By a Biometrica staffer
President Joe Biden met with chief executive officers (CEOs) from several companies including Apple, Google, and JP Morgan Chase at the White House on Wednesday, Aug. 25, and urged them to play their part in stepping up cybersecurity measures.
“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 was quoted as saying by the Washington Post. “You have the power, capacity and responsibility, I believe, to raise the bar on cybersecurity. Ultimately we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
The summit was held, in part, to stress the challenges posed by cybersecurity threats in the context of national and economic security. The government announced that it would be working with the private sector to assess the security of existing software and to enable companies to build more secure technology in future.
“Summits like this are messaging opportunities more than policymaking opportunities,” said Emily Harding, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The summit is believed to be a stepping stone towards passing more effective legislation to deal with cybersecurity.
“We are in a cyberwar,” Hadi Partovi, CEO of Code.org, an education nonprofit, said. “Nobody’s declared war, but attacks are happening everyday. I felt optimistic that the set of folks who came together have a commitment to work together, whether it’s with government or their competitors.”
The summit comes on the back of major cybersecurity breaches that have affected the private sector and government agencies in the recent past. In a 2014 breach, JP Morgan revealed that more than 76 million households and 7 million small businesses were affected by an attack of its computer systems.
A recent Washington Post investigation also found that Apple’s iPhone technology was vulnerable to attacks by spyware from Israel’s NSO Group. Even more recently, T-Mobile was the victim of a data breach that left the personal information of 40 million people exposed.
At the summit, Microsoft committed to investing $20 billion over a five-year period to strengthen cybersecurity measures and Google announced it would be investing $10 billion over the same time frame towards the same cause, the Associated Press reported.
Just last month, we reported on how experts and lawmakers across the country were sounding the alarm over what seems to be a cyber free-for-all on American businesses, infrastructure systems, healthcare systems and industries. President Joe Biden brought the subject up with the Russian government, and various intelligence agencies have issued advisories on how to prepare for, prevent, and deal with cyberattacks. In July, the White House ramped up pressure on critical infrastructure companies to improve resilience against cyberattacks.
Earlier this month, Congress passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill that also included measures regulating the cryptocurrency industry. The bill was approved 69 to 30 in the Senate and is now pending before the House. Although a broad infrastructure bill, it included measures that impact cybersecurity.
The bill requires individuals and companies handling cryptocurrency to report gross proceeds to the Internal Revenue Service along with names and addresses of all those involved in transactions. This will enable the capture of billions of dollars of revenue from cryptocurrencies that are currently believed to be outside the tax net.
However, experts have warned that an unintentional consequence of more regulation of cryptocurrency could force illegal operators into markets where the U.S. has no jurisdiction or reach, thereby serving to exacerbate the threat to individuals, companies, and agencies.