It’s said the NSA drew up a report on what it learned after a foreign government exploited a weak encryption scheme, championed by the US spying agency, in Juniper firewall software.
However, curiously enough, the NSA has been unable to find a copy of that report.
On Wednesday, Reuters reporter Joseph Menn published an account of US Senator Ron Wyden’s efforts to determine whether the NSA is still in the business of placing backdoors in US technology products.
Wyden (D-OR) opposes such efforts because, as the Juniper incident demonstrates, they can backfire, thereby harming national security, and because they diminish the appeal of American-made tech products.
But Wyden’s inquiries, as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, have been stymied by lack of cooperation from the spy agency and the private sector. In June, Wyden and various colleagues sent a letter to Juniper CEO Rami Rahim asking about “several likely backdoors in its NetScreen line of firewalls.”
Juniper acknowledged in 2015 that “unauthorized code” had been found in ScreenOS, which powers its NetScreen firewalls. It’s been suggested that the code was in place since around 2008.
The Reuters report, citing a previously undisclosed statement to Congress from Juniper, claims that the networking biz acknowledged that “an unnamed national government had converted the mechanism first created by the NSA.”
Wyden staffers in 2018 were told by the NSA that a “lessons learned” report about the incident had been written. But Wyden spokesperson Keith Chu told Reuters that the NSA now claims it can’t find the file. Wyden’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The reason this malicious code was able to decrypt ScreenOS VPN connections has been attributed to Juniper’s “decision to use the NSA-designed Dual EC Pseudorandom Number Generator.”
After Snowden’s disclosures about the extent of US surveillance operations in 2013, the NSA is said to have revised its policies for compromising commercial products. Wyden and other lawmakers have tried to learn more about these policies but they’ve been stonewalled, according to Reuters.
And this is why you don’t put out insecure security products, which is exactly what products with a backdoor are. Here’s looking at you, UK and Australia and all the other countries trying to force insecure products on us.