Drama erupts over Cisco exploit but users stay loyal

Despite a week of high drama as furores erupt over Cisco's IOS router exploit, Australian IT managers said they will stick with the networking giant.

Cisco has been in the spotlight after a presentation at the Black Hat conference revealed how unpatched Cisco routers can be remotely compromised.

When it comes to the enterprise, Cisco dominates.

Moreover, Cisco.com was recently compromised by hackers forcing the networking vendor to ask customers to reset their usernames and passwords to gain access to the site.

While Cisco has not said how many accounts were affected, in a statement the company said, "because of a large number of requests, registered Cisco.com users may experience delays in receiving new passwords."

The company, which learnt about the problem last week from a third-party security research organization, has emphasized that the incident did not appear to be linked to a weakness in Cisco products or technologies.

The attack came at a time when Cisco was trying to hose down the Black Hat revelations by former Internet Security Systems researcher Michael Lynn. Despite all the drama, IT managers said they aren't worried about the occasional glitch.

Tweed Shire Council CIO Russ Merry said overall there were few problems with Cisco.

"I've sometimes heard about these sorts of vulnerabilities, but we only use some of its switches, we don't have any of its software," he added. Brisbane Boys College director of IT, Afzal Shariff, said Cisco has been keeping customers informed.

"We always get the updates from Cisco, but these sorts of incidents don't really change our opinion because Cisco is a good product, with a good level of service and support," Shariff said.

"These sorts of occurrences can never be a one-off, they patch things and then will uncover another problem, it's just like the bugs with Microsoft.

"The only reason I would move away from it is because of the cost. We're a school provider and on a tight budget, but we stick with Cisco because we are comfortable with its gear and with the company."

However, despite Shariff's positive outlook on the networking provider, he does take these sorts of threats seriously.

"We rate these sorts of incidents as very high in importance in regards to our infrastructure, so if there is vulnerability we try and address it straight away," Shariff said.

But Canberra Girls Grammar School ICT manager John Freestone doesn't agree, rating such threats as very low in terms of the school's overall infrastructure.

"Depending on the level of notification we receive from Cisco about these sorts of flaws, I generally feel that we're kept informed about possible vulnerabilities," Freestone said.

"I accept that a company of this size would occasionally have these sorts of issues come up; it doesn't affect how I view the company."

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