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Firewall Company Palo Alto Buys Stealthy Startup Formed By Ex-NSAers 102

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the insert-conspiracy-theory-here dept.
alphadogg writes "Next-generation firewall maker Palo Alto Networks today announced its first acquisition, an intriguing buyout of a stealthy Mountain View start-up called Morta Security whose founders hail from the NSA. The price of the purchase was not disclosed. Morta that has been in stealth mode since 2012 and describes its founders as 'executives and engineers from the National Security Agency.' CEO Raj Shahsays he worked in the Air Force Reserve supporting the NSA. 'We have deep experience in protecting our national infrastructure,' he says. (Curious to see if more startups will start marketing their NSA heritage...)"
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Firewall Company Palo Alto Buys Stealthy Startup Formed By Ex-NSAers

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  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Monday January 06, 2014 @11:07PM (#45884275)

    Hmmm, maybe I'll *not* buy their firewall...

    • Sonicwall offers a Network Security Appliance firewall. I can hear their marketing department: "NSA? That spells security!" Good luck with that today.

    • maybe I'll convince people I DON'T LIKE to buy their firewalls....

      • by Aighearach (97333)

        Most of my clients need to buy these things. Lots of them. So me and my friends have $ to buy some open hardware.

    • by Obijon70 (2755699)
      Now, now, Im sure the products they offer will be 100% safe and backdoor proof. Boy that was hard to type with out it getting stuck in my throat...
    • Why not? It probably comes stock listening on TCP port 32764.

      1. Buy firewall.
      2. Setup sniffer.
      3. Make questionably threatening statements on phone.
      4. Capture traffic on firewall WAN.

      Wallah! Instant keys to palace to credit card, banking industry, anything that uses RSA security, probably oil company's too!

      • Wallah!

        It's "voilà".

        • But it's gotta be better than trolling the NSA about an email you accidentally deleted and know they have a copy of!

        • by sconeu (64226)

          That's what he said. He's just Chekov.

        • by skegg (666571)

          Wallah!

          It's "voilà".

          He could have been quoting Arabic ... in which case that word fits quite well.
          (However I agree he probably meant "voila".)

          • Walla! definition
            [w l]
            and Wala!; Wallah!; Viola!

            Voila!
            And there you have it! (All versions are misspellings or misunderstandings of the French The Viola! is a well-meant spelling error.) : exclam. , And walla! There it is. Cooked just right!

            Wallah comes from the phonetic pronunciation of the french word viola. Wallah is an exclamation, it simply means “look at this”.

            Now if we could just get the NSA to put this level of critical thinking

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 06, 2014 @11:11PM (#45884309)

    remote access for the NSA

  • by exomondo (1725132) on Monday January 06, 2014 @11:12PM (#45884323)

    > whose founders hail from the NSA

    > CEO Raj Shahsays he worked in the Air Force Reserve supporting the NSA

    They aren't really the same thing now are they?

    • CEO Raj Shahsays he worked in the Air Force Reserve supporting the NSA

      They aren't really the same thing now are they?

      Either way it's not really a good selling point.

    • Nope. Keyword is supporting.

      For instance, I know a lot of BAH employees that are Reserve troops, they don't support, but basically are contractors.

      Heck in the end, it's a silicon valley company. They'll say anything to get a buck or free advertising nowadays.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      according to this article
      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/23/technology/the-pentagon-as-start-up-incubator.html [nytimes.com]

      he was an air force pilot, iam sure some of the real Air force guys here can verify that he did indeed serve, wonder what company he was in ?

      so many liars and fakers you gotta be careful

      • by hubie (108345)

        he was an air force pilot, iam sure some of the real Air force guys here can verify that he did indeed serve

        300,000 people in the Air Force. That's like finding out what state someone is from, then saying "hey, my friend Bill is from that state. Maybe you know him?"

