Twelve major Internet security vendors launched the Cyber Security Industry Alliance (CSIA) Wednesday at the RSA Conference in San Francisco.

The nonprofit group will work to improve cybersecurity through public policy initiatives, public-sector partnerships, academic programs, and development of industry standards.

Founding members includes Check Point Software Technologies, Internet Security Systems, NetScreen Technologies, Computer Associates, Network Associates, Symantec, BindView, RSA Security, Secure Computing Corp., Entrust, and PGP Corp.

Its new director was named as Paul Kurtz, who until recently served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Critical Infrastructure Protection on the White House's Homeland Security Council (HSC).

Kurtz said a unified voice was now needed to "assist consumers, enterprises and governments to meet the security challenges of today's digital world."

Pete Privateer, ISS vice president of security solutions, said in an interview that the group hopes to influence cybersecurity legislation.

"Our hope is by lobbying and speaking with one voice we can have greater influence," he said.

On the standards front, the alliance will look at areas such as naming systems for internet threats and security alerts, Privateer said. For example, right now there is no standard system for naming internet worms.

"We think the market at large will benefit from increased standardization," he said, adding that the group is developing a priority list.

The formation of the group has come after US Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge challenged the industry to help the government in securing the nation's critical infrastructure. He pointed out that 85 per cent of it was in private hands. This meant many issues of homeland security were in their hands.

 

Additional reporting by Rene Millman