Government Officials Hail Opening of Banking Industry's Security Lab

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The Banking Industry Technology Secretariat opened its security-testing laboratory Wednesday to a chorus of approval from government officials.

The officials-including past and present members of the Senate and officials of the Treasury and Navy departments-praised the secretariat and banking as a whole for getting ahead of other industries in protecting computer and communications networks from external and hostile threats.

Banking can thus serve as an example to other "critical infrastructure" components such as transportation and electric power, said Richard Clarke of the National Security Council. "Let those other industries know that the threat is real and that there can be a successful coming together of competitors" to address it, said Mr. Clarke, whose title is special assistant to the president.

"The private sector is doing what it ought to be doing in this area," said Gregory Baer, deputy assistant Treasury secretary for financial institution policy.

They spoke at the formal opening of the Financial Services Security Laboratory at the headquarters of Global Integrity Corp., the contractor chosen by the Banking Industry Technology Secretariat.

The group, known as BITS, won support from its parent, the big-bankdominated Financial Services Roundtable, to offer stamps of approval on technologies and systems that meet predefined security standards. Several bankers have signaled that the BITS mark will be a prerequisite for their future technology purchases, and this has, in turn, piqued the interest of vendor companies in submitting to the certification process.

Global Integrity, a subsidiary of Science Applications International Corp., has co-funded the establishment of the lab with BITS to the tune of multiple millions of dollars. Further income is now expected to come from vendor fees, and evaluations are to begin later this summer.

BITS chief executive officer Catherine Allen said Hewlett-Packard Co., International Business Machines Corp., Microsoft Corp., and Sun Microsystems Inc. have supported the lab effort. In a further indication of supplier interest, Gus Blanchard, chairman of Deluxe Corp., attended the opening, as did people from such companies as Computer Associates International, Computer Sciences Corp. …