British police arrest suspect in Cisco code theft

A man suspected of stealing source code from Cisco Systems has been arrested in the United Kingdom.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read
British authorities have arrested a man suspected of stealing source code from Cisco Systems in May, a spokeswoman for Scotland Yard confirmed Friday.

The 20-year-old man, who has not been identified, was arrested Sept. 3, after the Metropolitan Police Computer Crime Unit searched two residences in Manchester and Derbyshire. The man is suspected of committing "hacking offenses" under that country's Computer Misuse Act of 1990, said Julie Prinsep, a spokeswoman for Scotland Yard.

The suspect, who has not been charged with a crime yet, was released on bail and is scheduled to appear before authorities in a London police station in early November. Computer equipment seized in the searches is being forensically examined, Prinsep said.

"We are continuing to cooperate with law enforcement agencies on this matter," a Cisco representative said Friday. "And we are encouraged that an arrest has been made. 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 theft became public in May, when it was discovered that almost 800 megabytes of Cisco's Internetwork Operating System (IOS) source code had been posted to a Russian Web site. Cisco IOS is the crown jewel of the networking giant's product portfolio. It's used in all of Cisco's routing products.

News of Cisco's source code leak appeared on Russian security site SecurityLab.ru, owned by information protection specialist Positive Technologies, on May 15, two days after its administrators received the leaked source code. According to SecurityLab, online vandals had compromised Cisco's corporate network and the code. A person with the alias "Franz" bragged about the intrusion and posted about 2.5MB of code on the Internet relay chat system, not long after the alleged break-in.

At the time of the leak, Cisco confirmed that the United States' FBI was investigating. Security experts said attackers wouldn't be able to use the code easily and that they did not see it as a threat to Cisco's security.