New security institute unveils skills plans

An industry-backed institute for IT security professionals plans to offer members mentoring programmes, a professional journal and a skills assessment programme when it launches formally next year.

An industry-backed institute for IT security professionals plans to offer members mentoring programmes, a professional journal and a skills assessment programme when it launches formally next year.

The Institute for Information Security Professionals, which has been developed by IT security professionals from leading firms and the public sector, aims to raise professional standards in security.

The institute, which expects to take on its first members in January, has won backing from some of the UK’s largest companies, including BP, BT, the Royal Bank of Scotland and the DTI.

It aims to raise standards for IT security professionals by defining a minimum body of knowledge, accrediting qualifications, and asking members to sign up to a code of ethics.

A mentoring programme to help security professionals develop their skills will be tested over the coming months at BP and other large firms before being made available more widely next year.

Proposals for the new body won unanimous backing last week from more than 90 security professionals who attended a planning event at Royal Holloway and Bedford College, which is helping to co-ordinate work on the new institute.

“We are encouraging people now to get involved in a more formal way – to get involved in the working groups, to refine the common body of knowledge, to look at skills and to get the journal under way,” said Barrie Wyatt, co-ordinator.

The institute's research suggests that IT professionals will be prepared to pay between £100 and £150 a year to join. An institute-defined common body of knowledge won backing from 75% of IT security professionals.

The institute is in discussions with a range of existing professional bodies, including the BCS, the Institute of Electrical Engineers, and the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, which are interested in becoming partners with the new organisation.

Any partner could provide administration and membership services to the new body, but would not take over its running, said Wyatt.

“Whoever we partner with, we want to make sure the professional body is administered by security professionals. We are setting up a limited company so that it's independent of who we are partnering,” he said.

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