US investigates Blue Coat over Syria filter claims

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US investigates Blue Coat over Syria filter claims
Image credit: Blue Coat

Security firm denies claims.

 

The US State Department has launched an investigation into whether web proxies made by security firm Blue Coat are being used by the Syrian government to monitor and filter its citizens' web searches.

The investigation comes as Swedish hacker activists at Telecomix recently leaked 54 gigabytes of log file data, purportedly showing that Blue Coat equipment was being used by Syrian authorities. The files can found on several mirrored sites.

The activists claimed the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment had 15 Blue Coat SG9000 proxies connected to its backbone network. It also alleged others currently in use were supplied by German security firm, Fortinet.

US sanctions against Syria in place since 2004 forbid US companies selling equipment to the nation, however it has been speculated that Syria may have acquired Blue Coat’s equipment via a third party in a different nation.  

An State Department official earlier this week told the Washington Times, it was “very concerned” about claims. The department has since confirmed it is "monitoring the facts".  

If Syria is using Blue Coat equipment, the firm itself would almost certainly be delivering maintenance services, according to security analyst Bruce Schneier.

“Bet you anything that the Syrian Blue Coat products are registered, and that they receive all the normal code and filter updates,” he said in blog post Monday.

Blue Coat has denied it or its resellers had sold its equipment to Syria and claimed the logs showed no evidence that its equipment was in use.

“Blue Coat does not sell to Syria and neither do we provide any kind of technical support, professional services or software maintenance. To our knowledge, we do not have any customers in Syria,” Blue Coat spokesperson Steve Schick said soon after the allegations were first made.
“We do not allow any of our resellers, regardless of their location in the world, to sell to an embargoed country, such as Syria.”

Despite multiple references in the logs to Blue Coat IP addresses, Schick said that the company saw no “firm evidence” its equipment was in Syria.

Blue Coat warned in its SEC disclosures to investors that it is at risk of reputational damage if its customers are discovered using its products to abuse personal rights.

 

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