US government enlists tech giants in the fight against cybercrime

Amazon, Google, Microsoft, et all join up to create a Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative following high-profile cyberattacks on US infrastructure.
6 August 2021

Tech giants join hands with the US government to fight cybercrimes.(Photo by Drew Angerer / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

  • Amazon, Google & Microsoft have agreed to help US cybersecurity officials fight ransomware and defend cloud computing systems from hackers
  • It aims to improve defense planning and information sharing between government and the private sector

Following a series of high-profile infrastructure attacks, the US federal government has turned to their technology heavyweights to help defend against cybercrime. Tech giants like Amazon, Google and Microsoft will be working hand-in-hand with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency under the initiative called Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative (JCDC).

As first reported by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), director of the agency Jen Easterly said the effort will initially focus on combating ransomware and cyberattacks on cloud-computing providers. Ultimately, she said, it aims to improve defense planning and information sharing between government and the private sector. The JCDC initiative will see the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) work alongside leading technology providers, cybersecurity firms and telecommunications to create and execute new cyber defense operations plans.

WSJ’s report also indicated that the JCDC will initially focus on combating ransomware and other cyberattacks on cloud computing providers to avoid situations like the recent Kaseya supply-chain ransomware attack which occurred earlier this year. In a press release explaining how the JCDC will help the US government as well as businesses deal with the most serious cyber threats to the country, Easterly said, “the JCDC presents an exciting and important opportunity for this agency and our partners – the creation of a unique planning capability to be proactive instead of reactive in our collective approach to dealing with the most serious cyber threats to our nation.”

She also said the industry partners that have agreed to work side-by-side with CISA and its interagency teammates share the same commitment to defending the country’s national critical functions from cyber intrusions, and the imagination to spark new solutions. “With these extraordinarily capable partners, our initial focus will be on efforts to combat ransomware and developing a planning framework to coordinate incidents affecting cloud service providers,” she added.

What would JCDC do for the US government?

Basically, the establishment of JCDC would allow CISA to be able to integrate unique cyber capabilities across multiple federal agencies, state and local governments and private sector businesses to achieve shared objectives. The new initiative will also allow the public and private sector to share insights, implement coordinated defensive cyber operations, and support joint exercises to improve online protection operations in the US.

In addition to the cloud giants of AWS, Microsoft and Google Cloud,  tech companies including AT&T, Crowdstrike, FireEye Mandiant, Lumen, Palo Alto Networks and Verizon will also work alongside the JCDC. On top of that, government partners the Department of Defense (DoD), US Cyber Command, the NSA, the Department of Justice (DoJ), the FBI, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will be involved too.

By working together with technology companies, the US government and CISA are hoping to be able to prevent future supply-chain attacks while improving the country’s cyber defense posture. During the past year, ransomware attacks have disrupted large parts of daily life in the US. They have diverted medical assistance, caused long lines at gas stations in the Southeast, and disrupted the production of meat products and food supply chain.

Following a ransomware attack last month on cloud-services provider Kaseya Ltd., President Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that the US would take “any necessary action” to protect its infrastructure from these incidents. Just days later, the administration blamed hackers affiliated with China’s Ministry of State Security for a separate set of attacks on users of Microsoft Exchange Server software.