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SBC seeks to improve Internet security

The Baby Bell sets up the Internet Assurance and Security Center in response to the growing threats from viruses, worms and denial-of-service attacks.

    SBC Communications announced Monday that it is forming an Internet security project designed to improve network defenses.

    The project, known as the Internet Assurance and Security Center (IASC), will be designed and managed by SBC Technology Resources, the company's research and development center in Austin, Texas. The Baby Bell said it is launching IASC in response to the growing threats from viruses, worms, denial-of-service attacks and other sources.

    IASC will focus on developing security technologies and standards that can be applied at different levels of large telecommunications networks that handle Internet, voice and data traffic for millions of consumers and businesses. While the majority of current security efforts, such as firewalls, place the primary burden of security on end users, the center's research will support an approach that encompasses all elements of the network. Its focus will include telecom providers, enterprise networks, customer networks, and hardware and software makers.

    IASC also plans to act as a coordinator for existing security research efforts in government, academia and industry.

    The company said that network-based security could bring several significant advances. For example, a network could be designed to detect unusual flows of traffic converging on a particular customer. If the traffic is considered a distributed denial-of-service attack, the network could automatically filter the offending traffic from multiple locations, SBC said.

    A growing number of software makers, beset by complaints about the security of their products, have turned their focus to improving the security of their products and services. For example, Microsoft earlier this year highlighted the industry's problem when it announced its Trustworthy Computing initiative, which makes security a top priority. Microsoft has long been plagued by glitches and security holes in its software, including the Windows operating system, the Outlook e-mail program and the Internet Explorer browser.

    In May, a group of software makers, including Oracle, Cisco Systems and Microsoft, along with NASA teamed up with Carnegie Mellon University to try to make software more reliable, secure and less defect-prone. Carnegie Mellon launched the Sustainable Computing Consortium, bringing together government agencies, academic researchers, and technology and business companies to try to develop effective practices for creating software and tools to test security and dependability.

    Carnegie Mellon's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) Coordination Center, an organization that provides alerts on security breaches, maintains that Internet security violations more than double each year.