IBM to spend $1.5 billion to improve computer security

Company says recent acquisitions in security market driving new services and products

IBM will spend US$1.5 billion developing computer security products in 2008, a sum that could double the company's previous spending.

$1.5 billion "is much more than we've ever spent," Val Rahmani, a general manager in IBM's services unit who is responsible for security programs, told The Wall Street Journal. The company would not say exactly how much it previously spent on data security, but analyst Charles King of Pund-IT Research said $1.5 billion could double IBM's typical spending on security research and product development, according to the Associated Press.

IBM issued a press release saying IT security is becoming more difficult because of collaborative business models, sophisticated criminal attacks and increasingly complex infrastructures. "For many enterprises, security is broken," Tom Noonan, general manager of IBM Internet Security Systems (ISS), said in a press release.

The company said its initiative is fueled by recent security business acquisitions that are letting IBM roll out new services and products, including technology that analyzes data packets as they move across the network, detecting the transmission of confidential information; user compliance management software that performs continuous audits to detect violations that may affect availability of revenue-generating applications; and management software for Web application security and compliance

IBM ISS is partnering with data security vendors including Application Security to offer monitoring and reporting that protects companies from insider abuse, services that help clients encrypt and manage data on laptops and PCs and prevent intentional and inadvertent leakage of critical data.

IBM is strengthening the mainframe as well. Updates to the IBM Mainframe z/OS operating system are helping to restrict unauthorized access to such sensitive information as credit card numbers. The company also says it is developing products and services to help businesses comply with the US Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.

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