By Andy Sullivan and Niklas Pollard
WASHINGTON/STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Cisco Systems Inc. said on Tuesday
authorities in Sweden had detained a person for stealing its source
code, the basic instructions for the machines that direct Internet
traffic around the globe.
"We are aware that a person has been detained in Sweden related to the
IOS source code theft and are encouraged by this action," the San
Jose, California, company said in a statement.
Swedish police have declined to say whether their investigation of a
16-year-old boy is related to a May 2004 incident that exposed the
inner workings of Cisco's Internetworking Operating System, or IOS.
Police in Uppsala, a university town north of Stockholm, said on
Tuesday they had been contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation
about a teenager already in trouble with the law in Sweden for
allegedly hacking into university computers.
Swedish police said the teenager, whom they would not identify by
name, had been questioned about hacker attacks on Uppsala University
computers, but had not been arrested.
"We have not received any formal request from (U.S. authorities) to
question or apprehend the 16-year-old," Uppsala police spokesman
Christer Nordstrom said. "But I can confirm that there has been an
exchange of information with the FBI."
The New York Times reported that the Cisco theft was part of a broader
hacking campaign that targeted computer systems run by
U.S. universities and government agencies.
Several supercomputer labs in April 2004 reported that computers
connected to the high-speed TeraGrid network had been breached.
A spokeswoman for the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico
confirmed that the facility had experienced an intrusion around the
time that Cisco reported its breach, but said no sensitive information
"Basically, they got into some local weather forecasts," spokeswoman
Monte Marlin said.
Source code, the underlying blueprint of computer software, determines
how programs work. Companies like Microsoft Corp. zealously guard
their source code because they consider it the lifeblood of their
Cisco said last May that portions of its IOS source code had been
copied from its internal systems and posted on a foreign Web site for
several days, where presumably other hackers could examine it closely
for security flaws. The company said at the time that the breach
would not put customers' equipment at risk.
The FBI said in a statement it had been working with authorities in
Sweden and Great Britain to track down the culprit. "As a result of
recent actions, the criminal activity appears to have stopped," it
Authorities in Great Britain arrested a 20-year-old man last September
in connection with the Cisco hacking, but no charges have been filed.
(Additional reporting by Reuters Stockholm bureau)
Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.
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