Cisco security initiative

Thursday, 20 November 2003, 4:40 PM EST

In an unusual alliance among staunch competitors, Cisco Systems will collaborate with three of the largest computer security firms to fight virus and worm attacks.

Cisco, Network Associates, Symantec and Trend Micro will develop a new system for protecting networks against infection. The system, which the four firms hope to start selling early next year, will be able to block network access to any computer or device that doesn't have its own security measures in place.

Hackers' increasing sophistication -- as well as a little competitive pressure -- drove the companies to work together.

In a conference call Tuesday, the chief executives of all four firms said virulent programs like Blaster and Slammer demanded a more coordinated defense, with security programs and hardware working together off a shared set of standards.

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