The chief executives of Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, IBM and Microsoft traveled to the White House on Wednesday to promise President Joe Biden they'd help protect the U.S. from cyber threats through an array of financial and technical contributions.
"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," President Biden said at the start of the meeting.
Cybersecurity incidents affecting consumers, companies, critical infrastructure and the government itself have always happened, but have become more frequent and more brazen in recent years. Last year's SolarWinds attack exposed government agencies, while ransomware targeting the Colonial Pipeline actually saw the company shutting down its systems for a time this spring.
Biden issued an executive order in response, trying to get the government to update its own systems, respond more effectively to incidents, shore up supply chains and push firms that contract with the feds to strengthen their cybersecurity posture. But there's only so much the White House can do on its own, especially with reforms bogged down in Congress.
That's where Google's Sundar Pichai, Amazon's Andy Jassy, Apple's Tim Cook, IBM's Arvind Krishna and Microsoft's Satya Nadella came in. They met with representatives from financial services, energy, insurance and education during the afternoon, as well as members of Biden's Cabinet, ahead of unveiling corporate commitments.
Here's what they promised:
- Microsoft: $20 billion over the next five years to integrate cybersecurity into its products and services — a fourfold increase from the annual $1 billion it pledged several years ago. It will also commit $150 million to help governments at all levels upgrade their protections.
- Google: $100 million for outside foundations that work to fix security vulnerabilities and a promise to help 100,000 people in the U.S. earn Google certificates in "in-demand skills including data privacy and security."
- IBM: Training 150,000 people in cybersecurity skills over the next three years as well as other commitments, such as continuing its research into how to preserve encryption that may become threatened by quantum computing.
- Amazon: Making its "digestible and succinct curriculum" for employees on cybersecurity free "to both organizations and individuals," and offering a multifactor authentication device on the house to "qualified AWS account holders."
- Apple: Working with suppliers "to drive the mass adoption of multi-factor authentication, security training, vulnerability remediation, event logging, and incident response," according to the White House.
This story was updated to include Apple's commitments.