Disclosure plan won't help

Tuesday, 21 October 2003, 1:50 PM EST

In an effort to shore up the security of the nation's critical infrastructures, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security recently proposed that all publicly-traded companies disclose in their filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission precisely what they are doing to protect the security, confidentiality, integrity and availability of their electronic information and databases.

Harkening back to the end of the last millennium, Tom Ridge suggested in a speech before the Business Software Alliance that cyber security problems were similar to the problems presented to publicly traded companies before Y2K. Ridge suggested that, "... we need to talk about some kind of public disclosure. What are you doing about your security, physical and cyber security? Tell your shareholders, tell your employees, tell the communities within which you operate."

It's a worthy idea to ponder, but two underlying questions remain unanswered: are investors really going to make investment decisions based upon such disclosures, and wouldn't any meaningful disclosures provide hackers and criminals with a roadmap to vulnerabilities?

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