Amazon, Google, others to help US fight ransomware, cyber threats

After multiple cyber threats in recent months, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency announced the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative — a new agency effort to develop cyber defense operation plans to drive down the risk of attacks in the United States.

According to a press release issued Thursday, the new agency will integrate cyber capabilities across multiple federal agencies, many state and local governments, and private sector entities to achieve shared objectives. This will include designing and implementing defensive cyber operations to prevent and reduce the impacts of cyber intrusions.

Several tech giants will help the U.S. in the fight, including Amazon, AT&T, Microsoft and Verizon. 

"The JCDC presents an exciting and important opportunity for this agency and our partners – the creation of a unique planning capability to be proactive vice reactive in our collective approach to dealing with the most serious cyber threats to our nation," said CISA Director Jen Easterly. "The industry partners that have agreed to work side-by-side with CISA and our interagency teammates share the same commitment to defending our 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."

This announcement comes after a wave of cyber incidents within the last year that has impacted the country’s critical infrastructure community. 

Victims have included state and local governments, hospitals and medical researchers and businesses large and small, leaving some victims unable to perform even routine operations.

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Last week, President Joe Biden mentioned Russia and China as growing threats to American national security and noted the growing wave of cyberattacks, including ransomware attacks, against government agencies and private industry that U.S. officials have linked to agents in both countries.

"I think it's more likely ... if we end up in a war, a real shooting war with a major power, it's going to be as a consequence of a cyber breach of great consequence," Biden said to analysts and national security leaders at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

In May, U.S. pipeline operators announced they would require for the first time to conduct a cybersecurity assessment under a Biden administration directive in response to the ransomware hack that disrupted gas supplies in several states.

RELATED: US pipeline operators ordered to increase cyber defenses after ransomware attack

The Transportation Security Administration directive mandated that the owners and operators of the nation's pipelines report any cyber incidents to the federal government and have a cybersecurity coordinator available at all times to work with authorities in the event of an attack like the one that shut down Colonial Pipeline.

"The evolution of ransomware attacks in the last 12-18 months has gotten to a point that it poses a national security risk and that we are concerned about the impact on national critical functions," one of the officials at the Department of Homeland Security said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to the Associated Press. 

This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed.