Cybersecurity

Report: Juniper breach has feds worried

Shutterstock image (by adhike): hacker over a screen with binary code.

A big breach at computer networking firm Juniper Networks has federal officials fearing that foreign spies had access to the encrypted communications of the U.S. government and private firms for the last three years, according to a CNN report.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company announced Dec. 17 that it had discovered unauthorized code in its operating software that could allow a "knowledgeable attacker" to gain administrative access to its firewall and decrypt virtual private network connections. The advisory said Juniper had not received reports of the vulnerabilities being exploited.

"Once we identified these vulnerabilities, we launched an investigation and worked to develop and issue patched releases for the impacted devices," Juniper CIO Bob Worrall said in a statement. "We also reached out to affected customers, strongly recommending that they update their systems and apply the patched releases with the highest priority."

An FBI spokesperson declined to confirm to FCW that there is an ongoing FBI investigation into the breach, as the CNN report states. A Juniper spokesperson also declined to answer a question about any ongoing federal investigation.

Computer scientist and cryptrography expert Matt Blaze said on Twitter that, "If nothing else, Juniper deserves credit for being forthcoming that there was a backdoor, and not just quietly rolling out a patch."

The Department of Defense is among Juniper Networks’ big federal customers; dozens of Juniper products are on the Defense Information Systems Agency's Unified Capabilities Approved Product List.

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.


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