Coalition Of Attorneys General Settle Multistate Lawsuit
NEW YORK CITY — A coalition of 19 Attorneys General have settled a multistate lawsuit against Cisco Systems Inc. concerning security surveillance system software sold to New York, a collection of other states and the federal government.
A whistleblower came forward under the False Claims Act to assert that Cisco’s software had major flaws rendering the system vulnerable to hackers, and that despite learning of the exposure, Cisco failed to report or remedy this security flaw for several years.
“Security camera software must be secure — it’s that simple,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. “Cisco’s failure to keep their software safe could have endangered the safety of New Yorkers across our state. We are holding the company accountable and will ensure that software manufacturers dealing with our state not only have the most secure software possible, but diligently report and repair any flaws they learn about. This is about our security, privacy and protection.”
In 2009, according to the action, Cisco discovered security flaws in a software product designed to control security camera systems sold to New York, multiple other states, and the federal government, but the company failed to report or remedy these flaws until 2013, and only after commencement of the investigation of the action.
The now-discontinued software contained flaws that would permit unauthorized access to the system, with the potential to control and otherwise manipulate security cameras and the recorded footage.
The investigation began after New York state — and the additional parties involved in the settlement — received information from a former Cisco employee who came forward as a whistleblower and filed an action under the federal False Claims Act, the New York False Claims Act, and whistleblower acts of the other states involved. The joint investigation uncovered no evidence that a hack or any unauthorized access of security surveillance systems ever took place.
The $6 million fine will be distributed among the plaintiff states, with a share for the whistleblower. The New York False Claims Act allows private persons to file civil actions on behalf of the government, and to share in any recovery. New York will receive $1.3 million of the total settlement payment.