Router Company Begs Obama to Stop NSA Tampering as Feds Focus on Chinese Hackers


Cisco Systems, probably the best-known provider of network and router technology, saw its sales plunge in 2013 in the wake of Edward Snowden's release of documents detailing the National Security Agency's (NSA) surveillance techniques, which indicated that our online encryption methods were not secure from the feds. Furthermore, the documents indicated the NSA was physically tampering with computer equipment sent through the mail to install methods of intercepting data.

Glenn Greenwald's new book, No Place to Hide, takes the accusations a step further, including photos from a 2010 NSA document that appears to show the agency resealing an intercepted package that is clearly labeled with Cisco's logo.

"Saturday Night Live" really missing out on chance to bring back that IT Guy sketch.
NSA documents

Cisco leaders claim they didn't know the NSA was engaging in this behavior and did not cooperate. Now the chief executive officer of Cisco, John Chambers, has sent a letter directly to President Barack Obama, asking for him to get the NSA to knock it off already.

Tech site Re/Code got a copy of the letter and took note:

Addressing the allegations of NSA interference with the delivery of his company's products, Chambers wrote: "We ship our products globally from inside as well as outside the United States, and if these allegations are true, these actions will undermine confidence in our industry and in the ability of technology companies to deliver products globally."

"We simply cannot operate this way; our customers trust us to be able to deliver to their doorsteps products that meet the highest standards of integrity and security," Chambers wrote. "We understand the real and significant threats that exist in this world, but we must also respect the industry's relationship of trust with our customers."

Failure to restore and repair that trust, Chambers said, could threaten the evolution of the Internet itself and lead to its fragmentation.

Something to keep in mind today as the Department of Justice announces  it is filing charges against five hackers in the Chinese military for stealing trade secrets from American industries.

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  1. Something to keep in mind today as the Department of Justice announces it is filing charges against five hackers in the Chinese military for stealing trade secrets from American industries.

    Huh. An empty gesture that the Obama Administration has neither the will nor the capability to follow through on. Who could have seen that coming?

    1. I’m sure the Chinese are scrambling as we type to extradite these scofflaws.

  2. I’m pretty sure “online encryption methods” which prevent the feds from reading your mail are illegal.

    1. Not really, but the feds will claim as such and enforce that claim with many large guns.

  3. Who needs the tech industry?

    1. Not me. And well, as of late, the tech industry apparently doesn’t need me. So, soon I’ll be cordless, poolside.

  4. Too bad Henry Waxman isn’t still around to haul Cisco in front of. I guess the IRS or SEC will have to punish them instead.

  5. the chief executive officer of Cisco, John Chambers, has sent a letter directly to President Barack Obama, asking for him to get the NSA to knock it off already

    Obviously a PR stunt to salvage earnings in growth markets. He knows as well as anyone that nothing will change.

    1. shorter Chambers: when we were writing those fat campaign checks to you, this is not what we had in mind.

      1. And when we voted for you again, this really, really wasn’t what we had in mind. By the way, is there a way you could run a third time, Mr. President, because you have my full support.

  6. So Tim Lee (formerly of Tech Liberation Front) started “The Switch” over at the WashPost which seemed like a good balanced blog with Tim countering the statists. But he left and now The Switch is heavily one-sided pro-NN.

    This has been a PSA for your benefit.

  7. Nevertheless, Cisco and other tech companies do not have their hands clean. This is something already publicized and known, since 2004.…

    The only difference between the NSA’s implanted backdoor and Cisco’s intentional backdoor for the government is that the NSA can skip all the paperwork.

    1. Specifically see Cisco Architecture for Lawful Intercept in IP Networks (RFC 3924)…..index.html

      To their credit, at least they publish this for review and comments. Others secretly implement something similar as have been discovered by over the years.

    2. They may not be clean, but they appear to be one of the cleanest:

      Cisco said it is aware of Cross’s assertions and is taking them under consideration. To Cisco’s credit, it is the only networking company that makes its lawful intercept architecture public, according to the recommendations of the IETF, the Forbes story states. Other companies do not, which means they may be susceptible to the same security flaws, or worse.

    3. (Disclaimer:My work AND home networks are full of Cisco gear)

      They’re pretty much required to put in that lawful intercept crap (or lose a large chunk of business) due to CALEA and similar laws.

      1. The FCC’s First Report and Order, issued in September 2005, ruled that providers of broadband Internet access and interconnected VoIP services are regulable as “telecommunications carriers” under CALEA. That order was affirmed and further clarified by the Second Report and Order, dated May 2006. On May 5, 2006, a group of higher education and library organizations led by the American Council on Education (ACE) challenged that ruling, arguing that the FCC’s interpretation of CALEA was unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment. However, on June 9, 2006, the D.C. Circuit Court disagreed and summarily denied the petition.[6]

        But you see, CALEA happened under Clinton, and the FCC says that it gets to listen to all your packetz because Net Neutrality and freedom of speeches is at stake!

  8. When I was in college in the 90s I recall overhearing some guy talk about how his father worked on switches, and how everything was built so as to allow the government to plug in whenever they want.

    1. Well, in telco for the last 130 years there has always been the monitor capability. As a matter of fact, you used to have to SPEAK TO THE MONITORER to make a call.

      Monitor ports do serve a legit purpose though…just not the one the fed want that capability for.

  9. If the NSA was confiscating mail without warrants to do so, isn’t that tampering with mail and a federal felony? Some NSA agents, and their supervisors, directors, and such should be going to prison.

    Heads need to roll, and I’m not talking figuratively either!

  10. “The traditional way of getting into networks has been somewhat easy, because with Cisco, Juniper, Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei, those are defined equipment and tech, and those are only four companies to worry about,” he says. “Now you will have millions of developers over the next few years, as you open up the networking world to [development]. There could be literally thousands of products [the NSA will] have to manage and figure out how to break into.”

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