Dear Obama — Tell the NSA to get an honest job and quit playing God

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.

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.

The letter follows new revelations, including photos, published in a book based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden alleging that the NSA intercepted equipment from Cisco and other manufacturers and loaded them with surveillance software. The photos, which have not been independently verified, appear to show NSA technicians working with Cisco equipment. Cisco is not said to have cooperated in the NSA’s efforts.

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…”

Here’s a link [.pdf] to the complete Chambers letter to President Obama.

Obama rolls over and plays dead for the State Department party line that’s unchanged since Truman. He rolls over and plays dead for the NSA crowd that’s been in charge since Ronald Reagan. No surprise to folks who study American foreign policy and domestic spying policies – as practiced.

The standard dicho on US spies was the CIA is liberals, the FBI is conservatives and the NSA is Nazis. That hasn’t changed. The roles they play internally has. The ultimate rat bastard bigot, J.Edgar Hoover, ran the FBI as his own personal Red Squad for decades. The CIA played the same role abroad – recruiting people who might have ended up in the Peace Corps otherwise. The my-country-right-or-wrong nursery rhyme still worked.

The NSA has always hoped for a dictator – conservative or fascist never made much of a difference. Reagan gave them every hope of success and an endless budget – which continues today.

No part of this process gives a damn about unemployed Americans, businesses dwindling down into a rusty crapper, the potential for trade in a globalized economy, education, healthcare, equal rights – for Americans or anyone else on the planet. American politicians, American corporations should rule the world and maximize profit at every level. Period.

I wish John Chambers well. His company played a significant role in building the Internet as we know it – and made money along the way. But, the rest of the world now indicts Cisco the way the NSA’s favorite pimp, Mike Rogers, tried to indict Huawei from the floor of Congress. The world has evidence for their opinion – courtesy of Edward Snowden.

I don’t think Obama will change the core tasks and policies of the NSA in the least. He’s drunk the KoolAid of Imperial America and it’s stronger than anything you can smoke on the South Side of Chicago. The propaganda may change. The lies to us – may change. Not the destiny they consider their right. God bless the United States of Amerika.

Security expert says surveillance cameras can be hacked

A U.S. security expert says he has identified ways to remotely attack high-end surveillance cameras used by industrial plants, prisons, banks and the military, something that potentially would allow hackers to spy on facilities or gain access to sensitive computer networks.

Craig Heffner, a former software developer with the National Security Administration who now works for a private security firm, said he discovered the previously unreported bugs in digital video surveillance equipment from firms including Cisco Systems, D-Link Corp and TRENDnet.

“It’s a significant threat,” he said in an interview. “Somebody could potentially access a camera and view it. Or they could also use it as a pivot point, an initial foothold, to get into the network and start attacking internal systems.”

He plans to demonstrate techniques for exploiting these bugs at the Black Hat hacking conference, which starts July 31 in Las Vegas.

Heffner, who now works as a vulnerability researcher with a firm known as Tactical Network Solutions in Columbia, Maryland, said that he has discovered hundreds of thousands of surveillance cameras that can be accessed via the public Internet…

Cisco, D-Link and TRENDnet said they would take any appropriate action that might be needed to secure their equipment after the Black Hat presentation.

Isn’t that thoughtful?

I thought every geek watched PERSON OF INTEREST? You’d suppose since the hacking of security cameras has been a significant, recurrent portion of every episode of the series – that companies making their profits from security camera hardware might have checked the integrity of their systems by now.

Or not. They could just rely on the government to keep them safe.

Cisco says they can secure employees’ BYOD personal devices

Cisco Systems is expanding its services to enable companies to manage and secure private mobile devices used by employees at work, aiming to benefit from the trend widely known as BYOD or Bring Your Own Device.

While corporate IT departments have systems in place to ensure desktop security and to prevent data loss over the Internet or through emails, they are now facing the challenge of dealing with devices such as smartphones, tablets, USB drives or laptops that can open the door to malware or data loss.

That’s where Cisco sees growth opportunities for its services, which it has expanded to enable businesses to provide control over individual access and security, beyond merely connecting outside devices to a company network…

Allowing staff to use any device they choose is becoming a differentiator for companies seeking to hire young employees but it can become a nightmare for the IT department.

According to a study…”Fifty-nine percent of respondents report that employees circumvent or disengage security features, such as passwords and key locks, on corporate and personal mobile devices”. However, only 39 percent have the necessary security controls to address the risk, and only 45 percent have enforceable policies, the study also said.

Cisco, which allows staff to use their own devices, said earlier this month that staff using personal devices at the company grew 52 percent in the past year…with iPhones dominating…devices being used by employees.

Now I have to go to Cisco’s site to see how they provide this management because the bloody article doesn’t tell me a damned thing.

UPDATE: The Cisco info is obviously written by a geek robot managed by a lawyer.

“Discover a truly experience-centric solution with context-aware on-boarding, secure access to resources, and high-performance network connections for any mobile device. These capabilities are complemented by new end-to-end wired, wireless and VPN performance management. The result is a superior user and IT experience without sacrificing security, visibility, and control…

Simplify deployment, accelerate troubleshooting, and lower your operating cost with Cisco Prime management capabilities.

Cisco Prime Assurance Manager provides simple dashboard visibility into application performance across wired and wireless networks and end devices.

Cisco Prime Infrastructure offers a consolidated bundle of wired and wireless lifecycle management plus new branch network management functions.

Integration of the latest WLAN controller capabilities into the Cisco ISR G2 and Catalyst 6500 Series helps optimize operational model in the campus and branch.

