August 6, 2005

Shame on Cisco

Posted in Commentary at 8:53 am by Michael Sweeney Media

Now that the dust has mostly settled from the Blackhats vs. Cisco in Vegas it might be good to take a look at the whole situation. The very short version is that someone (Mike Lynn) was going to give a presentation about a hole in Cisco’s IOS. The presentation had been vetted months earlier by his employer (which should win Scum of the Year award) and Cisco. Hours before the show, Cisco got cold feet, threaten ISS which then turned on their own employee, poor Mike. “DO NOT GIVE THIS PRESENTATION” announced the gods from on high. Mike, on the other hand, bit the hand that fed him (note the past tense) and quit so as a free agent he could give the presentation. At this point, all hell broke loose. Cisco should get the award of being the biggest asshole company this year, pushing Microsoft aside for a change. If Mike had stolen the code, given away the full exploit etc, I could see all that happened but he didnt, he played by the rules and got dumped on.

A very good blog on this with details comes from his lawyer at The Shout where she details her adventures with Cisco, ISS and the Feds. It makes for very interesting reading and I highly recommend it to anyone involved in security work. You really, really want someone like her on your side.

Now, how does this relate to my Mac adventures? Not directly but Apple’s history of using the big stick to get their way is legendary and they are a hair away from being in the same boat as Cisco and ISS. You dont need the big stick alot of the times and you certainly dont need to bully people most of the time. Just because you have the 16 inch cannon doesnt mean you need to use it when the bb gun works just fine. The whole deal lately about dual booting OSX Intel and Windows on the dev boxes comes to mind. Is it legal? Maybe.. is it worth the bad PR of Apple threating people over it? No, it’s not in the big picture. Anyone in Apple who didnt think this would happen as soon as the DVD and PC was shipped out is an idiot and doesnt belong working in a high tech company. Geeks are geeks and there is not a way to change that. So to act surprised and then to be offended that someone had the audacity to do this is just plain stupid on their part. And lets be real, if Apple really wanted the developers not to do this, they should have made CLEAR from the beginning, not buried it in a bunch of legal mumbojumbo where it is still not clear.

Apple has forgotten and still forgets that some of their best ideas have come from the outside or even from people on the inside who were laughed at, belittled and ignored. Can we spell iPod? That was not the brainchild of Jobs nor his inner circle of sycophants (parasites for those who do not know the word). It came from a guy who really thought was cool but it was never going to be practical. He had shopped the idea to a couple of other companies before Apple but it was Apple who took the chance. The graphing calculator with every Mac is another darkhorse project that Apple tried to kill several times and through hook and crook it saw the light of day. Jobs would do well to put his personal ego aside briefly and listen to the people that made Apple great for a change. The hackers, the creative unsung heros that develope kick assed utilities for the Mac, the users who need to live in the real world of multi platform support and others. They might have some really good ideas if they could ever get past the lawyers and parasites.

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