Cisco Brings FBI Into Source Code Theft Investigation

"Cisco will continue to take every measure to protect our intellectual property, employee and customer information. In this case, Cisco is working with the FBI on this matter," the company said in a statement, referring further questions about the agency's involvement to the FBI.

When reached for comment, an FBI spokesman was unable to provide much information on the case.

"We became aware of it. We are assisting Cisco in the investigation of a possible theft of proprietary data," said Paul Bresson, a spokesman in the FBI press office.

Bresson declined to divulge when Cisco asked for the agency's help or other details about the investigation, citing confidentiality concerns.

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Without confirming whether or not the theft took place, Cisco Monday said it was investigating a report that source code had been stolen.

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 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.