Cisco Investigating Potential Source Code Theft

"Cisco is aware that a potential compromise of its proprietary information occurred and was reported on a public Web site just prior to the weekend. Cisco is fully investigating what happened," said a statement issued by the San Jose, Calif.-based company. "As a matter of policy, we take security very seriously and we continue to take every measure to protect our intellectual property, employee and customer information. Cisco will remain focused on its customers and their success and will continue to monitor the situation," the company said.

A Russian-language Web site,, reported on Saturday that as much as 800 Mbytes of code from version 12.3 of Cisco's Internetwork Operating System (IOS) was stolen from the company. Some pieces of what is purported to be part of the Cisco source code were posted on the Russian site.

If true, such a breach could threaten the security of customers' Cisco infrastructure, said John Freres, president of Meridian IT Solutions, a Schaumburg, Ill.-based solution provider.

"The most immediate impact is that getting the source code out there will provide a field day for all the hackers," Freres said.

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To help protect its customers, Meridian IT Solutions recommends implementing all available Cisco patches and updates, and turning off any IOS services they are not using, he said. The company also offers an infrastructure hardening service that makes sure IOS holes are plugged.

Despite all the emphasis on security these days, businesses often overlook network infrastructure as a potential source of vulnerability, focusing instead on keeping up-to-date with patches from Microsoft, Freres said.

"We stress that infrastructure is just as important," Freres said.