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Cisco Complains To Obama About NSA Adding Spyware To Routers 297

pdclarry (175918) writes "Glenn Greenwald's book No Place to Hide reveals that the NSA intercepts shipments of networking gear destined for overseas and adds spyware. Cisco has responded by asking the President to intervene and stop this practice, as it has severely hurt their non-U.S. business, with shipments to other countries falling from 7% for emerging countries to over 25% for Brazil and Russia."
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Cisco Complains To Obama About NSA Adding Spyware To Routers

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  • by Katatsumuri ( 1137173 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @08:13AM (#47037151)

    Why does NSA have to do this? Can't they just order Cisco to install this in their factory?

    Or did they co-operate in this way to prevent whistle-blowing or counterintelligence at the factory?

    In any case, I doubt Cisco didn't know about this. They are probably trying to save their face after a third party uncovered this.

  • by Tha_Zanthrax ( 521419 ) <slashdot@zanthrax . n l> on Monday May 19, 2014 @08:17AM (#47037167) Homepage Journal
    Cisco knew, they even had a 'choice' in the matter: cooperate with the government and keep your mouth shut about it or get your business ruined by that same government.
  • Re:Hypocritical (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2014 @08:25AM (#47037201)

    It takes one to know one. The US government was afraid of that kind of thing exactly because they knew they were doing it to everybody else.

  • Too late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @08:42AM (#47037289)

    Problem is that there is pretty much no possible way Cisco can put the toothpaste back in the tube. They have no simple way to prove to potential customers that their gear hasn't been hacked or compromised in some way. The actions (real or perceived) of the NSA have basically screwed a number of US companies in overseas markets where security is any sort of a concern.

    Basically even the perception that the NSA may have compromised the equipment is enough to keep people from buying Cisco. Of course then the question becomes who do you trust? The Chinese make a lot of gear but they are probably trusted even less than the Americans if anything. Unless the gear is manufactured domestically under supervision it's unclear how you ensure that no one has introduced undesirable code/hardware.

  • Re:Hey Obama (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CreatureComfort ( 741652 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @08:43AM (#47037297)

    You understand the complaint is that they BOUGHT the congress, so they could have the tax code changed so they could legally shift their share of tax responsibility to others? So, while yes you are technically correct, you, and they, are so morally bankrupt I can't understand how you can live with yourself.
  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @08:44AM (#47037303)

    Why does NSA have to do this? Can't they just order Cisco to install this in their factory?

    Why risk someone at Cisco running to the press? Best to keep them out of the loop.

  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @08:47AM (#47037321)

    Why does NSA have to do this? Can't they just order Cisco to install this in their factory?

    Actually, no. They can ASK Cisco to do this, but they have no legal power to order them to do this.

    Now, they may quietly PRETEND they have the legal power to order this, and phrase their request as an order. But they really can't do much if Cisco ignores them.

    Except, you know, throw them in prison without a trial.
    An agency with no oversight, who's "requests" cannot be questioned openly without charges of treason, has the power to do anything they want to anyone they want.

  • Feeling ashamed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chewbacon ( 797801 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @08:51AM (#47037347) think 40 years ago we were on the brink of nuclear war with a country that did shit like this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2014 @08:51AM (#47037353)

    See Plausible deniability []

    Plausible deniability is a term coined by the CIA in the early 1960s to describe the withholding of information from senior officials in order to protect them from repercussions in the event that illegal or unpopular activities by the CIA became public knowledge.

    It's roots go back to Eisenhower's NSC Directive NSC 5412 of March 15, 1954, which defined "covert operations" as "...all activities conducted pursuant to this directive which are so planned and executed that any U.S. Government responsibility for them is not evident to unauthorized persons and that if uncovered the U.S. Government can plausibly disclaim any responsibility for them." [NSC 5412 was de-classifed in 1977, and is located at the National Archives, RG 273.]

    Otherwise known as "They think you're a fucking dumb cunt."

  • by felixrising ( 1135205 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @08:53AM (#47037361)
    During the NBN infrastructure procurement process, apparently the USA provided intelligence to Australia indicating Chinese owned Huawei be excluded as a supplier . Not doubt to aid both Cisco's chances of winning the bid, whilst also providing an easy in for the NSA to get it's ears pre-installed in Australia's NBN well in advance. It certainly smells dirty to me...
  • Re:Hypocritical (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MaskedSlacker ( 911878 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @08:56AM (#47037373)

    In the case of Cisco most of the world can trust their gear with the exception of people who are direct targets of the NSA.

    If there is anything we have learned since the Snowden Saga started, it is that most of the world are direct targets of the NSA. That is, your post is self-nullifying and vanishes in a poof of logic.

  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @08:57AM (#47037379)

    An agency with no oversight, who's "requests" cannot be questioned openly without charges of treason, has the power to do anything they want to anyone they want.

