Cisco accused of staging cyber attacks against Multiven

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Network management vendor Multiven has filed a complaint with the US Department of Justice and the Swiss Cybercrime Coordination Unit, accusing rival Cisco of launching several attacks against its servers.

Multiven claims that on at least four separate occasions between December 2009 and January 2010, Cisco used automated cyber scraping software to steal thousands of proprietary and copyrighted data files from its knowledge base,

The company further claims the quantity of requests involved in the attack, 53,000, caused its own services to degrade.

Multiven said once the first attack was identified and blocked by its cybersecurity team, the firewall continued to log packets coming from the blocked IP address and that another two IP addresses subsequently joined the attack.

All of the originating IP addresses are assigned to Cisco, Multiven alleges.

This is yet another false accusation from Multiven, and we strongly reject this claim

Peter Alfred-Adekeye, CEO of Multiven, said: "Based on the fact that the source IP addresses of these systematic and premeditated theft of Multiven's intellectual propertyoriginated from Cisco's headquarters in San Jose, California, it is clear that Cisco CEO John T. Chambers and General Counsel Mark Chandler or people under their control instigated these thefts.

"Per standard operating procedure, we have reported these breaches to law enforcement but we will refrain from seeking a civil redress if Cisco issues a public apology immediately and the assurance that none of the stolen data has been used for its advantage and it has now all been deleted."

This is not the first time Multiven has clashed with Cisco in the courts. In 2008, the company filed an antitrust lawsuit in California against the firm, alleging Cisco forced its customers to buy the Cisco SMARTnet service plan if the company wanted to get software updates - an allegation denied by Cisco.

The case became well known when, during a deposition hearing at a Vancouver hotel Alfred-Adekeye was arrested on an extradition warrent from the USA for allegedly accessing Cisco's computer systems and illegally entering the United States. The same warrent also claimed he was of unknown nationality and a flight risk, which led to him being kept in custody for a month.

The case was thrown out in 2011 by British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Ronald McKinnon, who said he was shocked a $14,000 civil suit had turned into criminal case. He also sais US officials acted outrageously in having Alfred-Adekeye arrested while giving his deposition statement.

"It speaks volumes for Cisco's duplicity," McKinnon said, adding "It is simply not done in a civilized jurisdiction that is bound by the rule of law."

Cisco settled the antitrust suit with Multiven in July 2010.

In response to Multiven's latest claims, a Cisco spokesperson told IT Pro: "This is yet another false accusation from Multiven, and we strongly reject this claim. The only access that Cisco has ever had to Multiven content is through its website, which is readily available to the general public.

"Further, it's important to note that Multiven's CEO is currently under federal indictment in the US for behavior - including stealing Cisco software in violation of the federal Anti-Hacking Statute - similar to their own accusations."

Multiven, however, contests Cisco's points, accusing the company of obfuscation.

"The data stolen by Cisco between December 2009 and January 2010 was publicly available but not for mass theft using cyber-scraping software. There is a clear and legal difference between a casual viewing of a public website by an individual and a systemic automated mass scraping by a corporation of every file that composes a website in a matter of seconds," Mulitven told IT Pro.

"The undeniable facts of these thefts by Cisco are clearly laid out ... in the official complaint to DoJ and Swiss Authorities hence our taking the unprecedented step of reporting them to law enforcement."

With regard to the accusation that Alfred-Adekeye is under indictment for hacking, Multiven said: "Cisco's orchestrated 'indictment' in response to Multiven's landmark antitrust lawsuit against Cisco has been shown to be a sham and a blatant abuse of process whereby Cisco attempted, and failed, to criminalize competition in order to derail and discredit Multiven's antitrust lawsuit...

"As stated by the Honourable Mr Justice McKinnon ... in his ruling ' the criminal complaint mirrors the civil complaint, and the only reasonable inference I can draw from the facts is that the criminal process was used to (unsuccessfully) pressure [Alfred-Adekeye] into abandoning his antitrust suit against Cisco.'

"Multiven has not stolen information from Cisco and these accusations are false, groundless and have never been raised previously, unlike Multiven's case where the cyber-attacks were reported to Cisco's lead legal counsel Patrick Ryan of Winston and Strawn and ceased shortly afterwards when Multiven suggested that if Cisco did not cease its action it would be reported to the FBI."

Jane McCallion
Managing Editor

Jane McCallion is ITPro's Managing Editor, specializing in data centers and enterprise IT infrastructure. Before becoming Managing Editor, she held the role of Deputy Editor and, prior to that, Features Editor, managing a pool of freelance and internal writers, while continuing to specialize in enterprise IT infrastructure, and business strategy.

Prior to joining ITPro, Jane was a freelance business journalist writing as both Jane McCallion and Jane Bordenave for titles such as European CEO, World Finance, and Business Excellence Magazine.