White House Cybersecurity Conference: U.S. technology company executives worried about data privacy

The White House gathered leading U.S. technology company executives this week to discuss cybersecurity, after a series of high-profile hacking incidents earlier this year, according to Reuters.

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The guest list included Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and IBM Chief Executive Arvind Krishna.

The topics for discussion included ransomware, critical infrastructure, supply chain security, cybersecurity education, and data breach insurance policies, a source added.

Executives for Southern and JP Morgan also attended.

Leading cybersecurity officials from the Biden administration, including recently confirmed National Cybersecurity Director Chris Inglis, as well as Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, led discussions with industry representatives.

The gathering on Wednesday was unique, due to its inclusion of the insurance industry. Alan Schnitzer, CEO of Travelers Companies attended.

Insurance companies play a key role in covering damages caused by data breaches, therefore, influencing their cybersecurity policies could significantly improve cyber defense systems in the private sector, experts stressed.

“The growing use of cyber insurance over the last ten years has been an unfortunate encouragement to ransomware gangs. It has encouraged more attacks, as insured victims are often quite willing to rapidly pull the trigger on ransom payments, knowing they will be reimbursed,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, Chairman of the Silverado Policy Accelerator, as quoted by Reuters.

Ransomware locks an infected computer system, normally disrupting services to workers or customers until extortion money is paid to the hackers.

The White House event was held, as Congress decides on new legislation covering data breach notification laws and cybersecurity insurance industry regulations, which are generally considered the two most consequential policy areas within the field.