Cyber attacks outpace global response, U.S. warns

VIENNA, (Reuters) – The technical sophistication of  cybercriminals is swamping the world’s ability to cope, a top  U.S. official warned yesterday, demanding an accelerated  cross-border campaign to combat the security threat.

“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,”  U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said.

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

Prominent cyber attacks of late have targeted the  International Monetary Fund, the U.S. Central Intelligence  Agency and the U.S. Senate, and companies such as Citigroup   and Lockheed Martin Corp .

The attacks have raised questions about the security of  government and corporate computer systems and the ability of law  enforcement to track down hackers.

Napolitano, in Vienna to address an international security  conference, declined to comment on the status of investigations  into these cases but stressed countries had to step up their  ability to cooperate.

“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, adding 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.

“Right now there needs to be some sort of international  legal framework to address those and that does not yet exist.”

A senior Chinese official denied last week there was any  cyber warfare going on between China and the United States,  after weeks of friction over accusations that China may have  launched a string of Internet hacking attacks.

Accusations against China have centred on an intrusion into  the networks of Lockheed Martin and other U.S. military  contractors, as well as efforts to gain access to the Google   email accounts of U.S. officials and Chinese human  rights advocates.

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