The UK's heavy hitters are coming together to target cyber crime and similar rogue issues.

A new partnership is to be established to provide a UK-wide focus to address a number of important information security challenges, including cyber crime, identity management and biometrics.

The Cyber Security Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), funded by the Department of Trade and Industry, will provide a single national platform for drawing on security expertise from across industry, academia and government.

The network will be managed by QinetiQ, which has a major base at Malvern, and will be instrumental in help-ing UK enterprises develop innovative products and services that address the challenges posed by the need for improved digital security. These challenges include the increasing demand for biometrics for business security and passport applications and the growing awareness of the need for solutions to identity fraud and theft.

The creation of the network is being claimed as a timely move towards ensuring a joined-up approach from security experts across a wide range of public and commercial sectors.

The KTN is expected to inform current Government initiatives such as E-Borders, identity cards and E-Government.

The Cyber Security KTN will be overseen by an expert panel in the form of a steering committee.

The committee, chaired by BT's Robert Ghanea-Hercock, has been drawn primarily from industry and includes representatives of Aviva, BP, Visa, British Airways, Cisco and Microsoft. The DTI, Home Office, MoD, other government departments and various leading universities are also represented.

The steering committee will decide on strategy direction and allocate funds from an initial #1.8 million budget for individual projects and working groups.

The KTN will also lead in collecting the views of the community on what should be covered by the #10 million Network Security Innovation Platform announced by the Technology Strategy Board last November, which is expected to include calls for collaborative research and development grant projects, demonstrator schemes and the development of standards.

Welcoming the announcement of the new security part-nership, Lord Sainsbury, Science and Innovation Minister at the DTI, said: "This initiative provides a real opportunity to harness the world class information and network security expertise that we possess in the UK and direct it towards the task of wealth creation.

"Cyber security is of crucial importance in a modern digital society and economy. By providing a focus for collaboration and delivery this Knowledge Transfer Network should establish British industry as the world leader in this area and, ultimately, help in our collective goal of reducing cyber crime and making the digital economy a safer and more attractive proposition for investors."

Sadie Creese, strategic research manager in QinetiQ's information security division and director of the Cyber Security KTN, said: "This new national network, by bringing together experts and stakeholders from academia, industry and government, will help the UK close the gap between research and successfully deployed security solutions.

"The network aims to provide a catalyst for growth and innovation in the security market and help deliver trustworthy and trusted tech-nology. I am delighted that QinetiQ has been selected to lead this important project and we look forward to delivering real solutions to some of the significant security challenges we all face."

The Cyber Security KTN has been established in recognition of the need to address the security implications of a society increasingly dependent on computing and communications technologies.

Key security issues include:

* The provision of security solutions which are not prohibitive in terms of financial cost or technical complexity for users.

* Ensuring that data stored, manipulated and communicated digitally remains confidential to authorised users and is protected from corruption.

* Enabling access to systems, networks and data in a timely manner and providing quality of service.

* Allowing users of digital technologies to understand the level of threat they are exposed to and providing ways of mitigating risk.

* The prevention of malicious action, or in cases where it is not prevented, the detection of such action and its perpetrators, and means of prosecution and compensation.

* The protection of users' personal credentials from theft when using digital services and technologies.

* The development of suitable mechanisms to protect users' privacy.

* The delivery of effective education on how to use security solutions appropriately.

The DTI's Innovation Review identified access to networks and sources of new knowledge as two of the most important determinants of business innovation performance.

Because innovation is a complex process, success relies on the coming together of a variety of players, such as suppliers, customers, other firms, universities, research and technology organisations, the finance community and other intermediaries. Together, these players form part of the knowledge transfer system.

A KTN is a single national over-arching network in a specific field of technology or business application. It brings together these various organisations to provide a range of activities and initiatives to enable the exchange of knowledge and stimulation of innovation within this community.

The objective of a KTN is to improve the UK's innovation performance by increasing the breadth and depth of the knowledge transfer of tech-nology into UK-based businesses and by accelerating the rate at which this process occurs. The Network must, throughout its lifetime, actively contribute and remain aligned to the development of a national Technology Strategy.

KTNs are part of a programme whose purpose is to provide funding to facilitate further investment in science, engineering and technology with the active participation of business and industry. There are now 18 KTNs, with around #40 million funding over the next three years in area such as bioprocessing, materials, grid computing and resource efficiency.