Friday, June 23, 2017

Tech Companies Sell "Rope" To Russia

Western tech companies have agreed to demands by the Russian government to review the source codes for their cyber security products sold in Russia such as firewalls and anti-virus applications, ostensibly to assure Russia that Western intelligence agencies haven't planted any "backdoor" viruses or other means to infect their own security systems. This is certain to give Russian cyber experts valuable information about vulnerabilities in our own cyber security software systems at a time when we face cyber attacks -- political and economic -- from bad actors like Russia, North Korea and China. The tech companies include Cisco, IBM, Hewlett Packard, McAfee and SAP, who are eager to sell their products in the Russian market despite the obvious gift to Russian cyber intelligence officials:
"U.S. officials say they have warned firms about the risks of allowing the Russians to review their products' source code, because of fears it could be used in cyber attacks. But they say they have no legal authority to stop the practice unless the technology has restricted military applications or violates U.S. sanctions....The demands are being made by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), which the U.S. government says took part in the cyber attacks on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the 2014 hack of 500 million Yahoo email accounts. The FSB, which has denied involvement in both the election and Yahoo hacks, doubles as a regulator charged with approving the sale of sophisticated technology products in Russia." (emphasis added)
One U.S. company, Symantec, has refused to comply with Russia's demands. Last Monday, man-for-all-jobs Jared "Mr. Ivanka Trump" Kushner presided over a meeting of tech and communications executives, including Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM, and Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP. It would have been an opportune time for Kushner to have addressed that particular matter of complying with the demands of a hostile foreign power on the part of some present, but he likely doesn't see Russia as "hostile" to his business and family interests, much less his country's.

An old quote, variously attributed to Karl Marx, Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Lenin seems apt here:
“The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”

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