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F5 Networks secures NGNIX software builds as precaution after visit from Russian law enforcement

Geekwire logo Geekwire 12/16/2019 Todd Bishop
Igor Sysoev in a green shirt: Code created by NGINX co-founder Igor Sysoev is the subject of an intellectual property dispute in Russia. F5 Networks acquired NGINX for $670 million this year. (NGINX via YouTube) © Provided by Geekwire Code created by NGINX co-founder Igor Sysoev is the subject of an intellectual property dispute in Russia. F5 Networks acquired NGINX for $670 million this year. (NGINX via YouTube)

F5 Networks says it has taken steps to ensure the security of the master software builds for NGINX, the popular web server technology acquired earlier this year by the Seattle-based networking and security technology company, after Russian law enforcement officials visited the Moscow offices of NGINX on Dec. 12 with a warrant in connection with an intellectual property dispute.

Reports out of the country say the raid resulted from a complaint against NGINX by Russia’s Rambler Group, parent of a major Russian search engine and Internet portal. NGINX co-founder Igor Sysoev worked at Rambler nearly two decades ago, and Rambler is claiming that it’s the rightful owner of the underlying code.

Bloomberg News describes it as “the latest example of the widespread use of Russian law enforcement in corporate disputes.”

F5’s $670 million acquisition of NGINX this year is the largest deal in the Seattle companies history. NGINX has more than 25 percent of the web server market, exceeding or rivaling Apache by some measures.

In an email to customers over the weekend, F5’s Gus Robertson, senior vice president and general manager of NGINX, confirmed the visit by Russian authorities and sought to reassure NGINX users.

On December 12, law enforcement officials came to the Moscow office of NGINX (acquired by F5 Networks earlier this year) apparently seeking evidence related to an intellectual property dispute, to which F5 is currently not a party. The officers had a warrant, and we are still working to confirm the full nature of the investigation. NGINX cofounders Igor Sysoev and Maxim Konovalov were interviewed by law enforcement officials, but no employees have been arrested or are currently detained. F5 fully supports our employees and we believe these claims against them do not have merit.

Promptly following the event we took measures to ensure the security of our master software builds for NGINXNGINX Plus, NGINX WAF and NGINX Unit—all of which are stored on servers outside of Russia. No other products are developed within Russia. F5 remains committed to innovating with NGINXNGINX Plus, NGINX WAF and NGINX Unit, and we will continue to provide the best-in-class support you’ve come to expect.

We’re in touch with F5 representatives about the incident and will provide further updates as they’re available.

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