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Cisco sets ex-CIA spook to hunt down leaking staffer

You can run, but you can't hide

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Updated Cisco appears to be rather annoyed that one of its staff has been leaking memos to the press, and its vice president of global labs (and former CIA operative) Michael Quinn has sent a chilling email to staff warning he will hunt down the culprit.

"The person or persons whom felt it was cool or correct to share this internal memo should now have the intestinal fortitude to stand up and admit that they did this, then resign," he said. "Now I know you do not have it in you to stand up and admit what you did, so I will now make you my 'hobby.' Ask around you will find out that I like to work on my hobbies."

The fracas kicked off after a report last month that Cisco had lost a ten-year contract with California State University after its bid to upgrade the campus networks. The contract was won by Alcatel-Lucent, who put in a bid for $22m, compared to the offer from the incumbent Cisco of $122m, according to university staff.

After the news broke, two Cisco executives who worked on the deal sent out an internal memo to staff denying that the proposed contract fee was almost six times the cost of the competition. The two said that they had been closely involved in the deal and didn’t recognize the figures involved, despite the fact that those figures came from CSU's IT department, which had reviewed the contracts.

"The alleged cost savings reported in the press are not at all familiar to those with detailed knowledge of the customer and their RFP process," the memo states. "We believe they are based on extrapolation of sample configurations and standard pricing, with no consideration of the value inherent in real world TCO, Cisco product capabilities, and Cisco's technical services and support."

The memo, marked "Internal Use Only" was then leaked to Brad Reese, an ex-military sysadmin who writes a blog on all things Cisco. This leakage got Michael Quinn sufficiently riled up to send out the warning email, which was promptly also leaked to Reese.

From the tone of what he said, Quinn is exceptionally pissed off. He reminds staff that "Cisco puts the groceries on your table every two weeks, not Brad Reese or other Slander Sheet Journalists," and vows to find the mole, no matter what their rank within the company.

Before joining Cisco, Quinn spent seven years as a CIA operations officer in the 1980s, a time when the CIA didn’t exactly cover itself with glory by funding Contra guerrillas in Nicaragua and selling arms to Iran.

For the record, Mr. Quinn, this is how you really threaten someone. ®

Update

Cisco has sent El Reg the following statement:

"Mike Quinn's statement reflected his passion, not an official corporate communication. Nonetheless, his comments reflect a legitimate concern about those who work at Cisco yet seek to damage the company. There are many appropriate channels to report concerns internally and externally if there are issues. Sending confidential communications to a blog site isn't one of them."

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