Microsoft, Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services are among the private companies which have signed up to the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative initiated by the US government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (Cisa).

The JCDC partnership is intended to lead development of national cyber defence plans and execute them with local governments and other stakeholders to reduce the risk of an attack and unify defensive actions should an incident occur.

The collaborative will also share insight to shape understanding of challenges and opportunities for cyber defence and support joint exercises to improve cyber security.

The private companies will work side-by-side with Cisa and other government agencies to defend the United States’ critical functions from cyber intrusions, said Cisa director Jen Easterly.

“Our initial focus will be on efforts to combat ransomware and developing a planning framework to coordinate incidents affecting cloud service providers,” she added.

The JCDC represents an opportunity to create a “unique planning capability” to be collectively proactive rather than reactive with the most serious cyber threats to the US, she said.

Cisa named AT&T, CrowdStrike, FireEye Mandiant, Lumen, Palo Alto Networks and Verizon as the other initial industry partners. The intention is for more private and public sector organisation to join the JCDC over time.

A range of cyber-attacks, such as on SolarWinds and Kaseya (on the software-service side) and, operationally, on Colonial Pipeline and JBS meat processors, have wrought havoc to the country’s critical infrastructure in recent months.

Other attacks, such as on the water supply of Oldsmar in Florida, have been thwarted, while medical, care and government services are often subjected to cyber-attacks and hacks.