After a decade of reliance on hard firewalls and third-party standards, British industry is grouping together to push for a redefinition of security standards to suit industry rather than IT manufacturers.
In a presentation to the RSA Security Conference in Amsterdam, members of the Royal Mail, ICI and BT Global Services outlined their position on what defines a secure network and how they want to see it achieved.
"This isn't pushing for a new BS7799 standard or anything," said Paul Simmonds, global information security director at chemical manufacturer ICI.
"We're seeking to ignite a debate where none has existed. It will be a long-term process that may take up to five to seven years, but if you do this properly the return on investment arguments are compelling."
The eventual goal is to shift the security market away from trying to keep networks pure from outside influences with a hardened perimeter, and concentrate on securing data access and enabling more business-to-business secure traffic.
Simmonds explained that standards of interoperability were low for data integrity software.
He described Microsoft's Rights Management Services (RMS) as interesting, but said that an ideal solution would see documents passed over a variety of operating systems and computing environments without sacrificing any degree of confidentiality.
The group's goal is to devise a global standard like TCP/IP that everyone would use.
"I think there's a good chance this could be a goer," said Professor Neil Barratt, technical director at security consultant Information Risk Management.
"When industry started to push for ISO 9001 and the like it was initially pooh-poohed as too difficult. A requirement for kit to be built to a quality standard as well as a security standard is a good idea."
So far the group has five blue-chip companies committed, with many more now showing interest. Cisco has already been contacted and other large IT vendors are on the target list.
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