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Threats Posed by Stolen Cisco Code?
Contributed by: G3nu1n3, at 11/07/2004 04:48:00 PM.

The Source Code Club's offer to sell stolen source code for Cisco's PIX firewall might pose some security risks to Cisco's customers. But the real damage is more likely to be to Cisco's reputation and bottom line.

Once again, hackers are trying to sell what they purport to be the source code for Cisco's PIX firewall. But it isn't clear that there's any threat posed to customers by the code. In fact, the only people who might benefit from the code are Cisco's competitors.

The "Source Code Club" is offering to sell the PIX code for $24,000. But it's not certain that anybody buying the code would be able to use it to find holes in the firewall software any more effectively than they could without it—unless they have significant software development and computing resources to examine the 37 MB of uncompiled code.

When some of the source code to Windows was stolen off a server at Mainsoft and released into the wild, many were concerned that it would mean hackers would quickly find new vulnerabilities in Windows and create "zero-day" exploits of the operating system—holes that Microsoft's customers would have no prior warning of. Those concerns turned out to be unfounded. That was at least partially because of the age of the code (it was for Windows NT 4.0) and its incomplete nature, but it was also because most of what hackers could learn from the code couldn't be exploited to circumvent security.

The firewall code stolen from Cisco is apparently more complete and more current than the exposed Windows code. But the fact is that the biggest risk that the missing software poses is to Cisco itself—and a large portion of that risk surrounds this story continuing to appear in the news.

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