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US grasps terror nettles at IT meet

October 14, 2004 09:55 IST

The sense of urgency for establishing an information security culture was evident.

The two-day National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom)-Information Technology Association of America seminar, cited everything ranging from the September 11 attacks, increased vigilance due to the newly-introduced Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the US, to outsourcing of information, as reasons for strengthening cyber security.

For India, however, the main concern would be to consolidate its position as the world's back-office. Withoutsourcing emerging as a lucrative area for India, mistrust about information entrusted with the country could prove to be damaging.

Kiran Karnik, President Nasscom, in fact, coined a new term -- Trustworthy Sourcing -- for ensuring information coming into India would be safe and secure. With predominantly American speakers, the threat of terrorism pervaded across various discussions.

In fact, Harris Miller, President, ITAA said, "Information failureĀ  was partly responsible for the September 11 attack. With proper information security software in place, the intensity of the attack could have been lesser."

With greater financial discipline precipitated by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act passed in the US, companies are waking up to the importance of installing security software to ensure that no-one tampers with the financial data by corrupting the computer systems.

"One slip, and it is not the IT department that would have to bear the brunt, but the Chief Executive Officer of the company who would be liable for heavy punishment," Miller added.

Emphasising that the concept of information security had not achieved universal acceptability, companies were still of the belief that this aspect could be dispensed with, Jerry Rao, Chairman, Nasscom said, "Not compromising on quality, customer services, or productivity, comes naturally to the companies, but with information security, the companies become a little lax."

Agreed Rhonda Maclean, senior vice-president and chief information security officer, Bank of America, " A security culture needs to seep into society. Cooperation in the sharing of information about difficulties faced by various organisations, in this respect, is a crucial step in creating awareness. The required software could be developed consequently."

She added any restrictive policy was not a solution for security concerns. Globalisation could not be prevented, but privacy and secrecy of information could be maintained if investment on sound security system was made.
BS Economy Bureau in New Delhi