NSA able to compromise Cisco, Juniper, Huawei switches

Dobbins, Roland rdobbins at arbor.net
Tue Dec 31 04:28:03 UTC 2013

On Dec 31, 2013, at 10:38 AM, Sabri Berisha <sabri at cluecentral.net> wrote:

> Assuming M/MX/T series, you are correct that the foundation of the control-plane is a FreeBSD-based kernel.

And the management plane, too?

> However, that control-plane talks to a forwarding-plane (PFE). The PFE runs Juniper designed ASICs (which differ per platform and sometimes per line-card). In general, transit-traffic (traffic that enters the PFE and is not destined to the router itself), will not be forwarded via the control-plane.

These same concepts apply to most Cisco gear, as well.

> Another option would be to duplicate target traffic into a tunnel (GRE or IPIP based for example), but that would certainly have a noticeable affect on the performance, if it is possible to perform those operations at all on the target chipset.

Something along these lines would be a good guess, along with the ability to alter the config of the device and to mask said alteration.  Other purported documents speak of tunneling duplicated traffic, and in fact we've seen tunnels on compromised routers + NAT used by spammers in conjunction with BGP hijacking in order to send out spam-bursts from allocated space (i.e., the precise opposite use-case, heh).

Assuming these alleged documents describe actual capabilities, there is some reason for having developed them in the first place.

Roland Dobbins <rdobbins at arbor.net> // <http://www.arbornetworks.com>

	  Luck is the residue of opportunity and design.

		       -- John Milton

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