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Security execs form advisory group

Chief security officers from nine companies and one government agency are set to launch a council to advise the industry on how to better protect information systems.

Ten top security executives plan to announce a new group on Wednesday that is aimed at helping companies protect their information systems better, CNET has learned.

Called the Global Council of CSOs, the group will bring together chief security officers from nine companies and one government agency. The Council will offer advice, publish security recommendations, work with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and help ensure that corporate America is ready to respond to Internet attacks, according to sources who asked not to be named.

The council will initially include the chief security officer from eBay and former top U.S. cybersecurity official Howard Schmidt. In addition, the top security executives from Bank of America, Citigroup, Oracle, MCI, Microsoft, Motorola, Sun Microsystems and Washington Mutual will take a seat on the council, according to a council media advisory. The sole initial government representative will be Will Pelgrin, the director of cybersecurity and critical infrastructure for New York state.

Several of the members of the group were contacted by CNET but refused to comment on the impending announcement.

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In February, the Bush administration signed off on the final version of the United States' strategy for protecting the Internet and securing information systems. The policy statement, called the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, largely backed off from mandating that companies adopt certain measures. Instead, it calls for the government to work with private industry to create an emergency response system to cyberattacks and to reduce the nation's vulnerability to such threats.

The strategy document was devised after an attack by one of the worst Internet pests to hit companies in the United States: the Slammer worm. The small, fast-spreading code managed to infect computers so rapidly that it clogged networks and affected companies in unforeseen ways. Bank of America and Washington Mutual, for example, both had automatic teller machine outages caused by the inability of the cash machines to exchange data with corporate servers.

Security studies have repeatedly found that flaws and attacks continue to hobble business on the Internet.

The Global Council of CSOs hopes to help solve these problems, a source said on condition of anonymity. While dubbed the Global Council, the group will initially only have officers from U.S. companies on board. At a later date, the group plans to add international representatives, the sources said.

The announcement will be made on Wednesday in San Francisco.