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Biz Giants Form Fraud Standards Group

American National Standards Institute, Better Business Bureau to fight identity theft and fraud

Some of America's largest and most influential business groups yesterday announced formation of a new group that will develop and promote the implementation of standards for preventing identity theft.

The American National Standards Institute and the Better Business Bureau system said they are enlisting major corporations in a variety of industries to create a single resource of standards and guidelines that companies can use to prevent identity theft and fraud. The initiative, called the Identity Theft Prevention and Identity Management Standards Panel (IDSP), has nine founding members: AT&T, Citi, ChoicePoint, Dell, Intersections, Microsoft, Staples, TransUnion, and Visa USA.

The group has given itself 12-18 months to come up with a comprehensive, cross-sector set of requirements and best practices for managing access, storage, and disposal of customer and employee data. The group will also look at personnel issues, such as how to hire and train employees to handle sensitive data, how to choose data contractors, and how to recapture and restore the integrity of stolen identities.

The group currently is conducting a survey of corporations and other security groups to find out what authentication standards and best practices are out there already, says Jim McCabe, ANSI director of consumer relations and public policy. The group will try to identify standards that could be used more broadly and areas where new standards are needed, he says.

"We're not trying to duplicate what somebody's already done," McCabe says. The group will reach out to other groups that are working on guidelines for protecting user privacy, such as the White House's task force on identity theft and the credit card industry's PCI standards for protecting credit information.

"It's time that a coordinated assessment was made of the standards and other solutions that the marketplace has developed, or needs to develop, to address this problem and to make the results widely available," says Joe Bhatia, president and CEO of ANSI.

The study raises the question of whether enterprises should build stronger policies against surfing the Web over company links. Companies that allow personal browsing have a higher incidence of infection by worms and viruses than those that don't, according to the research. Some companies have established hard-line policies that disallow users from using the Internet for any non-business reason.

But IDC's Andersen doesn't recommend this approach. "Today our work and private lives are so interlinked that it is unrealistic to think in terms of a ban on the use of company Internet connections for private purposes."

After it has done its assessment of currently-available standards and guidelines, the LDSP will convene an identity theft panel to make recommendations on which best practices to use and will issue a "call to action" to corporations and vendors to develop standards where they're still needed, McCabe says.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

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  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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