And the Journal surmises that it's possible spyware-infected computers ended up at the companies that have since acquired Nortel assets: Avaya Inc. , Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Genband Inc.
The break-in, apparently made possible through passwords stolen from executives, was discovered in 2004 and traced to IP addresses in China. Nortel never found out who the culprits were and never managed to patch the security hole, according to Brian Shields, a former Nortel employee who led the company's investigation.
The Journal also got in touch with former CEO Mike Zafirovski, who says the issue wasn't presented to him as that serious. Zafirovski doesn't think it's likely that Nortel's acquirers have inherited security holes, but the Journal talked to former Nortel IT staffers who say "a significant number of people continued to use Nortel laptops and desktop computers after moving to Avaya and Genband and connected them to those companies' networks."
The group of companies that bought Nortel's wireless patents would be unaffected by all this, unless these hackers were, like, the best ever.
Forgot who bought what from Nortel? Here's a refresher:
- Avaya's $900M Bid Wins Nortel Auction
- Ciena Beats NSN to Buy Nortel's MEN
- Nortel Wireless Winner: It's Ericsson!
- Genband Bids $282M for Nortel's VoIP Unit
— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading