Arrest Made in Cisco Source Code Theft
Police in the U.K. have arrested a man in connection with the theft of source code from networking equipment maker Cisco Systems in May, a Scotland Yard spokesperson confirms.
The Metropolitan Police Computer Crime Unit searched residences in Manchester, England, and Derbyshire, England, on September 3, confiscated computer equipment, and arrested a 20-year-old man suspected of committing "hacking offenses" under that country's Computer Misuse Act of 1990. While authorities could not discuss the specifics of the case, the arrest was linked to the Cisco source code, according to Julie Prinsep, a Yard spokesperson.
The suspect has since been released on bail and is scheduled to appear before authorities at a London police station again in November, Prinsep says. Computer equipment seized in the searches is being forensically examined, she says.
In an e-mail statement, a Cisco spokesperson says the company is encouraged that an arrest was made in the case.
"As we have previously reported, we are continuing to cooperate with law enforcement agencies on this matter . . . . We view the arrest as what will likely be one of many steps in this matter. We will take every measure to protect our intellectual property," the spokesperson says.
The arrest marks a major breakthrough in the case, which involves the posting of more than 800MB of source code from Cisco's Internetwork Operating System to a Russian Web site in May.
IOS is a proprietary operating system that runs on much of the networking hardware that Cisco makes.
Malicious hackers made off with code for version 12.3 of IOS after the thief compromised a Sun Microsystems server on Cisco's network, then briefly posted a link to the source code files on a file server belonging to the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, according to Alexander Antipov, a security expert at Positive Technologies, a security consulting company in Moscow.
Antipov says he downloaded more than 15MB of the stolen code after an individual using the online name "Franz" briefly posted a link to a 3MB compressed version of the files in a private Internet Relay Chat forum in May.
The link provided was only available for approximately ten minutes and pointed to a file on an FTP server, which belongs to the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. That server is open to the public for hosting files smaller than 5MB, according to the University's Web page.
Antipov subsequently posted some of that code on a Russian security Web site to call attention to the reported theft, but denied knowing Franz.
At the time, Cisco said it was working with the FBI to pursue the hackers. The FBI was not able to comment on the arrest.
The arrest in the Cisco theft follows other recent successes in cybercrime cases. In June, the FBI announced arrests in the source code theft for a much-anticipated version of the popular computer game Half-Life from the network of game maker Valve.
In May, German police arrested men in connection with creating the Sasser Internet worm and a Trojan horse program called Agobot. On September 9, prosecutors in Verden, Germany, indicted an 18-year-old student in the Sasser worm case.