Biden to convene private sector leaders for cyber-security talks in August

News about the meeting comes amid a surge in costly ransomware attacks. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - President Joe Biden and senior United States officials will meet private sector leaders on Aug 25 to discuss ways to beef up cyber security, a White House spokesman said on Wednesday (July 21), underscoring the need for collective action.

Members of Mr Biden's national security team and officials from across the administration will meet business executives to "discuss how we can work together to collectively improve the nation's cyber security", the spokesman for the White House National Security Council said.

No details were immediately available on which private sector executives would attend.

"Today, more than ever, cyber security is an economic security and national security imperative, and both the federal government and the private sector play a critical role," the spokesman said.

News about the meeting comes amid a surge in costly ransomware attacks and steps by the Biden administration to shore up the defence of critical infrastructure sectors, such as pipelines, against cyber attacks.

The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday required owners and operators of critical pipelines that transport hazardous liquids and natural gas to implement "urgently needed protections against cyber intrusions".

It was the second security directive issued by the department's Transportation Security Administration since May, when a ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline disrupted fuel supplies in the south-eastern United States.

The attack forced the 8,900km-long pipeline to shut much of its network for several days, leaving thousands of gas stations across the US Southeast without fuel. It was the most disruptive cyber attack on record.

Next month's high-level meeting continues a big push by the Biden administration to engage with private companies on how to increase cyber security, including among small businesses.

A pilot programme focused on industrial controls launched in April has seen more than 145 of 255 priority electricity entities adopt cyber security monitoring technologies, and that number is growing, the spokesman said.

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