(OT?) US companies, Commerce Dept meet on tech security

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-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), December 08, 1999


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Wednesday December 8, 4:45 pm Eastern Time

US companies, Commerce Dept meet on tech security

By Bill Rigby

NEW YORK, Dec 8 (Reuters) - U.S. Commerce Secretary William Daley met representatives from major corporations on Wednesday to seek ways to protect America's banks, electrical grids, phone lines and other key services from breakdowns caused by computer hackers or technological glitches.

On hand to kick start the new government-private sector forum were representatives from about 80 companies including Microsoft Corp., (NasdaqNM:MSFT - news) Citigroup, (NYSE:C - news) AT&T Corp. (NYSE:T - news) and Consolidated Edison Inc. (NYSE:ED - news), among others.

They agreed to hold a summit early next year to find ways federal government and businesses could work together to guard against major disruptions from technology breakdowns or security lapses.

The Partnership for Critical Infrastructure Security was created after a 1998 government white paper called for a bridge between federal agencies and companies in technology-reliant sectors such as finance and banking, transport, energy and public emergency services.

Daley said Y2K computer problems were not a prime concern of the forum. He said the government and companies were already in a good position to counter any inconveniences in services that may follow the millennium date change, which some computers may not recognize correctly because of outdated software.

Daley told reporters after the meeting that the federal government alone could not protect privately controlled technology infrastructure systems such as the Internet or utility power grids.

He said there was a close tie between economic and national security which made a public-private partnership crucial. He said the fast expansion of business conducted electronically left the country vulnerable to various threats including hostile computer hackers.

Corporate representatives said they hoped to establish industry standards for security of electronic data, and increase awareness of ``cyber-ethics''.

Kenneth Watson, representing computer networking giant Cisco Systems (NasdaqNM:CSCO - news), said the nascent forum had identified education, workforce development, research and development and the establishment of best practices in technology security as the key areas the forum would look at.

Microsoft representative Howard Schmidt said the forum marked an important shift in which companies would become more proactive in working with government to ensure security standards.

Harris Miller, representing the Information Technology Association of America trade group, said one of the forum's chief aims was to get companies to give information security practices the same priority as physical security.


-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), December 08, 1999.

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