Counterfeit Computer Chips Security Risk?

About two weeks ago, it was reported that US and European customs officers seized more than 360,000 counterfeit computer chips and network components bearing more than 40 trademarks in a joint operation last November and December.

Last week, US and Canadian seized 400 counterfeit Cisco network hardware components and labels with an estimated retail value of more than $76 million, the US Justice Department announced. Now ComputerWeekly is reporting that there is a worry that counterfeit Cisco hardware may be on corporate and government networks, and thus possibly posing a security risk.

Computer Weekly also suggests in its story that Cisco may be hesitant to spell out in detail how to spot a fake, since it will let counterfeiters know what to correct.

Cisco, however, has published an internal guide to help spot fakes, which, interestingly enough, is stamped "confidential." More information on uncovering counterfeit Cisco equipment can be found here.

UPDATE: It turns out that IEEE Spectrum had an article on counterfeit chips and electronics in 2006. You can read it here.


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Robert Charette
Spotsylvania, Va.
Willie D. Jones
New York City