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Top tech, energy, banking CEOs meet with Biden at the White House

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Yahoo Finance’s Daniel Howley breaks down the White House cybersecurity summit.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Tech editor Dan Howley now to break down this cyber security summit. And, Dan, if you're there. I know that you spoke earlier with the National Deputy of Cybersecurity Anne Neuberger on "Yahoo Finance Live." And she was able to talk to you about what she hopes this summit will bring about, the change it will bring about, but she also talked about whether or not the government has the right to mandate that the private sector take certain steps to prevent these hacks which could have real consequences for our critical infrastructure. Talk to us a little bit about what she told you.

DAN HOWLEY: That's right, Alexis. She essentially said that there's no way that the government can mandate certain private sector entities from having robust cybersecurity capabilities. And really, the way she said that the government can do that is incentivizing them-- perhaps that certain industries can't get insurance payouts if they're hacked and they don't have the correct kind of cybersecurity protections in place.

And that's kind of the discussion that will be going on-- basically the way the administration has described it as a whole of government approach to cybersecurity. And really, this all follows the litany of attacks that we've seen against the government and private entities as well. You know, we saw the Colonial Pipeline hack. That, obviously, spurred some change from executive orders from the Biden administration-- TSA requiring that they be alerted when critical pipelines have some kind of hack or attempted hack.

They also made sure that they have to provide the right kind of cybersecurity protections for those particular pipelines. But really, the vast majority of industry is in critical infrastructure, but it still does have a lot of information that can be stolen or siphoned away by ransomware attacks or by nation-states. We saw, obviously, SolarWinds, that attack in December 2020-- that was perpetrated by Russian hackers and were able to penetrate government entities, including the Department of Treasury as well as the DOD and Pentagon.

And so really what they're trying to do is come up with a way to ensure the private sector, as well as the public sector and important private-public partnerships, are able to be protected. And how exactly that's going to come about really is unknown. You know, a lot of companies don't really invest enough into cybersecurity.

If you look at what happened to Colonial Pipeline, that was just an issue with a password that wasn't installed. It wasn't using two-factor authentication on an old VPN, and the ransomware attackers were able to get in that way. So it's these simple things that aren't in place that really, I think, will be an issue.

And really something that they can talk to Apple, and Microsoft, and Amazon as much as they want until they're blue in the face, but really, there needs to be some kind of comprehensive approach. And as Anne Neuberger said, there really isn't a way for the government to mandate that at a national level.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right, thanks so much for bringing that to us. And we're going to be monitoring the news that comes out of that summit as well. Dan Howley, thank you.