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White House turns to big tech CEOs to boost cyber security

The bosses of Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Google and Amazon are set to make public commitments for stronger IT security

The White House will host CEOs from the world's biggest tech firms on Wednesday to discuss cyber security in the wake of a number of high-profile attacks across the US. 

The guestlist includes Microsoft's Satya Nadella, Apple's Tim Cook, Google's Sundar Pichai, IBM boss Arvind Krishna and the new CEO of Amazon, Andy Jassy, according to Reuters sources. 

The meeting coincides with new legislation being considered by Congress regarding breach notifications and cyber security insurance regulation. It also follows a year of high profile attacks on US institutions with ransomware, which is reportedly one of the main topics to be discussed at the White House.

Other issues to be tackled will include, critical infrastructure, supply chain security, cyber education and data breach insurance policies, according to Reuters sources. 

The participating tech CEOs are expected to make public commitments towards better IT security measures and additional workforce training, the sources suggest, with top cyber officials from the Biden administration to lead separate conversations with industry representatives.

Ransomware is top of the list of discussions presumably because it has become such a constant problem of the US government. According to a recent report from security specialists Unit 42, average ransomware payouts have almost doubled in a year, increasing 82% since 2020 to a record $570,000 in the first half of 2021. The increase followed the previous year's 171% jump to more than $312,000.

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In July, the US Department of Justice also elevated ransomware investigations to a status similar to terrorism, suggesting that active cases should be centrally coordinated by a new task force based in Washington.

The announcement followed the Colonial Pipeline hack which saw some 5,500 miles of pipeline between Texas and New York suspended after an attack from the DarkSide group. 

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