SIM effort seeks to guard IT systems from attack

The largest professional association of IT leaders wants to make sure its members are ready to act in the event of another terrorist attack like the one that destroyed all the business offices at the World Trade Center.

The Society for Information Management (SIM) has created a task force that will help IT managers ensure the stability of their organizations' information infrastructure.

SIM announced the formation of its Information Civil Defense Task force (ICDTF) two weeks after the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. At its annual Interchange conference here this week, SIM officials asked for input on the effort and called on some of the estimated 300 members in attendance to help out.

About 70 members have volunteered for the effort, according to David Luce, CIO at New York-based commercial real estate developer Rockefeller Group International and a member of SIM's national executive board. At the end of a breakfast discussion yesterday on the task force and its efforts, a few more attendees expressed interest.

Luce said the task force will divide its work into a handful of committees, including one that will work with the federal government. Luce said former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, who now heads the new federal Office of Homeland Security, is interested in SIM's efforts.

June Drewry, immediate past president of SIM, in a statement announcing the initiative, said remote collaboration should be high on the task force's priority list. "We need to determine what organization, what procedures, what technologies need to be in place to allow workers to perform their jobs remotely as if they were only one office away."

Luce said the task force is the brainchild of Ed Cannon, CIO at Grey Global Group Inc., a New York advertising agency. Cannon, like Luce, is a member of SIM's New York chapter, and also serves as chairman of the task force.

"The terrorists' actions have reminded us all that we do indeed live in a new world," Cannon said. "They attacked the images of our society with the hope of deflating our morale and commitment.

"The next step is to protect our information highways and warehouses from attack. As chief information officers, we take the responsibility to protect and maintain the information assets we manage, and commit ourselves to help those in need with the assistance and support required to get them up and running again," he said.

SIM said that IT research analyst Gartner Inc. will serve as a research partner to the task force. Gartner has already submitted a handful of white papers related to disaster recovery that have been posted on SIM's Web site.

"CIOs have a long history of helping one another during SIM's 30 years of existence,'' added SIM President Ray Hoving. "In the past we have shared information on best practices for our individual companies. Going forward, we will share information on how to collectively keep the information infrastructure running to ensure the stability of our economic system."

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