Virtually Safe? Think Again

By John S. McClenahen As their e-business grows, manufacturers should review their Internet and Intranet policies and practices to take into account heightened security and liability risks. Particularly, companies that are networked with suppliers and customers "need to go ahead and do a pretty strong security audit," states New York-based Edward M. Roche, vice president for research at the Concours Group, a Kingswood, Tex., e-commerce consulting firm. For example, there should be ways of closing down an Internet account when a supplier's employee leaves for another company. And there should be a "check-in and check-out" procedure for any confidential information, adds Roche. Without identifying the firm, he mentions a company with 65,000 employees on its Intranet and 25,000 partners, subcontractors, dealers, and other outsiders with access to it. "Now you look at me and tell me that's not something that needs to be assessed from a security point of view," he says. What's more, Roche indicates the need for secure systems only promises to grow not only as industrial companies continue to connect with other firms, but also as "intelligence agents and processes" scan manufacturers' systems for information.

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