​Who are you gonna trust?

  • David Gee (CSO Online)
  • 24 February, 2016 08:21

A few years ago there was noise about Huawei’s connections with the chinese military. The inference was that you can’t trust them and they may have some direct government ownership or connections.

The US House Intelligence Committee went as far labeled them “a threat to national security”. That’s a marketing nightmare for any company to handle.

Here in Australia we had concerns about Huawei being allowed into the NBN architecture. It’s interesting that Huawei Australia’s chairman is ex Australian Navy and their board also features an ex premier of Victoria.

We now have a China Free Trade Agreement (CHAFTA) in place - we can trade freely, but do we really trust you 100%?

Who left the Backdoor open?

Recent news is that Juniper Networks have a backdoor, the real question who left this open? It has been reported that the candidates are that this could be UK, China or even the American NSA.

It appears that a number of these parties were aware of the backdoor. Then the question is less about who created the portal but moreover who has used this facility and for what purposes?

The Juniper issue can be tracked back to 2012, specifically the vulnerability, is that an attacker is able to remote access to systems as an admin by using a hard coded password. Not a great thing!

More concerning is that as this code is within the firmware of the solution, where does that leave the average IT professional? Not picking on IT Security professionals but clearly this kit is selected by Network guys.

It just highlights to me how teams have to work together and that security and your dance partners are critical.

Open systems are better or are Closed systems are safer?

The other begging question is that where should be position our architecture. Taking the more open approach using Android, Linux etc and assuming that the more eyeballs will be able to pick up issues faster. Or stay in the walled gardens of iOS Apple, Microsoft etc where things are locked down.

Sorry but I’m not sure that there is an easy answer to this.

This becomes a philosophical discussion and at the end of the day, what matters is how this is executed and then maintained in a controlled fashion. Again that’s not particularly easy in an era of DevOps and pressure to always be in Beta.

CISCO to the rescue?

Perhaps not, as late this year we learnt that hackers had breached Cisco routers and taken over these devices. The firmware was replaced with this new upgrade.

Cisco, Huawei and Juniper the three guys we should and probably trust. What do these companies stand for? And it is their fault if others are attacking them??

Let me reflect on the meaning of the names of these companies:

Cisco means “freeman” – indeed a great name for an American company.

Huawei literally means “China's achievement", this would explain the suspicion that follows them around.

And Juniper are a coniferous plants that grow in high altitudes in places such as the Himalayas. They have been the competitors snapping at the heels of Cisco, but this latest news will potentially de-accelerate their ascent.

Oh, I hear you say ….what about Alcatel Lucent? It appears that they have been out of the headlines and also their name does not have funny meanings, so they escape for now.