    Several things:

    1) "whose". Illiteracy doesn't actually make your arguments better.

    2) Treason is defined by the Constitution. Article 3, Section 3. Learn it, love it, live it. There's a reason why people don't get charged with treason all that often. Note that Snowden did NOT get charged with treason. Do you really think anyone at Cisco can be charged with treason if they can't charge Snowden with it?

    3) thank you for agreeing with me. They have no legal power to do so, though they can PRETEND they do by phrasing requests as orders. Alas, ignoring them doesn't actually get you in trouble.

  • Re:Feeling ashamed (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2014 @09:02AM (#47037417)

    You're Russian?

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @09:05AM (#47037429) Homepage
    Organizational stagnation keeps cisco in the money. Their contracts are draconian, their prices are exorbitant, they bully IT departments that try to divest from them, and their support/documentation model is based on the 1970's approach to servicing a maytag washer. namely, that only the cloistered few shall have access.

    you might need them for carrier grade (whatever that means these days) equipment but largely their market share has diminished because of competition and open source. PF and IPTables solved the firewall part, CARP and keepalived solved redundancy, and asian companies like TPLink took what they learned from years of running Cisco factories and put it into a much more reasonable offering that doesnt include secret spy chips. that is unless you ask an american intelligence agency (whatever that means these days) in which case theyre riddled with evil and you need to keep buying Cisco.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2014 @09:12AM (#47037497)

    The U.S. government is extremely corrupt. It is silly to talk about the constitution and law when there are many situations in which people operating with the power of the U.S. government do not feel bound by any law.

  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @09:21AM (#47037551)

    If it weren't for Edward Snowden, Cisco would have never been able to complain--because no one would have ever known it was happening. Keep in mind that the NSA had been doing this kind of stuff for OVER 10 YEARS without a significant leak. So you can't blame them for functioning under the assumption that neither Cisco nor anyone else was ever going to know it was happening (until about 75 years from now, when it's finally declassified).

  • by kilfarsnar ( 561956 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @09:49AM (#47037743)

    What they do is use their total information awareness to find some excuse to put the executives in prison for a completely different reason. The difference matters little to the executive.

    Now, who would do [] such a thing?

  • by Spamalope ( 91802 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @09:55AM (#47037781)

    Not if the factory is in China.

    And now China has political cover if we notice them inserting their own changes into, say, the ethernet PHY compromising every router regardless of firmware revision. Or adds their own Stuxnet onto the support CDs included with the router.

  • Re:Hypocritical (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <> on Monday May 19, 2014 @09:57AM (#47037799) Homepage Journal

    I'm glad America approves me hacking American systems and spying on American people. After all, foreigners are fair game, and Americans are foreigner to me, so...?

  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @10:27AM (#47038029) Homepage Journal

    What in the patriot act gives them this power?

    You don't need the power officially. They have ways of getting what they want.

    [Quest's CEO] says he refused to cooperate based on advice from his lawyers that such an action would be illegal, as the NSA would not go through the normal process of asking the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for a subpoena. About this time, he says the company’s ability to win unrelated government contracts - something it did not have trouble with before the NSA meeting - slowed significantly.

    In other words, once you start sucking on Satan's cock, you're not allowed to stop. Ever.

    There's a lesson to be learned there...

  • by Dishevel ( 1105119 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @10:40AM (#47038149)

    I am unsure if you realize this, but for the last 6 years Obama has been President, with the democrats owning the Senate since well before that. The biggest people complaining about this seem to be Rand Paul and sadly only a few others. Meanwhile the stupid and annoying cunts Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi circle jerk around how we need this surveillance state.

    I am unsure if you realize this but even the Republican mainstream will not fight too hard to get rid of Big Brother.

    Government whores just want more government power over the people. Republicans and Democrats are to blame for this shit.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @10:40AM (#47038151) Homepage

    Actually you can, Cisco can start hiring contractor security firms and get more guns than the NSA. an NSA agent that has a M16 rifle pushed in his face by contractors and being told to "please leave the premises..... SIR!" has two options, he can leave or he can be killed in self defense.

    A large very rich corperation can get away with a hired army to protect themselves from the government.

    but that slippery slope is very steep and very very slippery.

  • by Remus Shepherd ( 32833 ) <> on Monday May 19, 2014 @01:22PM (#47039539) Homepage
    Don't pin your hopes on teaching people what your religion believes. *Every* religion believes in wacky, nonsensical things that can be twisted around and laughed at.

    Teach people that your religion *acts well*. That should be your central difference with Scientology -- the Scientologists break the law to spy on and destroy their enemies, while legitimate religions treat people fairly. Belief does not matter at all. The way a religion acts is what makes them honorable or criminal.

Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise. -- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, Sep. 1984