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On Wednesday, October 13th, Axios chief technology correspondent Ina Fried and tech policy reporter Margaret Harding McGill examined the strategies that governments and data-driven industries are employing to protect against harmful cyberattacks, featuring Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) executive director Brandon Wales and Silverado Policy Accelerator co-founder & chairman Dmitri Alperovitch.

Brandon Wales illustrated the need for more action from the private sector in helping the government mitigate ransomware attacks after they’ve occurred, CISA’s new Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative, and the prevalence of both nation-states and criminal organizations executing more cyber-related attacks.

  • On why companies should prepare for potential cyberattacks earlier: “I think part of changing that calculus is for the industry to better understand that the time to grapple with ransomware is not after you’ve been hit, because after you’ve been hit, you’re in an incredibly difficult and challenging circumstance and you’re often going to go with whatever you think is going to be most expeditious to get your network back up and running quickly.”
  • On what sorts of attacks are becoming more common: “I think that we are absolutely in an environment where we are facing both a concerted effort by nation-states to utilize cyber-related attacks to be prepared for future disruptions of our critical infrastructure, to steal our technology and our government secrets, as well as criminal organizations using cyber to further their nefarious criminal enterprises.”

Dmitri Alperovitch clarified how ransomware attacks have impacted global supply chains, how private sector companies can protect themselves from future attacks, and the talent shortage of cybersecurity professionals in the workforce.

  • On the recent rise in ransomware cyberattacks: “Ransomware has been a problem for a while now, but it certainly seems like the attacks have only accelerated, particularly in the last year or so.”
  • On how to fix the shortage of talent in the cybersecurity industry: “There’s no silver bullet, but we have to invest in our education. That’s key. We need to pump out more cyber security professionals out of our academic institutions.”

Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top segment with Google SVP of Global Affairs Kent Walker, who explained what large tech companies are doing to combat increasing cyberattacks.

  • “We developed new security techniques, we rebuilt our architecture and we adopted a defense in depth approach to security...one example is we take a zero trust approach. We verify anyone accessing our systems, and we use techniques like multi-factor authentication because we knew that going forward, we had to expand the way we're thinking about the whole threat landscape and continually stay evolving and to stay ahead of the attackers.”

Thank you Google for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Biden administration appoints GOP election chief to key security role

Sorted vote-by-mail ballots at the King County elections office in Renton, Wash., on Nov. 3, 2020. Photo: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman was appointed on Tuesday to lead election security for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the agency announced.

Why it matters: Wyman — who is the sole elected Republican state official and currently serving her third term — challenged former President Trump's claims of election fraud.

1 hour ago - World

Iran agrees to resume Vienna nuclear talks in November

Ali Bagheri (R) with Enrique Mora in Tehran on Oct. 14. Photo: Iranian Foreign Ministry handout via Getty

Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator said following a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that Iran would resume negotiations in Vienna before the end of November, with the exact date to be set next week.

Why it matters: The Vienna talks have been frozen since Iran's new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, was elected in June. This is the most direct commitment from Raisi's government to return to the negotiating table.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' billionaires tax explained

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There is now legislative language behind the push to tax American billionaires on unrealized capital gains, as Sen. Ron Wyden last night released his 107-page plan.

Why it matters: This would be a sea change in U.S. tax policy, which has only applied to realized gains (otherwise known as income).