East Room

2:11 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you all for being here to discuss the core national security challenge we’re facing, the American people are facing, and — and our economy is facing with cybersecurity. 

We’ve seen time and again how the technologies we rely on — from our cell phones to pipelines, to the electric grid — can become targets of ha- — hackers and criminals. 

At the same time, our skilled cybersecurity workforce has not grown fast enough to keep pace.  We’re about — the estimates many of you have given us and we’ve concluded are — on our own — about a half a million cybersecurity jobs remain unfilled. 

That’s a challenge, but it also is a real opportunity.  And I’ve made it — this a priority for my administration from the outset. 

And in May, I issued an executive order to modernize our defenses and improve our federal government’s cybersecurity.  Because of that order, government will only buy tech products that meet certain cybersecurity standards, which will have a ripple effect across the software industry, in our view, ultimately improving security for all Americans.

We’ve launched a 100-day initiative to improve cybersecurity across the electric sector.  That initiative has already resulted in more than 150 utilities that serve 90 million Americans being deployed.  And we’re committing to deploy cybersecurity technologies that are — that are extending that initiative as — to gas pipelines as well, next.  That’s where we’re going.

And because cybersecurity is a global issue, we’ve also rallied G7 countries to hold nations who harbor ransomware criminals accountable. 

And, I might add, I had a — a summit with Vladimir Putin and made it clear to him that we expected him to hold them accountable as well, because they know where they are and who they are.  But that’s another issue we will not be discussing so much today. 

We updated NATO cyber policy for the first time in seven years.  And today, my team is hosting a meeting, bringing together 30 of the nations — 30 nations to step up in their fight against ransomware. 

But the reality is, most of our critical infrastructure owned and operated — is owned and operated by the private sector, and the federal government can’t meet this challenge alone.

So I’ve invited you all here today because you have the power, the capacity, and the responsibility, I believe, to raise the bar on cybersecurity. 

And so, ultimately, we got a lot of work to do.   And thank you all very much.  And thank the press for being here.  We’re going to go private now.

Q    Mr. President, if Americans are still in Afghanistan after the deadline, what will you do?  Sir, what will you do if Americans are still there after the deadline?  No?  Okay.

THE PRESIDENT:  You’ll be the first person I’ll call.

Q    Please call them. 

2:14 P.M. EDT

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