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Blue Coat Denies Its Devices Helping Syrian Gov't 73

Posted by timothy
from the und-I'm-learning-chinese-says-werner-von-braun dept.
First time accepted submitter drmemnoch writes with a follow-up to a report last week that Internet proxy / filtering / logging devices made by Sunnyvale, CA based Blue Coat Systems have been used by the Syrian government to monitor and censor Syrian's Internet usage. drmemnoch notes that "Sales to restricted countries can often occur through 3rd party resellers. Blue Coat has yet to provide any information other than denial." Specifically, the company denies direct sales, but in the linked ZDnet report kept mum on how third-party resellers might be involved. I requested comment from the company about how their products might have ended up in Syria; Steve Schick of Blue Coat has responded to that request with a more detailed denial (included below) of the company's involvement, and says that there is "no firm evidence" in the logs leaked by Telecomix that Syria has any Blue Coat equipment at all; dissection of that response is invited.
Schick writes: "Blue Coat does not sell to Syria and neither do we provide any kind of technical support, professional services or software maintenance. To our knowledge, we do not have any customers in Syria.

U.S. companies are prohibited from selling to Syria. In addition, we do not allow any of our resellers, regardless of their location in the world, to sell to an embargoed country, such as Syria.

We have seen logs posted that are allegedly from a Blue Coat appliance in use in Syria. From these logs, we see no firm evidence that would determine there is Blue Coat equipment in Syria; in fact, it appears that these logs came from an appliance in a country where there are no trade restrictions. In addition, the log files appear to have come from a third party server that was storing log files uploaded from one of our appliances. The allegation that an organization penetrated one of our appliances through a security hole is flatly not true. There are no known vulnerabilities of our appliance that would allow such an action."
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Blue Coat Denies Its Devices Helping Syrian Gov't

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  • Seriously, what's the deal with that "first time accepted submitter" thing? What does it bring to the story? Why do we care?

    • by ph4cr (775696)
      Agreed. Is this a new policy? How does one get "accepted" to be a submitter? Is there a litmus test? Geek knowledge? Will we have to provide you with our real names ala Google + ? Just sayin!
      • Yes, it's the litmus test. Lick the paper strip, if it turns blue, you can post. If it turns red, you can't post. There's a well known correlation between your body's acidity and your intelligence, not to mention your relevancy. /sarcasm

        Sorry, couldn't resist. Litmus test, LMAO!!

        • by idontgno (624372)

          There's a well known correlation between your body's acidity and your intelligence, not to mention your relevancy.

          I've submitted several times, and never been accepted, but I'm not bitter.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Exactly. Blue = base = bitter taste. If you're not bitter, that would mean you're acidic = red = sour.

      • by Nyder (754090)

        Agreed. Is this a new policy? How does one get "accepted" to be a submitter? Is there a litmus test? Geek knowledge? Will we have to provide you with our real names ala Google + ?

        Just sayin!

        Common sense tells me that a "First time accepted submitter" is someone who's submitted articles before, but it never got accepted, and this article is the first time that one of this persons submissions has been accept.

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      My guess would be to counter the endless complaints of favoritism to specific submitters. Perhaps Slashdot is trying to widen their net for submitters, and they feel that most people don't think their submission will even be considered. Thus they make a point to show that they do in fact take first time submitters.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Freshly reincarnated submitter Roland Piquepaille writes...

      • by dcollins (135727)

        I've been here for over 10 years, and I've never seen any of these complaints of submitter favoritism. Not once that I can recall. Maybe there's some insider-y meta-forum I don't know about.

        But this "first time submitter" thing craps on my face every single day now.

        • I've been here for over 10 years, and I've never seen any of these complaints of submitter favoritism. Not once that I can recall. Maybe there's some insider-y meta-forum I don't know about.

          No, they've out right in the open. I don't know how you've missed them.

          Heck, I think even I've complained about it, particularly when Daniel Eran Dilger managed to get his largely fictional Pro-Apple stories (see: Roughly Drafted Magazine) published once or twice a week.

          (FYI: While I'm not a big fan of Apple, if your stories have actual facts in them, I'm not against Slashdot publishing them.)

    • Just more noise, like that "story" tag that is attached to, well, everything, as far as I can tell.
  • A likely story.
  • by Qzukk (229616) on Tuesday October 11, 2011 @01:38PM (#37681238) Journal

    See, right here, we sold this equipment to "Totally Not a Front Company for Syria's Government, Inc" in some town called Syria, which I think was in Texas or somewhere.

