The war against cybercrime has taken a major step forward following a new alliance between Interpol and the private sector.
The French-based international police organisation is working with US Internet consultancy Atomic Tangerine to set up an international intelligence network to cope with the rising tide of cybercrime.
Atomic Tangerine is an offshoot of the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), a California think tank that has done pioneering computer research work and is deeply involved in helping companies fight cybercrime.
The network, planned to be operational in a few months, was announced after a meeting at Interpol headquarters in Lyon last week.
"Private sector companies have a responsibility to their stakeholders and the public at large to protect their Internet activities," say Interpol secretary-general Raymond Kendall and Atomic Tangerine CEO Jonathan Fornaci, in a joint statement.
"Assistance by Interpol can contribute to the private sector's essential self-defence. At the same time, information gathered by some private companies may be of substantial assistance to government agencies," they say.
The road to the alliance began in May at the Internet Defence Summit in Silicon Valley, with top executives from European and American industry, plus the British Department of Trade and Industry.
There, Interpol secretary general Raymond Kendall pledged Interpol co-operation for the fight.
"The private sector must defend itself because government agencies do not have the technology to do the job," he says.
The meeting discussed the plans to pursue the goals originally outlined in the summit.
Kendall agreed to continue to explore a wide range of means whereby Interpol can gather evidence about cybercrime and Internet threats from the 178 members of Interpol.
Both Kendall and Fornaci emphasise any material provided to the business community will not intrude on individual privacy and would be made available to all legitimate users without charge.
The alliance follows a rash of computer crimes over the past six months.
In February, the Yahoo and Amazon Web sites were briefly shut down by a flood of bogus messages; in May the Love Bug struck and since then, firms have been hit by copycat viruses.