Cisco Systems Inc. last month announced a dozen security-related enhancements to its networking product line. Cisco put much of its emphasis on embedding security technology into routers and other networking devices for small offices and telecommuters. For example, the company added features such as an embedded firewall for Internet Protocol data, voice and video to its Cisco 800 Series and SOHO 90 Series broadband routers for small and home offices. Cisco also announced virtual private network (VPN) acceleration modules for its 2691, 3660 and 3700 series routers. The modules are designed to boost the performance of branch-office VPNs while decreasing CPU usage on the routers by 50 per cent, according to Cisco.

Microsoft adds security service for novice end-users

Microsoft Corp. is expanding its security notification service in an effort to better serve end users who are not technically savvy, the company said last month. Many end users find Microsoft’s current security bulletins “overly detailed and confusing,” said Steve Lipner, director of security assurance at Microsoft, in an e-mail. In addition to the technical bulletins, Microsoft will now also create bulletins specifically for end users. These bulletins, hosted at, will describe straightforward steps that users can take to help keep their systems secure, Lipner wrote. An alert service for the new end user bulletins should be operational by year’s end.

RealNetworks patches flaws in media player software

Security flaws in RealNetworks Inc.’s media player software could allow attackers to run arbitrary code on a user’s computer, the company warned last month. Three vulnerabilities exist in the Windows versions of the RealOne Player and RealPlayer, according to a statement on RealNetworks’ Web site. By encouraging a RealOne or RealPlayer user to download a malformed file, an attacker could run code of his/her choice on a user’s system, according to a security advisory sent by Next Generation Security Software Ltd. of Sutton, England, to the NTBugtraq mailing list. RealNetworks recommends users install a patch to fix the software.