Information Warfare: FBI Battles Cheap Chinese Counterfeits

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April 24,2008: The U.S. FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) is trying to eliminate counterfeit Cisco hardware from U.S. government networks. Cisco pioneered the development of the hardware (routers and such) that make the Internet work, currently has a 60 percent market share, and is the preferred supplier for many government organizations. Such popularity attracts counterfeiters, and most of the companies that make fake Cisco hardware are in China. This is what worries the FBI. That, and the fact that ten percent of the Cisco hardware bought by the U.S. government recently was found to be counterfeits, built in China.

The big fear has always been that China would replace some chips in this fake Cisco gear, with components that would give Chinese Cyber War operators an edge in any future Internet based conflict. So far, the FBI has found no modified (for Cyber War purposes) electronic components in any of the counterfeit items, just cheap, sometimes substandard, parts. That, in itself, is pretty bad. Without even trying (other than making no effort to shut down the illegal Cisco gear), the Chinese have inflicted considerable damage on the Internet infrastructure of the U.S. government. The counterfeit Cisco gear is more prone to erratic operation, or complete failure.

 


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