    • > whose founders hail from the NSA

      > CEO Raj Shahsays he worked in the Air Force Reserve supporting the NSA

      They aren't really the same thing now are they?

      Hmm, you've landed upon Slashdot rather roughly. Yep, you've entered English text, so that works, but it's plainly obvious you're not from this planet. Right?
      No worries, you're among friends -- takes one to know one, and all that -- better luck next time, though.
      Now, if you do want to survive you'll need to read this crasher-course [bell-labs.com] to get acquainted with some basics about UNIX, compilers, and the state of Earther computer security.

      Quite a painless tutorial, as acceptance speeches go, eh? Now, in addition

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Hang out in Maryland sometime and you will find out that yes, they really are the same thing. Many of the NSA civilian employees are former Air Force. They are trained by the government and then "move up" to the civilian positions where there aren't the same pay grade restrictions. Anyone who has worked in U.S. government in the last decade knows the real money is in "consulting".
  • by dbIII (701233) on Monday January 06, 2014 @11:16PM (#45884353)
    When there is corruption you need to employ a former "insider" before your bids on contracts are even looked at.
    Why do you think people like the person that lost the White House emails is employable by a data recovery company?
  • Waitwhat. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Johann Lau (1040920) on Monday January 06, 2014 @11:25PM (#45884445) Homepage Journal

    We have deep experience in protecting our national infrastructure

    I beg your pardon? This coming from the fuckwits who insist on just about everything having unfixed holes and/or backdoors? Unless by "deep experience" they are referring to having their heads up their asses, I call BS.

    What do you think would increase security more, in the long run - firewalls by the NSA, or firing squads for the NSA? Sad thing is, what starts out as a polemic rhetorical question is actually not that easy to answer, now is it.

    • Re:Waitwhat. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ArchieBunker (132337) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @12:30AM (#45884761) Homepage

      I'd call that deep experience. Most people suspected them of having some hidden backdoors or listening powers but no one had proof. I'd call their campaign pretty successful until Edward Snowden blew the doors open.

      • Would you call that deep experience in securing systems, or rather deep experience in not securing them, even actively making them weaker, and not talking about that fact? It's like saying a butcher has deep experience about what animals need to be alive; technically true, but that doesn't make a butcher a great veterinarian.

        • by ZouPrime (460611)

          The NSA does both. Beyond their SIGINT operations, they also support industries in various security initiatives.

          • by sir-gold (949031)

            They only "supported" those security initatives so that they could install backdoors in them. Stuff like the Dual_EC_DRBG random number specification from NIST that isn't actually random.

            "....the Dual_EC_DRBG, like many algorithms, relies on parameters labelled P and Q for security. These could be randomly generated; however, the actual choice of P and Q were dictated by those involved in the design of the algorithm — the NSA."

            • by ZouPrime (460611)

              While what the NSA did with Dual_EC_DRBG is shit, no, it's not the only way they support civilian infrastructure. NSA provide all kind information security expertise, not just with encryption.

              • by sir-gold (949031)

                Asking the NSA for advice on information security is like asking a convicted burglar for advice on locks. Sure, he is probably expertly qualified to tell you which locks are the hardest to break, but will he act in your best interest?

        • I'd say if you can sneak in that back door -- you are going to have a good talent for preventing back doors.

          Only, with ethics like this -- I don't have any sympathy for anyone procuring the services of this company if they find they've got a backdoor engineered into their system.

          Providing and protecting from the same threats is a profitable business model; just ask the weapons industry.

    • One of the number one software purchases for people who use Windows computers is something to protect them from viruses and trojan horses.

      If the number one source of profits for exploits and protection from exploits is from former NSA employees, it stands to reason that there will be a feedback mechanism maintaining exploits and backdoors at the NSA. For "security" reasons of course -- not just for profit.

    • >> Silicon Valley-based Morta Security has been operating in "stealth mode," meaning it has not disclosed much information about itself in order to avoid alerting competitors about a product or other activity.

