FIRST conference launches to record numbers

The 19th annual FIRST conference got under way today [Wednesday, June 20] in Seville, Spain, with a record 467 delegates from 49 countries – a 34 per cent increase on last year.

The worldwide Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams leads the world's fight-back against cyber-crime, sabotage and terrorism, and consists of the Internet emergency response teams from 180 corporations, government bodies, universities and other institutions across the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

FIRST chair Mike Caudill praised the “outstanding turnout” in his speech welcoming delegates: “this shows we are getting the message of security across to more and more countries as we try to make the Internet a safer place,” he said.

In his keynote opening address Lord Toby Harris, the UK Home Secretary’s appointee on the Metropolitan [London] Police Authority, called for governments and businesses to put more “muscle” into security and the protection of critical infrastructures and personal data.

Pointing out that 81 per cent of USA personal computer users lacked up-to-date anti-virus software, he said that security could not safely be left up to individuals.

Other key speakers during the conference, which runs until Friday [June 22], include Francisco Garcia Morán, Director General of DG Informatics for the European Commission; BT’s futurologist Graham Whitehead; George Stathakopoulos, general manager of product security for Microsoft; and Peter G. Allor, of IBM Internet Security Systems.

This year’s conference theme is “privacy” which joint organiser Ian Cook described as “the hottest topic in our business,” adding: “We know that so much damage has been done by accidental losses and leaks or deliberate thefts, with millions of innocent people exposed to fraud and identity theft, that governments all over the western world are planning new laws to regulate public and private bodies and force them to go public when their data bases are lost, leaked or violated.

“The consequences of that, in reputation terms alone, for those ‘named and shamed’ will be catastrophic.”

The FIRST conference is presenting sessions designed to help delegates understand how privacy breaches most commonly occur, how they can be prevented, what organisations should do if the worst does happen, and how damage to reputation and credibility – with its consequent onslaught on corporate value – can be limited when privacy is invaded.