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?