President Joe Biden and other White House officials plan to meet with a cadre of business, tech, and education leaders on Wednesday to discuss a pretty pressing issue: How exactly to keep America from getting hacked so much.
After a year of increasingly catastrophic cyberattacks (on everything from our beer and burgers to our oil supply), the White House has said that it wants to put a stop to all this madness. Sounds good! But how?
The President and members of his cabinet and national security team plan to meet with officials from a number of different sectors on Wednesday, in the hopes of starting a conversation around collectively improving the nation’s cybersecurity. The CEOs and leaders of a large number of banks, tech company, educational non-profits, energy and water companies, and insurance agencies will all be involved.
In a press briefing Tuesday, a senior administration official described the meeting as a call to action and said that Wednesday’s event will be an important opportunity to push a more security-focused agenda across different sectors of society.
After the initial meeting with the President on Wednesday, a number of “sessions” will be held in which participants will split off into individual groups to further discuss the issues with White House officials.
One session will look specifically at how to craft new solutions to protect critical infrastructure and will be chaired by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. Leaders from the financial and energy and water sectors will participate, with the CEOs of PG&E, ConocoPhillips, American Water, and others, at the table. The heads of banks, including Jamie Dimon of JPMorganChase and Brian Moynihan of Bank of America, will also be there. This is obviously an important area of cybersecurity, considering the uptick in malicious attacks on critical infrastructure, most notably the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline that took place earlier this year.
Another session will look specifically at workforce development in the cybersecurity industry. The session, which will be led by National Cyber Director Chris Inglis and will include officials from education non-profits like Girls Who Code and Code.org, involves another area of that has seen a lot of talk but not a whole lot of action: Experts claim there is a shortage of cybersecurity “talent” and that the industry needs a boost.
Finally, another session will involve participants from the big tech firms and insurance companies, and will look at creating an “enduring” model of cybersecurity. Here, the heads of a number of insurance firms, including Coalition, Travelers, Resilience, and Vantage Group Holdings, are expected to sit down with the likes of Sundar Pichai from Google, Tim Cook from Apple, Andy Jassy from Amazon, and other titans of tech. The session will be chaired by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
It’s unclear what long-term solutions will be agreed upon over a day of talking but at least all of these execs are in a room together discussing a pretty significant problem facing the U.S. today. Unless we want to live in a ransomware-ridden hell forever, some coordination between industry, government, and other areas of society on this issue is probably a good idea.