New Oracle centre to tackle security and defence

Oracle is building an Information Assurance Centre at its offices and has hired a veteran CIA officer to lead it.

Oracle is building an Information Assurance Centre at its offices and has hired a veteran CIA officer to lead it.

The company hopes the centre will eventually become a security research and development lab for the IT industry as a whole.

Oracle plans to complete construction of the centre's premises by the end of this year. The company is currently in discussions with government agencies, universities and major systems integrators to establish a co-operative research and development relationship that Oracle customers can tap into for assistance with enterprise security.

The centre will provide expert advice on incident prevention, detection and crisis management, and a test bed for new approaches to security, business continuity and disaster recovery, Oracle said.

The plan is to eventually extend the reach of the centre beyond Oracle's customer base and make it a security research laboratory that will "advance the state of the art in information security", according to Tim Hoechst, senior vice-president of technology at Oracle Service Industries.

"My hope is that this becomes more of an industry security centre rather than an Oracle technology centre and that it expands to all aspects of security from physical security to database security, and everything in between," said Hoechst.

Oracle has hired David Carey, a 34-year veteran of the CIA and the agency's former executive director, to head the new centre. Carey is credited with playing a major role in revitalising the agency's clandestine and analysis capabilities. He also expanded the chief information officer's role at the CIA from simply a technology manager to the agency's IT service provider.

The announcement of Oracle's new centre came on the heels of IBM's formation of IBM Global Security Services. Analysts view both moves as a push by vendors following the 11 September terrorist attacks to take advantage of the burgeoning government security market.

It is a trend moving in the right direction, said James Governor, an analyst at Illuminata. "This kind of cross-organisation coordination will become increasingly important. A distributed world requires distributed approaches to security," he said.

Oracle's chief executive officer, Larry Ellison, has been touting his company's security expertise. Only weeks after he pledged to give the government free software for a US national identification card, Ellison challenged the hacker community during the recent Comdex conference in Las Vegas to break into the Oracle9i database, which, he said, was "unbreakable." Ellison also pointed out that Oracle had received 14 security certifications from the US government.

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