A study sponsored by the European Commission and published yesterday warns that unless action is taken to improve computer and network security, the consequences for businesses across Europe could be severe, even catastrophic. Carried out by consultants Coopers & Lybrand over a two year period concentrating on 21 case studies, the report concludes that inadequate security could hamper the exploitation of network systems in Europe and ultimately put a brake on economic development. Given the amount of business that could therefore be squandered when European trade barriers vanish in 1992, the authors make a series of recommendations to the EC, suppliers and users. The EC is urged to launch a study to ensure that security is given a sufficiently high priority in the RACE programme, ISDN and Electronic Data Interchange initiatives and to accelerate the development of industry-specific baseline controls by supporting initiatives. Vendors are told to co-operate more on the issue of security, and users advised to adopt a more methodical approach to making network systems foolproof. At present security in the European commercial world is given a low profile compared with the vigilance demonstrated across the Atlantic in the US, according to one industry consultant. The US government requires all vendors to comply with its orange book code of security which has no equivalent in the UK civil market. The Department of Trade & Industry is currently working on a security specification that can be made mandatory for suppliers of communications equipment, which would enable UK companies to compete more effectively on a world scale.