An operating system used to manage firewalls sold by Juniper Networks contains unauthorized code that surreptitiously decrypts traffic sent through virtual private networks, officials from the company warned Thursday.

It’s not clear how the code got there or how long it has been there. An advisory published by the company said that NetScreen firewalls using ScreenOS 6.2.0r15 through 6.2.0r18 and 6.3.0r12 through 6.3.0r20 are affected and require immediate patching. Release notes published by Juniper suggest the earliest vulnerable versions date back to at least 2012 and possibly earlier. There’s no evidence right now that the backdoor was put in other Juniper OSes or devices.

“During a recent internal code review, Juniper discovered unauthorized code in ScreenOS that could allow a knowledgeable attacker to gain administrative access to NetScreen devices and to decrypt VPN connections,” Juniper Chief Information officer Bob Worrall wrote. “Once we identified these vulnerabilities, we launched an investigation into the matter, and worked to develop and issue patched releases for the latest versions of ScreenOS.”

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“Unauthorized code” in Juniper firewalls decrypts encrypted VPN traffic