      From here [yahoo.com]

  • by Swampash (1131503) on Monday January 06, 2014 @11:33PM (#45884493)

    That has any past connection, through staff or projects, with the NSA is now about as popular as cancer.

  • Well, that's better. Why bother pretending to be something other than a paid-off PR/click-bait site?
  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @12:07AM (#45884647) Homepage Journal

    "Morta" in Italian means, "dead man".

    Draw your own conclusions.

    Forget Left and Right, Liberal or Conservative, Republican or Democrat. We are all enemies of the State now. It's starting to look like those divisions have just been artificially put in place in order to make us easier to control. When we're fighting each other, we're not paying attention to the real bad guys. And the bad guys goal is to take everything. If you're not part of the financial/political elite, you're not in the car, you're standing on the side of the road.

    Nothing can really get better - not one thing - unless we deal with this security apparatus in a lasting way. It makes us less secure, poorer and sliding down the economic scale. And today, Janet Yellin was installed as the new bursar for this apparatus, in charge of siphoning wealth to the very few.

    • " We are all enemies of the State now. It's starting to look like those divisions have just been artificially put in place in order to make us easier to control. When we're fighting each other, we're not paying attention to the real bad guys."

      I disagree and strongly. People argue as much as ever. The NSA doesn't give a crap about your Facebook page or your dramatic political rant on Slashdot with conspiracy sprinkles and mint frosting. There are more political rants than ever and the availability and fr
      • by Bert64 (520050)

        Because if you deny people the freedom to rant, then they will still do so but hide their actions and you lose track of them...

        If you give people the freedom to rant in public then you know exactly who is saying what, and you can keep track of them as well as anyone who listens to them. Also the apparent freedom acts to placate some who might want to rant.
        If anyone's opposing views ever become too widespread it is much easier to keep them under control and discredit them if you know exactly who they are.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947)

        I disagree and strongly. People argue as much as ever.

        Sure, but isn't it interesting that the US, for example, has become so precisely a 50-50 nation? Every election is close, congress so evenly split, all political media promoting division.

        I think the biggest worry of the 1% is that the Occupy people and the Tea Party people and the union people and the poor people will all realize that they have very similar interests in the things that matter most: economics.

        It's also interesting the way all the big div

    • Actually, morta would be referring to the feminine, dead man is uomo morto.

    • by tomhath (637240)
      There's an old saying: "Dead men tell no tales".
  • What a great way to save on $10 million dollar backdoor fees - have your ex-employees build the devices themselves!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Not fooled.

  • by Luke has no name (1423139) <fox&cyberfoxfire,com> on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @12:17AM (#45884691)

    People who don't actually work in cybersecurity.

  • Surely the NSA have a number of means of bypassing the firewall by now ...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Good evening Mr. Sir, I am being your Microsofts supporting person. My name is being Raj Shah and I am being afraid I must inform you that your Windows is being having a virus..."

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Hey you forgot to include "Oh blimey, goodness gracious me!" to round out the racist stereotype.

  • What's the big deal? I mean, do you think Wernher von Braun's later work was bad just because his former boss wasn't the nicest guy in the world?

    • you can build rockets for hitler, or you can build rockets for truman. they're both still rockets. you can test the rocket, make sure it works, you can separate the creator of the tech from the tech

      but security is not like that. it's an ongoing trust relationship. you have to trust the people involved

      and if your previous job was secretly sabotaging all security to a govt, this is probably not someone you want to trust your company's security to. when the NSA breaches your system, they have an ally already i

  • So now, instead of paying 10 mil to "security companies" and having all those nasty paper trails, the NSA just implants its ex-employees in those same "security companies" so that they can add backdoors by hand? That... is actually a pretty good idea, because it gives them a broader reach and is more cost effective.
  • Not stealthy enough apparently. Rumor also has it that they are going to sell human sized fly-paper traps that way the ex-NSA-ers could stick it to the man.

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