Government

FBI investigation nets $3.5 million worth of fake network equipment

The FBI has announced that an investigation into counterfeit network components made in China -- and sold to the U.S. government, has recovered about 3,500 fake devices with a value of $3.5 million.

The FBI has announced that an investigation into counterfeit network components made in China -- and sold to the U.S. government -- has recovered about 3,500 fake devices with a value of $3.5 million.

The uncovered devices include pirated versions of Cisco routers, switches, interface converters, and wide area network interface cards. Leaked FBI slides -- which led to the admission -- showed cases in Massachusetts, Ohio, Missouri, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, and California.

Excerpt from ZDNet News:

Operation Cisco Raider involved 15 investigations at nine FBI field offices and the execution of 39 search warrants, the bureau said. The FBI release did not mention if any arrests had been made. Components included pirated versions of Cisco Systems routers as well as switches, interface converters, and wide area network interface cards, Reuters reported.

In this instance, the fake equipment came about as a result of unscrupulous manufacturers trying to make money, and the FBI does not believe that the uncovered components made government computer systems more vulnerable. Tests by Cisco on pirated equipment to date have yielded no back doors so far.

However, it can be argued that deliberately tampering with networking equipment could result in security being seriously compromised, especially if it is subsequently sold to law enforcement or the military. Do you see firmware exploits forming the backdrop of the next security landscape in the near future?

About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

16 comments
Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Read that this morning. As for there being no security risk, the hardware in question was said to be in unimportant parts of the network and not attached to any areas that would jeopardize security. What else are they supposed to say? "Our FBI's intelligence records are now available through BitTorrent" ? I wonder just how deep that went, really.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

"In this instance, the fake equipment came about as a result by unscrupulous manufacturers to make money, and the FBI does not believe that the uncovered components made government computer systems more vulnerable." "unimportant parts of the network " I really would like to know how our goofy government can consider that ANY part of its network is unimportant? Duh?

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

That would include foreign intelligence, they don't understand Arabic or Pakistani anyway. I think you could also throw in debts to other nations, the truth files, escapades of the president, GWB's coke and booze budget etc. Time has provem that these files are rapidly deleted without prior examination. I wonder how many minutes you'd have after posting the government files on a P2P site though, 5, 10, 15? Before the feds tuned up and sent you to Guantanamo Bay for a holiday with Akbar.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

it was also made available through online gaming such as WOW... Next, the treasury :0 Followed shortly after by Banks and Credit Card Companies..

joray92057
joray92057

We are suppose to learn from our mistakes, seams to me our government does not learn from it's mistakes. To me sure looks like the United States is run by a bunch of stupid people. Why are we suporting China when our own people are out of work? I understand cheaper, but when you end up slicing your own throat time to rethink that. Not to mention the possible leaking of secret papers.

ncane
ncane

Why again is the U.S. Government buying Network/Computer Equipment from China(Companies in China)?????

cburge
cburge

I work internationally a lot on IT projects funded by US aid money. There are restrictions on Source (company selling) and Origin (where it is made) for all the stuff we buy. We have the distributor get Origin papers for all such techie equipment we buy. But, open the guts of this equipment and most all the stuff inside is made in China. Oh and try to buy a desktop personal printer that is NOT made in China. It is a well documented fact that knocking-off brand name products (perscription drugs to toothpaste) is all too common in China. This is just part of the risk to brand of manufacturing products in China. I would suspect that CISCO is even less happy about this little news story than were the "unimportant" Feds who were using this knock-off gear.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

There's always Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia. What, are you gonna buy a US made IT appliance? Sure you are. :D

kali_mst
kali_mst

A very simple question with no answers, go Liberal.

sloov187
sloov187

From the way I understand stand it, it is the GSA distrubutors that are buying from China either knowing to save money or unknowing from very sneaky people that use US addresses to appear that they are shipping from the US.

derek
derek

So if the stuff posed no risk. . that must mean it worked as good as the originals. Anyone have the number of the guys that were selling the stuff? . Just as good as cisco at a franction the cost? maybe I need some of that action. LOL (in case any clients read this, it was a joke;) )

paulmah
paulmah

It can be argued that deliberately tampering with networking equipment could result in security being seriously compromised, especially if they are subsequently sold to law enforcement or to the military. Do you see firmware exploits forming the backdrop of the next security epidemic?

ricom1
ricom1

The dilemma of counterfeit IT technology has placed much scrutiny in the VAR channel. Opportunistic buying on both new and used equipment requires having proven suppliers. http://www.shopricom.com/

Ethical_Loner
Ethical_Loner

A couple points on this - 1) The American general public are idiots. They want everything for next to nothing if not free and the want it now. Yet everybody is all "inflamed" when a "company" provides "top level" equipment at that price. C'mon, did you really think all that inexpensive stuff you've purchased was cheap because you are such and astute buyer? 2) You can never hope to control every possible way that John Q. Public will come up with to get "something for nothing". But you can certainly bet that we could take that $3.3 trillion the Pentagon "lost" and put a large dent in it. 3) You can fully expect this type of activity to increase in the future. With all the lopsided trade agreements this country has brokered over the past 20 years or so we are ripe for the picking. There. Now don't you feel better?

Ethical_Loner
Ethical_Loner

Sorry about the typos in the original post. My fingers sometimes have trouble keeping up with my mind. Apologies.

johan.wauters771
johan.wauters771

aren't Cisco products made in China to begin with? And how can you tell if you have the real deal or the "fake" stuff, possibly even manufactured in the same factory anyway?