05.24.2004 12:00 PM
Business executives criticize the tech industry

Chief executives from some of the largest U.S. companies are criticizing the technology industry in a lobbying campaign, accusing them of selling software vulnerable to hackers and too difficult for consumers to use safely.

The complaints by the Business Roundtable, a trade group of executives from 150 of America’s largest corporations, reflect exasperation by companies over the expense and hassle of keeping their computer networks safe for consumers. The group cites estimates from the nation’s banks and savings institutions that attacks by viruses and worms cost that industry more than $1 billion a year.

The Business Roundtable's campaign urges technology companies to improve software design, make software products easier to manage, and continue to offer support for products after updated versions are on the market.

A former White House official responsible for cybersecurity, Paul Kurtz, noted the significance of the Business Roundtable, whose members include traditional manufacturers, pressing for better security. Most previous such proposals have involved leading technology firms; the Roundtable’s members include Alcoa, Boeing, Burlington Northern, Coca-Cola, Deere and General Motors.

Technology representatives bristled at the group’s central complaint, noting enormous increases in money spent by software companies to make products more resilient and easier to defend from hackers.

Both groups, however, said they oppose government mandates on security.

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