Photos surfaced showing an NSA facility where Cisco routers get upgraded with spy software while on their way to customers. Cisco reacts.
Cisco has a problem with the NSA and the government. They are hurting their business. Why? The NSA has intercepted Cisco routers shipping to customers and have manipulated them to install backdoors. Photos have leaked in NSA documents released along the new Glenn Greenwald book "No Place to Hide." (Buy on Amazon)
The photos are from 2010 and show how NSA workers carefully open a sealed Cisco box. Another photo shows the work bench where the Cisco router get upgraded with a "beacon." After the upgrade the NSA repacked the router and sent it on to customer. See the photos on Ars Technica.
These photos are bad for Cisco. Their sales people now have to convince their customers that this is not going to happen anymore. There is no way of saying if the NSA is still doing this today.
Cisco's General Counsel Mark Chandler published an open letter asking the government to not interfere with the ability of companies to lawfully deliver internet infrastructure as ordered by their customers. Chandler acknowledges the tension between security and freedom, but citizens’ basic human rights need to be respected.