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Security concerns spawn new IBM strategy

Big Blue creates its Global Security Solutions office to meet growing demand for security services ranging from disaster recovery to data protection.

IBM launched a new initiative Monday to unify its security services.

The company's new Global Security Solutions office will combine myriad security services offered through IBM Global Services with new products and services, IBM said in a statement.

The company attributed the change to increased security awareness after the Sept. 11 attacks. The new office will meet growing demand for security services ranging from disaster recovery to data protection using technology such as biometrics.

"In the new climate, customers have changed the way they look at security," said Rusine Mitchell-Sinclair, IBM's general manager of Safety and Security. As a result, "We're linking together various capabilities."

Though most of the security services and products will be data-related, the office will also offer consulting services aimed at helping companies evaluate their entire security plan. And if a company needs a security guard or two, IBM will make such recommendations in the course of developing new procedures.

But, "We're not going to have pistol-toting folks around here," Mitchell-Sinclair said.

IBM will work with several partners to provide the new services, including security and crisis-management specialist Kroll.

Analysts say the new offerings from IBM reflect the new realities brought on by the Sept. 11 attacks, and they credited IBM and other companies for not pushing the issue sooner.

"IBM is not along in trying to address customers' concerns in the wake of the Sept. 11 tragedies," said John Madden, analyst with Summit Strategies. "For some customers (security) is certainly an item that's gotten closer to the top of the list in what needs to be funded in the coming years."

IBM's new security department "provides a nice opportunity to open up to other discussions," Madden said.

Global Security Solutions includes more than 3,000 security specialists from IBM Global Services and already serves hundreds of customers in various industries, IBM said.

The office will announce new partnerships in biometrics--the use of fingerprints and other physical characteristics to secure data and property--in the near future, the company said.