Cisco Goes Straight To The President To Complain About The NSA Intercepting Its Hardware
from the NSA-vows-to-take-this-country-down-from-the-inside dept
As part of the NSA's Tailored Access Operations (TAO), shipments are grabbed en route and loaded up with physical spyware before they reach the end user. The slide notes that this "supply chain interdiction" is one of TAO's "most productive operations."
The people in the photo may have had their identities concealed, but there's no mistaking the logo and name on the side of the box. Here's a closer look:
Cisco was none too pleased to see its hardware being given a spyware payload by NSA operatives. Its general counsel, Mark Chandler, said the following in a blog post addressing the newly-leaked document.
As a matter of policy and practice, Cisco does not work with any government, including the United States Government, to weaken our products. When we learn of a security vulnerability, we respond by validating it, informing our customers, and fixing it. We react the same when we find that a customer’s security has been impacted by external forces, regardless of what country or form of government or how that security breach occurred. We offer customers robust tools to defend their environments against attack, and detect attacks when they are happening. By doing these things, we have built and maintained our customers’ trust. We expect our government to value and respect this trust.That the NSA has done what it can to ensure Cisco's world dominance (via its Huawei-related espionage) is probably of little comfort at this point. Anyone looking to purchase Cisco equipment has probably decided to take their business elsewhere. Cisco expressed some concern about the NSA's detrimental effect on its overseas sales last November. This photo only makes that situation worse.
Cisco has now decided to take its complaints right to the top.
Warning of an erosion of confidence in the products of the U.S. technology industry, John Chambers, the CEO of networking giant Cisco Systems, has asked President Obama to intervene to curtail the surveillance activities of the National Security Agency.Chambers goes even further than Cisco's counsel, decrying the NSA's tactics and the damage they're doing to his company's reputation.
In a letter dated May 15 (obtained by Re/code and reprinted in full below), Chambers asked Obama to create “new standards of conduct” regarding how the NSA carries out its spying operations around the world. The letter was first reported by The Financial Times.
“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.”The NSA's self-destructive "no one can touch us" attitude is finally beginning to hurt it -- and everyone it affects. This revelation will chase customers -- including potential targets -- to companies they believe are out of the agency's reach. American companies will be able to offer no assurances that their products have been intercepted/sabotaged. The entire situation is beyond their control, but they'll be the ones ultimately paying the price for the NSA's overreach.