Leading Asia-Pacific experts and policy advisers in electronic security have agreed on closer cooperation in combating cyber-terrorism and threats to security of information systems, with special reference to the vulnerabilities in economic information systems.

In the wake of the destruction of the World Trade Centre, experts from 16 economies of the APEC grouping met in the context of the APEC Telecommunications and Information Working Group in Jeju, Korea, this week.

Members agreed to a proposal introduced by the United States for information-sharing on the security of information systems among the economies of the Asia-Pacific. Officials of the member economies will report to Ministers within a rapid time frame. Officials will share information monitoring each economy's actions in response to the United Nations General Assembly resolution on combating criminal misuse of information systems.

Mr Peter Ford (Australia), who is also chair of the OECD Working Party on Information National Security and Privacy, noted the renewed relevance of critical infrastructure protection in the light of the events in the United States. He said that such protection had two elements, both national security and economic protection.

"The main emphasis in APEC is the economic element, but the national security aspect cannot be ignored."

United States representative Mr Joseph Richardson said that the United States is seeking innovative solutions, both nationally and internationally, applying three principles: the need for flexible solutions; private sector leadership; and consistency in approach across economies.

Japan's representatives noted the development of a "Special Action Plan on Countermeasures to Cyber-Terrorism". Elements would include a certification system for national information security management and promotion of IT security technologies.

Korea, who hosted the APEC Telecommunications and Information Working Group meetings, announced establishment of an Information Infrastructure Authority under the Information Infrastructure Protection Act 2001.

APEC is the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation framework under which government and industry respresentatives of the 21 member economies meet in specialised Working Groups to address current priority issues. The Telecommunications and Information Working Group is currently chaired by Mr Richard Thwaites, of Australia's National Office for the Information Economy.