Alphabet Inc.’s Sundar Pichai are scheduled to attend the White House meeting, according to a list of participants shared by an administration official. Also expected are JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon and Brian Moynihan, president and CEO of Bank of America Corp., among other representatives of the financial industry.
Wednesday’s summit is the first high-profile meeting Mr. Biden will have as president with the private sector to discuss cybersecurity. Senior White House officials have said for months that the problem is one of shared responsibility between government and industries—particularly those responsible for operating the nation’s critical infrastructure—and have recently suggested the administration could look to pursue mandates if voluntary security standards aren’t widely adopted.
Mr. Biden in the early months of his administration highlighted cybersecurity as a top national security concern in the wake of a devastating Russian espionage operation, discovered in the final months of the Trump administration, that compromised at least 10 federal agencies and 100 U.S. companies.
The issue grew more pronounced as a threat this spring and summer after a spree of high-profile ransomware attacks forced the shutdowns of a major U.S. fuel pipeline, a large meat distributor and a range of small businesses.
While ransomware is expected to be a key focus, it isn’t the sole priority of the gathering, a senior administration official said. The broader conversation also will focus on critical infrastructure security, supply-chain security, cybersecurity workforce training and education, and insurance policies, the official said.
Some private-sector announcements related to “technology and talent” should follow the afternoon meeting, the official said, while declining to provide details. Some companies are expected to announce overall security investments, while others plan to address specific aspects of cybersecurity, another person familiar with the meeting said.
Other planned attendees include representatives from the energy sector, including top executives from ConocoPhillips, PG&E Corp. and Duke Energy Corp., as well as the insurance industry and education field. Cyber insurers have raised prices and limited coverage following high-profile ransomware attacks, fueling concerns that insurance payouts actually encourage the lucrative extort-by-hacking ecosystems, security experts have said.
Biden administration cabinet officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, as well as senior members of the White House national security team, are also expected to participate and lead breakout sessions focused on different cybersecurity topics.
The summit comes as Mr. Biden is overseeing an urgent evacuation of Americans from Afghanistan after 20 years of war. The president has attempted to reorient national security priorities around what his senior advisers have said are the top strategic threats of the coming decades, including cybersecurity, competition with China and Russia’s efforts to destabilize Western stability and alliances.
Last month, the Transportation Security Administration issued cybersecurity requirements for U.S. pipeline operators intended to help guard against ransomware and other forms of disruptive hacking. The requirements were announced months after a Russia-based criminal hacking group forced a major fuel conduit on the East Coast, operated by Colonial Pipeline, to shut down for nearly a week.
In May, Mr. Biden issued an executive order that established baseline cybersecurity requirements for U.S. agencies and their software contractors, including mandates to use multifactor authentication and data encryption. The order also requires federal information technology vendors to disclose certain data about hacks.
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