Cisco blasted for arranging arrest of whistleblower – as a fugitive

Networking giant Cisco was blasted by a Canadian judge for arranging for the criminal arrest of a whistleblower who was suing the company.

Peter Adekeye launched an anti-trust case against his former employer in the US District Court for Northern California and was giving his deposition where he lived in Vancouver when four coppers entered the room and interrupted the hearing.

According to Ars Technica. Adekeye was jailed while the legal mess was sorted out. Part of the problem was that the highly expensive legal team for Cisco had done its best to convince the Canadian authorities that Adekeye was a “sinister” Nigerian on the run from 97 charges of illegal computer hacking…

US prosecutors invoked “emergency provisions” of the Extradition Act to obtain the arrest warrant…

When the extradition documentation actually arrived, the judge would discover that it was a pack of “innuendo, half truths, and complete falsehoods.”

Throughout all of this, the judges and the Canadian legal system was apparently unaware that all the made-up crimes were part of the bigger anti-trust battle Adekeye was waging against Cisco…

Justice McKinnon was shocked that a trivial $14,000 civil case had been transformed into a criminal proceeding and engaged the full might and resources of two governments, with the aim of misleading one of Canada’s senior trial courts.

Cisco allegedly engineered it so that the arrest took place in the presence of a US High Court Judge, Special Master, George Fisher, with Cisco’s lawyers insisting on filming the entire arrest on the record. It was clearly an attempt to humiliate Adekeye and weaken his case.

McKinnon said that it all spoke “volumes for Cisco’s duplicity”.

What should be most alarming is that Cisco could use extradition laws and their buddies in the US government to have those who challenged their dominion locked up under American laws – in Canada.

Has Cisco decided to compete with Microsoft Office?

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Cisco Systems is considering offering Web-based alternatives to Microsoft’s popular Office software as the networking giant expands on the Internet.

Cisco Senior Vice President Doug Dennerline said his company may develop a service that would allow business users to create documents they could draft and share through its WebEx meeting and collaboration service.

Internet-based alternatives to Microsoft Office cropped up about five years ago, but corporate users have yet to embrace them. If the approach does take off, it could become big business: Microsoft’s Office division rang up sales of $60 billion in the software company’s most-recent fiscal year.

Google sells Google Apps, an Internet-based alternative to Microsoft Office that includes a spreadsheet, word processor and presentation software. Design software maker Adobe Systems Inc and privately held Zoho Corp offer similar products.

Dennerline, who manages Cisco’s online collaboration products, said he is interested in getting into that area.

That is an interesting space. We are certainly thinking about that,” he said…during an online news conference. He did not elaborate.

He doesn’t have to elaborate. That’s why we have pundits and analysts.

Cisco Unified Computing – the hardware for Cloud Computing 2.0

This may stretch the geek attention span for my regular readers. I go all the way back to discussions of the semantics of programming languages in the early 1960’s. I’ve been online since 1983. I’m married to a banking IT maven. You get the idea…

Cisco Systems has announced its new blade server, first reported by us in March 2008, along with a Unified Computing strategy that converges storage, compute and networking into a single layer (thanks to virtualization technologies) that is managed by a specialized piece of software. Stacey has captured the intricate details of the news, while I have already posted about the imperative behind these moves.

This new comm-puting approach adopted by Cisco is unique, in that it is the first time a company is selling a single packaged offering so to speak. People have sold either storage related equipment, or network layer gear or just servers. So, what does Cisco’s announcement mean for existing vendors?

Prior to Cisco’s announcement, Sun Microsystems and eGenera, a Marlboro, Mass.-based early stage company have often talked about such a unified, network centric future. Even IBM takes a holistic view of the data center.

Cisco, by virtue of being a late comer to the market, has managed not only to lap them, but has also posed a serious challenge to two major blade server makers – Hewlett-Packard and Dell. You can put Rackable in this category as well, but it’s a small player compared to these behemoths. One of the main reasons these companies are at risk is because they have typically innovated on cost and performance metrics, not a whole 360-degree view of the changing data center infrastructure. Google, as a company, has reinvented data centers by building its own gear, and taking a holistic approach to the data centers.

RTFA. Click all the links. Knock yourself out.

John Chambers: Broadband speeds our economy

Daylife/AP Photo by Paul Sakuma

Now that President Obama has signed the $787 billion economic stimulus package into law, the real hard work begins: using that money to create jobs. If spent wisely, this package has a chance at fundamentally reforming the U.S. health-care system, making our economy energy efficient and providing Americans with the training and skills required to succeed in a 21st century global marketplace.

But the country can’t accomplish these goals unless it has the infrastructure to support them. That’s why the funding for broadband was so vital. Broadband is the ticket for entry to participate in the world economy. It is a fundamental technology upon which other things are built. It enables collaboration, innovation and operational excellence, and positions the U.S. to compete on a global basis.

The impact of broadband has been similar to that of the national highway system in the 1950s. Until then, our nation’s roads were slow and the quality was unpredictable, which hindered commerce and travel. The modern highway system made our country accessible and in the process, created new industries — transforming our economy and by extension, our society…

Increasing our broadband speeds to 100 Mbps from the current U.S. median of 2.3 Mbps will have a transformative effect on our economy and our society. High-speed networking enables new human collaboration at a profound level, and such collaboration will radically change the way we think.

The inevitable comparison with South Korea is made. They’re averaging access at home of 49mbps.

The chuckle for me is that Korea’s broadband development was kicked off by an American consultant hired by their government almost a decade ago. Alvin Toffler [.pdf].

Thanks to Om