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US Highlights Need For Global Cyber Security Strategy

A top US official has warned that nation states are struggling to cope with the flood of cyber attacks

A top US official has warned that a global response is needed to tackle the increasingly sophisticated cyber threat.

Speaking to reporters in Vienna, Austria where she is to address an international security conference, US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano also warned that sovereign nations are struggling to cope with the rising amount of cyber threats.

“Most countries don’t even have a legal framework that really governs cyber. It is such a new phenomenon in that regard so the legal systems – both domestic and international – have not kept pace with the technological advances we have seen,” Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Quicker Response

“And that is just the plain fact of it. We need to accelerate that in response,” she added.

Her warning comes amid a rising tide of cyber attacks against soveriegn nations and governments, as well as strategically important companies and organisations. This includes recent attacks that have hit the the International Monetary Fund, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and companies such as  Citigroup and Lockheed Martin.

Napolitano also warned that many countries need to accelerate their security procedures as well as their ability to co-operate.

“I would have to say that we are still at the nascent stage. There is no comprehensive international framework,” for approaching the issue, she told reporters. She also added that the situation was no better in the European Union.

“We are all scrambling but we are scrambling with some of the best minds in the world and we are confident that from a technological point of view we are going to get to a satisfactory resolution of some of these difficult problems,” she is quoted as saying. “Right now there needs to be some sort of international legal framework to address those and that does not yet exist.”

Threat Levels

There is little doubt as to the seriousness of the threat out there at the moment. This week the UK Ministry of Defence created a new joint force command unit, that will integrate the MoD’s cyber warfare and military intelligence units.

Earlier this month defence secretary Dr Liam Fox warned that Britain is under constant attack from hackers, and that last year 1,000 potentially serious offensives were blocked. And in May the British government also acknowledged it had begun work on a “toolbox” of offensive cyber-weapons to complement its existing defensive capabilities.

This followed the comments from Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey last November, when he said that the UK must have the ability to launch its own attack against those carrying out cyberwarfare against this country and its infrastructure.

The ongoing cyber warfare threat has also led to the European Union recently creating its own taskforce to counter the growing threat of cyber attacks.

Mass Spam Decline

Meanwhile a new security report from Cisco has revealed that cyber criminals have made a fundamental shift in strategy, abandoning traditional mass spam attacks in favour of personalised attacks which result in a greater financial impact on targeted organisations.

The Cisco report shows the trend toward increased targeted attacks featuring highly customised threats containing malware that are directed at a specific user or group of users for intellectual property theft.

This comes as its research found that financial returns from mass email-based attacks declined by more than 50 percent from $1.1 billion (£687m) in June 2010 to $500 million (£312m) in June 2011.

It also found that mass spam volumes plummeted from 300 billion daily spam messages to just 40 billion between June 2010 and June 2011.

“Personalised and targeted attacks that focus on gaining access to more lucrative corporate bank accounts and valuable intellectual property are on the rise,” said Nick Edwards, director of Cisco’s Security Technology Business Unit. “Law enforcement efforts are making mass spam attacks less appealing to cybercriminals, who are thus spending more time and effort focusing on different types of spearphishing and targeted attacks.”

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Vidyo Funding To Help Video Conferencing Push

Vidyo has gained additional funds as it seeks to take of the video conferencing might of Polycom and Cisco

The increasingly competitive video communications space could see fresh impetus after Vidyo, which is trying to challenge heavyweights Cisco and Polycom, gained $22.5 million (£14.6m) in new funding.

Vidyo officials said the money from Series D round of financing will be used to boost its sales and marketing activities around the world to grow the adoption of their software-based video collaboration offerings, which include mobile, desktop and room systems, as well as immersive telepresence environments.

Investors in the latest round of financing, which brought the total amount raised by Vidyo since its founding in 2005 to $96 million (£62.5m), include existing investors Menlo Ventures, Rho Ventures, Star Ventures and Four Rivers Group. The financing round was led by QuestMark Partners.

Platform Portability

“Vidyo is the only company that offers a telepresence solution that extends from an immersive room to desktops and iPads or Android mobile devices, on a single infrastructure,” Vidyo co-founder and CEO Ofer Shapiro said in a statement. “Vidyo is fortunate to have outstanding investors who understand the architectural shift occurring in the market today and customers who will no longer pay the excessive cost of traditional telepresence when they can truly have more for less.”

Vidyo over the past year-plus has rolled out offerings designed to lower the cost of adopting and deploying video collaboration offerings. The company’s also looked to partner with other tech vendors – most recently with Ricoh – to expand the reach of their products in the market.

At the core of Vidyo’s platform is the VidyoRouter, which utilises the vendor’s Adaptive Video Layering architecture and is designed to deliver high-definition multipoint conferencing to various endpoints, from mobile devices and desktops to conference rooms. In addition, the company in June unveiled VidyoPanorama, a telepresence offering that company officials said comes in at a fraction of the cost of systems from Cisco and Polycom.

Vidyo is trying to fill the gap between the higher cost offerings of its competitors and the offerings from vendors like Skype, which may be less expensive but also offer fewer choices and lower quality.

“You’re always trying to manage these tradeoffs,” Young-Sae Song, vice president of product marketing at Vidyo, said in an interview with eWEEK at the time. “Then there’s us. We’re trying to bring the high quality without the high costs.”

Other vendors, including Radivision and ShoreTel, also are looking to be the low-cost alternative to Cisco and Polycom, both of which have made significant moves over the past year to bulk up their portfolios – Cisco with its acquisition of Tandberg and Polycom with its purchase of HP’s visual communications products.

Big Gun Challenge

However, those larger companies also are looking for ways to reduce the cost of video collaboration and expand their reach, which will put more pressure on the likes of Vidyo.

Polycom officials 14 September unveiled a significant software strategy aimed at bringing HD video collaboration to a wide range of environments – from business to social networking to mobile – and through a variety of methods, including on-premise, hosted or the cloud via service providers. Polycom’s goal is to increase is run rate from about $1.5 billion (£978m) now to $3 billion (£1.9bn) in the next few years.

The software strategy, which includes a rebranding of its open software platform from the UC Intelligent Core to the Polycom RealPresence Platform, is designed to bring Polycom’s solutions into as many environments as possible, and to make it flexible enough to adapt as the industry and customer demands evolve, according to President and CEO Andy Miller.

“Polycom is known for the innovative solutions that have been powering business communications for nearly 20 years and our software is at the core of enabling a highly differentiated customer experience,” Miller said in a statement. “Moving forward, Polycom software will be increasingly present in desktop, mobile, and social networking platforms as Polycom captures the fast-growing demand for HD video collaboration that is open, secure, and integrated into each customer’s work and social environment.”