Microsoft and Google pledge $30bn to fight cyber crime over five years

Executives of top tech giants met the US president to discuss ways to strengthen cyber security ecosystem

Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella speaks at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

US tech giants Microsoft and Google have committed to invest $20 billion and $10bn, respectively, to fight cyber crime over the next five years.

The two companies announced pledges after their chief executives met US President Joe Biden on Wednesday and discussed measures to strengthen the country's cyber ecosystem. Top executive of other technology companies such as IBM, Apple and Amazon also attended the meeting.

“Thank you @POTUS for convening a critical conversation on cybersecurity,” Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive, said on Twitter.

“Microsoft will invest $20bn to advance our security solutions over the next five years, $150 million to help US government agencies upgrade protections and expand our cyber security training partnerships."

The Washington-based company has been one of the prime targets for cyber criminals. Recently, thousands of apps and portals that use Microsoft’s Power Apps platform mistakenly leaked about 38 million confidential records and left them exposed for months on the internet.

In March, cyber espionage group Hafnium reportedly exploited Microsoft's widely used email and calendar Exchange server, breaching more than 30,000 commercial and local government entities in the US.

Microsoft said it would also expand its partnerships with community colleges and non-profit groups for cyber security training programmes.

“The meeting [with President Biden] comes at a timely moment, as widespread cyber attacks continue to exploit vulnerabilities targeting people, organisations and governments around the world,” Kent Walker, senior vice president of global affairs at Google, said.

“Governments and businesses are at a watershed moment in addressing cyber security … [cyber attacks] are increasingly endangering valuable data and critical infrastructure."

The Alphabet-owned company said it plans to invest in strengthening cyber security and securing the software supply chain. It also pledged to train 100,000 Americans in the fields of information technology support and data analytics, learning in-demand skills, including data privacy and security.

Cyber crimes globally have risen amid a rise in remote working and a rapid digital uptick due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to IBM.

The average global cost of a data breach rose about 10 per cent a year to $4.2m over the past 12 months, it said. The US continued to top the list, with average costs of $9m, up from $8.6m a year ago, followed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE at $6.9m. Canada ($5.4m), Germany ($4.9m) and Japan ($4.7m) complete the list.

Last week, T-Mobile US said cyber attackers breached its computer networks and stole personal details of more than 40 million past, current and prospective customers.

The information stolen from the company's servers included victims’ names, dates of birth, social security numbers and driving licence details.

In May, cyber criminals targeted the US company Colonial Pipeline, which ships about 2.5 million barrels of oil each day across the country. It had to pay a ransom of about 75 Bitcoin to regain control of its systems. However, US investigators have said they recovered about 63.7 Bitcoin.

Updated: August 27th 2021, 6:11 AM