US government co-opts big tech into cybersecurity initiative

Google, Microsoft, AWS, Apple and IBM have all pledged to collaborate with the US government to improve cyber security.

Scott Bicheno

August 26, 2021

3 Min Read
Man in glasses and laptop. Effect of the glow of the screen

Google, Microsoft, AWS, Apple and IBM have all pledged to collaborate with the US government to improve cyber security.

President Biden has declared a ‘whole-of-nation effort’ is needed to address cybersecurity threats. It follows a number of high-profile cyber attacks over the past year or two, implying the baddies are gaining the ascendancy in the digital domain. While Biden addressed the matter in his flurry of executive orders since coming to power, this move acknowledges the limit of the state to act alone in this context.

So he corralled a bunch of private sector tech leaders to a meeting at the Whitehouse, where they solemnly pledged to redouble their cybersecurity efforts in coordination with the government’s grand plan. “On July 28, the President issued a National Security Memorandum establishing voluntary cybersecurity goals that clearly outline our expectations for owners and operators of critical infrastructure,” says the accompanying fact sheet. “The Administration has also engaged with the private sector on the importance of prioritizing cybersecurity as a central part of their efforts to maintain business continuity.”

Doesn’t sound very ‘voluntary’ to us. “We welcomed the opportunity to participate in President Biden’s White House Cyber Security Meeting today, and appreciated the chance to share our recommendations to advance this important agenda,” wrote Google SVP for Global Affairs, Kent Walker. The meeting comes at a timely moment, as widespread cyberattacks continue to exploit vulnerabilities targeting people, organizations, and governments around the world.

“That’s why today, we are announcing that we will invest $10 billion over the next five years to strengthen cybersecurity, including expanding zero-trust programs, helping secure the software supply chain, and enhancing open-source security. We are also pledging, through the Google Career Certificate program, to train 100,000 Americans in fields like IT Support and Data Analytics, learning in-demand skills including data privacy and security.”

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“A fundamental problem when addressing current cybersecurity threats is education, which is why we’re excited to share our Amazon Security Awareness training for free to help organizations and individuals understand how to navigate and fight against security events,” said Steve Schmidt, Chief Information Security Officer of AWS. “And by giving qualified AWS customers access to free MFA tokens, we’ve made it even easier for companies to use this powerful tool to protect their data and important technology assets.”

Apple will establish a new program to drive continuous security improvements throughout the technology supply chain. IBM is killing two birds with one stone by training 150,000 people in cybersecurity skills over the next three years and partnering with ‘historically black colleges’ to grow a more diverse cyber workforce. Girls Who Code will establish a micro credentialing program for ‘historically excluded groups’ in technology.

This could well be one of those times when it makes sense for there to be a grand coalition between the public and private sectors, but the precedent is worrying nonetheless. The Biden administration has made a conspicuous point of throwing monopolist accusations at big tech since it came to power and now the latter suddenly being all cooperative. This is unlikely to be a coincidence and you have to wonder what further concessions such companies will be willing to make in the name of placating the government.



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About the Author(s)

Scott Bicheno

As the Editorial Director of, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno

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