Government pushes for tougher IT security

A new set of guidelines aim to make businesses better defended against risks such as hackers and computer viruses

E-commerce minister Stephen Timms on Thursday launched tough new security guidelines, which the government claims could make businesses much more secure against computer viruses and malicious hackers.

The OECD guidelines on information and network security, which update an earlier set released in 1992, try to raise awareness of the importance of security in IT within the business community. They attempt to put security at the heart of information system management, and enforce the point that networks can only be secure if every user takes security seriously.

"The idea of security being someone else's problem has now had its day," said Timms. "If you are connected, you are responsible for conducting yourself in a way which ensures you do not damage the interests of others. This will require companies to give the security of their network and systems serious thought in the years ahead."

Timms was speaking in London at the First International Security Users Conference, "7799 Goes Global" -- an event which also marked the publication of a revised version of the BS7799 security standard.

The OECD guidelines were drawn up by 30 governments, and Timms believes that -- if implemented by British firms -- they will help to create a culture of security in Britain and boost the growth of e-commerce. "The development of e-commerce, one of the keys to the future of our economy, has without question been held back by doubts about security," Timms said.

There is concern within the government about the level of IT security in Britain. One recent DTI survey found that over one third of corporate Web sites haven't installed a firewall, and nearly a fifth of firms have no antivirus protection.


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