    They did pay a lot for the shipping, though.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "I'm not a witch, I'm not a witch!"
      "But you are dressed as one!"
      "They dressed me like this! And this isn't my nose, it's a false one!"
      "Did you dress her like this?"
      "No! No, no no, no, no! Yes. A bit! A bit."

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The town I live in (in the US) has the same name as a town in Syria.

  • by nimbius (983462) on Tuesday October 11, 2011 @01:45PM (#37681310) Homepage
    french website that conducted their own investigation of the logs and determined that because they saw a bluecoat header, it was obviously bluecoat. they then reminded their audience they had no concrete evidence bluecoat had sold directly to syria any product. furthermore from a very generic, single header line, the exact model of the product was determined.

    id be way more inclined to believe the article as well, had it not been ended with the line "This is year 2011, states and private companies are here to protect you feel safe."

    http://reflets.info/bluecoats-role-in-syrian-censorship-and-nationwide-monitoring-system/ [reflets.info]
  • Tim, you implied that the vendor's denial was half-assed mumble-wamble, but the response you produced seem pretty categorical.

    What are you trying to get at? Is there more to the background you have failed to note? Cuz, as it is, it appears you're grasping the straws to smear the outfit.

    • by timothy (36799) * Works for Slashdot

      Not trying to smear, and it seems like a pretty clear denial to me as well.

      There are two things in the answer that I'd like to see (preferrably) non Blue Coat employees address, though:

      1) "The allegation that an organization penetrated one of our appliances through a security hole is flatly not true. There are no known vulnerabilities of our appliance that would allow such an action" Is that the case? I don't know enough about it, but I'm sure there are people who do.

      2) "it appears that these logs came from

  • In a world where Iran has nuclear centrifuges, Mexican drug lords have military weapons, Columbian drug cartels have submarines, how could Bluecoat stop some reseller from selling something to Syria?
  • Next July 4th when you're drunk on patriotism and shedding tears while looking at old glory remember that we, the US, are one of the worlds biggest exporters of oppression. Disgusting.
  • After reading TFA.. i found:

    "The evidence we have collected proves that there is a ban on secured authentications for communication tools, such as MSN, Yahoo Messenger, or the Facebook Chat. Syrian people who use these services should be aware that local authorities already stoled their passwords and that all their communications are being intercepted."

    And as someone who has been implementing & supporting Proxy solutions for top 500 level companies in Latin America (yea, including Blue Coat &
  • Simple: Until you can prove it, we deny it.
  • What's next, giving the author of nmap the 3rd degree because someone did something bad with it?

  • by Myuu (529245) <myuu@pojo.com> on Tuesday October 11, 2011 @02:41PM (#37681970) Homepage
    I wrote about the matter this morning:

    "It would appear that all of Syria’s BlueCoat hardware calls home to update its ability to filter and monitor new objects that it has not encountered. Equally importantly, the Syrian logs are filled with queries related to BlueCoat systems, such as ‘bluecoat data collector,’ something that a general home user would have little interest in."

    http://b.averysmallbird.com/entries/bluecoat-and-syria-indicators-and-culpability [averysmallbird.com]

    There is currently a BlueCoat appliance located in Syria at 82.137.200.42; if the company needs any more of the dozen or so identified addresses of their hardware, I or Telecomix would be happy to oblige.
    • If you have a user behind this proxy willing to run Netalyzr [berkeley.edu] and send us the results link either direct to netalyzr-help@icsi.berkeley.edu or to you, I'd be very interested in seeing if we can see the BlueCoat proxy in our Netalyzr testing.

  • Bluecoat is not just a box, it's a service. If Bluecoat is serious about not wanting to be used by Syria they should blackhole Syria's IP ranges. No this can't shut off the service as the syrians could use a proxy server outside their IP ranges but it would show that Bluecoat has made an effort...

    • its not just bluecoat. there are 50 companies (well, not that many but close) in the bay area, alone, who are so into DPI and other invasions of privacy and tell this to one audience as a 'security tool' and all the while selling it to the owners of the country/company as a spy tool.

      I won't name names (they have lawyers; I don't) but any networking company worth anything beyond home unmanaged switches DOES have or PLANS to have DPI and sell it to many bad folks.

      10 or 15 years ago, switching was hot. befor

      • by phayes (202222)

        No argument here, I install & maintain Bluecoats & other security related solutions for a living. Fortunately for my consience, my clients are a lot less oppressive/dangereous that the SG.

  • Sure, using IT infra in this ways is purely evil. And no, companies should not provide any tools for oppressive regimes.

    But when will see the first complaints that Open Source tools allow governments to do largely the same things?

    I'm nos saying that OS is bad, but is there anyway that OS projects can ensure that their products are used for oppressive means? /jussi

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