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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

After assembling a team of tough-minded regulators to take on big technology companies, the Biden administration on Wednesday called on many of those same companies to work with the federal government to address a growing wave of cyberattacks.

Driving the news: A White House summit between President Biden and tech leaders Wednesday, including the CEOs of Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and IBM, concluded with a raft of announcements of new cybersecurity projects and spending plans.

  • Microsoft said it would spend an additional $20 billion over five years on "security by design" and offer $150 million in technical services to federal, state and local governments.
  • Google plans to spend $10 billion over five years on zero-trust programs and other measures to bolster software supply chains and open-source security.
  • Amazon said it would offer the public free access to the same "security awareness training" it provides its employees.
  • IBM said it would train 150,000 people in cybersecurity skills over three years and partner with 20 historically Black colleges and universities to create cybersecurity leadership centers.
  • Apple said it was starting a new program to enhance supply chain security.

Why it matters: Defending the U.S. against cyberattacks and cybercrime is too big a problem for either government or industry to solve on their own.

Yes, but: It's an awkward moment for the White House to be trying to partner with tech companies that the executive branch is also pursuing with antitrust lawsuits and investigations.

Of note: Facebook was the one tech giant without a seat at the White House table Wednesday.

  • The company is fresh off a confrontation with the Biden administration over the spread of COVID-19 misinformation on its platform.
  • But Facebook is also the primary online touchpoint for tens of millions of Americans in their personal lives, and any broad cybersecurity project might benefit from the company's participation.

Between the lines: Some observers saw the White House meeting as a signal from Washington to the industry that it needed to take strong voluntary action or face a new wave of regulatory or legislative mandates.

  • Many in industry believe that baked-in government rules could hamstring companies trying to adapt to a rapidly changing cybersecurity environment.
  • But others view some additional regulation as inevitable.
  • IBM CEO Arvind Krishna told Axios Today he supports new cybersecurity disclosure requirements for private companies. "Disclosures will go a long way because once it's transparent, everyone will improve," he said.

Our thought bubble: This needn't be an either/or scenario. Rules can help set minimum security standards, while direct action against cyberattacks will likely need both the industry's technical prowess and the government's international reach and offensive capabilities.

The summit also covered ways to protect supply chains and critical infrastructure, cyber insurance for businesses, and a pressing shortage of workers in the sector, where "nearly half a million public and private cybersecurity jobs remain unfilled," according to a White House statement.

The bottom line: The most successful cyber defense plans are the ones you don't hear much about, because the attacks and disasters they foil never become news. That's why it will take a while before we know whether this week's announcements have any impact — and the less news you see, the more you can assume they're working.

Go deeper

Dec 2, 2021 - Health

Biden administration moves to make insurance cover at-home COVID tests

President Biden speaks at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 1. Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The federal government will issue guidance to allow people with private health insurance to seek reimbursement for the cost of at-home COVID tests, President Biden will announce Thursday.

Why it matters: The move — which comes amid growing concern about the Omicron variant and as part of the administration's larger strategy to mitigate the spread of COVID this winter — will expand access to at-home testing for over 150 million people.

Updated Dec 1, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on America's manufacturing future

On Wednesday, December 1st, Axios markets reporter Courtenay Brown and business reporter Hope King explored how new technologies and sustainability commitments are setting a new standard for domestic industrial manufacturing, featuring Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Siemens USA president and CEO Barbara Humpton.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow explained how government leaders and the manufacturing sector are responding to the current supply chain crisis and reinforced the important role domestic manufacturing plays in fostering economic growth and national security.

  • On the supply chain crisis and chip manufacturing: “We’re seeing a little bit of improvement happening, but we’ve got a long ways to go because when you shut down this type of operation and then work on getting it up and going again, it’s not like turning on a switch...there’s a lot of safety testing and standards that have to be met to make these.”
  • On the importance of domestic manufacturing: “Manufacturing, as it moves and changes in more advanced manufacturing and technology, is a very important part of our economy to be successful and to provide good paying jobs, it’s also part of our national defense and is part of what is important for us in terms of leading the world.”

Barbara Humpton described the issues plaguing supply chains, how companies are adapting to improve production timelines, and how manufacturers are thinking about the transition to renewable energy.

  • On the urgency of the supply chain crisis for global economies: “The supply chain obviously is a critical issue for all of us. From the first disruptions we saw due to COVID to all of the really crazy things that happened in 2021, the supply chain has really risen as the issue right now for our economies all around the world.”
  • On the transition to renewable energy: “I know there are plenty of advocates who would love to see us make an immediate switch to all renewable energy, but let’s face it, we’re going to be in a decade when we need to be transitioning from fossil fuels to other alternatives. While we’re working our way through that transition, we can find lots of greener, more effective, more efficient sources of fuel, more efficient ways to use clean natural gas, for instance, in order to support our industries.”

Axios SVP of Product & Technology Melanie Colton hosted a View from the Top segment with SAFE Commanding Heights executive director Dr. Jeffrey Jeb Nadaner, who discussed how the U.S. can reestablish itself as a leader in manufacturing.

  • “One of the issues we have today is how do we restore that manufacturing base? The good news is that we have the technology, we have the people. It’s a question of having the right policies and the right incentives by the U.S. government to make a favorable business climate for industry to want to build those fabrication plants in the U.S. once again.”

Thank you SAFE for sponsoring this event.

3 hours ago - World

Coast Guard searches for 39 people after boat capsizes off Florida coast

A U.S. Coast Guard ship leaving its base in Miami Beach, Florida, in July. Photo: AP/Marta Lavandier

U.S. Coast Guard crews were searching into the night for 39 people whose boat sank off Florida's coast over the weekend after traveling from the Bahamas.

The big picture: A "good Samaritan" contacted the Coast Guard about 8 a.m. Tuesday to say they "rescued a man clinging to a capsized vessel" 45 miles east of Fort Pierce, per a tweet from the agency, which noted it was dealing with "a suspected human smuggling venture."