Juniper Networks backdoor confirmed, password revealed, NSA suspected

Yet another reason to be deeply concerned for privacy. The NSA or some other agency has embedded a backdoor into the firewalls that ‘protect’ a great many organizations, allowing them (and now the whole world) to decrypt supposedly private communications, virtually undetectably and at will.

This kind of vulnerability might affect any closed-source product, but it is particularly worrying when it exists at such a crucial node in the network infrastructure. AU’s own VPN has been moving across to Juniper’s Junos Pulse over the past month or two, and AU has been increasingly shifting to closed-source, proprietary products from US companies (and, in the case of email and webinars, using services that are actually based in the US). This is a truly terrible idea. Open source products are not invulnerable to such manipulation, but the chances of finding flaws are at least thousands of times greater than in closed-source products like this, and it is possible for individuals to fix them, no matter how old the product. Given other open-source advantages like vendor-independence, control, capacity to be altruistic, and innate flexibility, it is hard to understand why anyone would entrust their network infrastructure to a proprietary, closed-source company.

Address of the bookmark:

I am a professional learner, employed as a Full Professor and Associate Dean, Learning & Assessment, at Athabasca University, where I research lots of things broadly in the area of learning and technology, and I teach mainly in the School of Computing & Information Systems. I am a proud Canadian, though I was born in the UK. I am married, with two grown-up children, and three growing-up grandchildren. We all live in beautiful Vancouver.

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