Companies Lobby for Enhanced Software Security

A group of 150 of the country’s largest companies—including several "Rust Belt" companies—are beginning a lobby effort to put the technology sector on notice that they want better security and support of software products vulnerable to hackers, the Washington Post reported.

The Business Roundtable, a trade group of executives of the 150 companies, is fed up with the expense and hassle of keeping computer networks safe for consumers, the Post reported. The group referred to estimates from banks and savings institutions that put the cost of recovering from attacks by viruses and worms at $1 billion a year for that industry alone.

The Business Roundtable began a campaign yesterday to spur technology companies to improve software design, make software products easier to manage and continue to offer support for products after updated versions are on the market, the Post reported.

"Up until now, the IT suppliers have deflected criticism and redirected criticism to end users," Marian Hopkins, director of the group's security task force, told the Post. "It's time that IT suppliers and manufacturers stepped up to the plate."

However, the group knows that safety begins at home and within their own corporate ranks, more needs to be done to keep company networks safe. The Roundtable membership includes Coca-Cola, Alcoa, Boeing, Burlington Northern, Deere and General Motors.

"These are Rust Belt companies. Now you have traditional industry saying this is important," Paul Kurtz, a former White House official responsible for cybersecurity now head of the Washington-based Cyber Security Industry Alliance, told the Post. He said Internet security "requires good products from suppliers and good maintenance on the part of the users."

The Roundtable members are not alone in their criticism of the software industry. Consumer groups and security experts have made similar claims, the Post reported.

"We would challenge the software industry to create products that are easier to use, where security is a default component of the software," Hopkins said. "It shouldn't require somebody with a technology degree to manage a home computer."

Technology companies take issue with the group's central complaint, noting enormous increases in money spent by software companies to make products more resilient and easier to defend from hackers, the Post reported.

"Cybersecurity is everyone's responsibility, including the vendors, the users, enterprises and government agencies," said Greg Garcia of the Information Technology Association of America, one of the industry's leading trade groups. "No serious commentary will say that the user has no responsibility. We all have responsibilities to lock our doors in our homes and to buckle up when we get in our cars."

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