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IBM Unveils Online Privacy Management Service

NEW YORK -- IBM Corp. on Monday announced its entry into the enterprise privacy management space, rolling out a new service gives clients a simplified way of implementing privacy policies.

In partnership with privately held Watchfire, IBM said the new service would offer page scans of millions of Web pages to identify broken links, typographical errors and any other problem that could hurt a company's brand.

Targeted mostly to the financial services sector, Big Blue executives say the Online Business Management Services offering would also provide notifications and real-time monitoring of compliance with the range of regulatory requirements related to privacy and security.

At a press briefing here, IBM's chief privacy officer Harriet Pearson said the new offering would help large-scale enterprises, particularly banks that operate online, avoid the growing threat of identity theft.

As a customer of Watchfire, Person said IBM has found the service extremely useful to monitor more than 3 million Web pages under management globally. Even if Big Blue put together a staff of 1,000 to manually monitor each Web page, it would not be able to do a thorough job, Pearson explained.

The two companies also released the results of a survey of 242 financial services companies and found that many fell short of complying with the most basic regulatory requirements related to privacy and security.

Pearson explained that more than 65 percent of the largest financial services companies have been collecting consumer data with no security mechanisms in place to protect the information. This, she argued, hurts a company's brand in the area of consumer trust.

Using the Online Business Management software, IBM scanned a maximum of 3,000 links in each site and found that more than half of the 242 financial services firms had at least one occurrence where they collected sensitive personal information on a page that did not link to an online privacy policy.

More worrying, according to the survey, 91 percent of the companies studied supported less than the 128-bit SSL encryption when collecting sensitive data. More than 60 percent of the companies had at least 25 pages with broken links and about 80 percent had more than 100 slowly loading Web pages.

Pearson said the monitoring software would be able to quickly provide comprehensive reports of problems within a Web site to help enterprises run a clean operation. In addition to Web page scanning, the Online Management Service provides assessment scanning to identify and report on online brand risks and cost issues.

An IBM spokesperson told internetnews.com the service was priced between $15,000 and $30,000 for installation and implementation. The assessment reports start at $40,000 and would be available as a managed service for between $10,000 and $15,000 per month.