Commitments are also expected from the public and private sectors for improving the security of foundational technology.
Building a talented cybersecurity workforce and improving the security of foundational technology will be central to a set of concrete steps the government and leading private companies will commit to taking following a meeting at the White House today, according to a senior administration official.
President Joe Biden and members of his national security team and Cabinet will meet with top executives from companies representing crucial critical industry sectors—technology, finance, energy, water and insurance—as well as relevant educational institutions to discuss collective action to improve cybersecurity.
“There will be a set of announcements that will be made tomorrow across the key areas, significantly on technology and talent, made by the participants, both government and private sector,” the official said Tuesday.
The official put the cybersecurity workforce shortfall at 500,000 and highlighted that aspect of the upcoming meeting which will include representatives from Code.org, Girls Who Code, Tougaloo College, University of Texas System and Whatcom Community College.
“We didn't just go to traditional four-year colleges or even traditional or even community colleges, we went to a broader set of entities to really think creatively,” the official said. “To be frank, what makes me so excited about cyber education is the opportunity it offers to Americans of all backgrounds. You know, you can get a certification and you can be tremendously successful in a cyber career and build on certifications and hands-on skills, or you can do a four-year degree, but people have those options so I think that's what's super exciting and we really, you know, worked on that in some of the announcements that are coming out.”
After meeting with the president, the participants will break off into groups with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas chairing an energy and water sector group; Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Small Business Administrator Isabella Guzman leading a group with insurance and tech company executives; and National Cyber Director Chris Inglis meeting with the education leaders.
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger will also participate.
Specific companies will include, among others, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and ADP from tech, financial giants Bank of America and JPMorganChase, American Water, Duke Energy, and Southern Company from the water and energy sectors and Coalition, Resilience and Travelers from the insurance industry.
On the technology piece, the official said the meeting is another step toward identifying reasonable expectations for the private sector and represents a collaborative rather than dictatorial approach while pressing the urgency and importance of the issue.
“We need to transition to where technology is built with security by default, with baked in security by design,” the official said. “You know, we don't buy a car, and then buy the airbag separately. We need to know we're buying secure tech.”