TOKYO -- Eighteen Japanese firms said Tuesday they were creating the world's first ratings agency looking at data security, which they said was a rising concern for companies.
The new firm, called IS Rating, will be launched on May 1 and start issuing ratings in July, both to Japanese and foreign companies and organizations.
It will give out ratings based on how they manage data, including files containing personal information, which circulates within the firm or is shared with third parties.
IS Rating will also offer training and edit documents to encourage security.
"For businesses, it's extremely complicated to measure whether the internal handling of their masses of data is appropriate," the firms creating the new agency said in a joint statement.
Major international firms generally adhere to an international code of technical safety standards known as ISO 27001.
But the statement said: "In addition to existing norms on the security of information management such as ISO 27001, a new scale provides a complementary tool that has been asked for."
Companies which are shareholders in the new agency include electronics giant Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., best known for the Panasonic brand, along with computer maker Fujitsu Ltd. and photocopier producer Fuji Xerox Co. Ltd.
Other firms in the initiative include a subsidiary of electronics maker Canon Inc., the Nikkei business media group, the Mitsubishi Corp. trading house and banks Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd. and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.