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Counterfeit Cisco Gear Showing Up In US 182

Posted by kdawson
from the procurement-via-eBay dept.
spazimodo writes to point out a Network World report on the growing problem of counterfeit networking equipment. The article surveys the whole grey-market phenomenon, which is by no means limited to Cisco gear — they just happen to be its biggest target. From the article: "Thirty cards turned out to be counterfeit... Despite repeated calls and e-mails to his supplier, Atec Group, the issue was not resolved... How did a registered Cisco reseller (also a platinum Network Appliance partner and gold partner to Microsoft and Symantec) acquire the counterfeit [WAN interface cards] in the first place?... Phony network equipment [has] been quietly creeping into sales and distribution channels since early 2004... Counterfeit gear has become a big problem that could put networks — and health and safety — at risk. 'Nobody wants to say they've got counterfeit gear inside their enterprises that can all of a sudden stop working. But it's all over the place, just like pirated software is everywhere,' says Sharon Mills, director of IT procurement organization Caucus."
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Counterfeit Cisco Gear Showing Up In US

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  • Just FUD? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @03:29PM (#16565338) Homepage Journal
    This all smells of FUD.

    What he didn't know was that phoney network equipment had been quietly creeping into sales and distribution channels since early 2004, when manufacturers began seeing more returns, faster mean-time between failures and higher failure rates,

    Isn't this the same period we have seen bad caps making equipment randomly fail, batteries which blow up, hard drives not being hard enough and dead pixel nightmares for all different companies?

    Is it not more likely that this is just another symptom of too much, too quickly and they should just improve their quality control and testing regimes?

    Sure, the cards might have been resold, but they are branded cisco items bearing the entire cisco interface and functionality - somehow I doubt outright fake chipsets and devices like this can be produced by anyone other than cisco themselves.

    The article manages to totally skip highlighting a single specific case of fake hardware, the nearest being a raid on a hardware repair centre where officials from a group of agencies pounced.

    Reports in the San Francisco Chronicle made it appear at first like an immigration raid, as 12 illegal immigrants (11 from Mexico and one from Colombia) were taken away. But that wouldn't explain the presence of so many agencies, including the FBI, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Postal Service and the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team, which investigates large-scale, high-tech piracy and counterfeit cases.

    Just because a group of people from different departments turns up does not justify the argument, there could be any number of reasons.
    If it was directly related to fake hardware, don't you think cisco would be highlighting the fact a little clearer than supposition?

    They just want to scare people into paying top dollar from the top tier people.
    I have no problem with this, but it seems like an underhanded way to say it.
    • Re:Just FUD? (Score:4, Informative)

      by superskippy (772852) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @03:35PM (#16565418)
      I work for an ISP in the UK, and we've bought fake Cisco interface cards in the past (although it was before I started working there), that we're labeled as genuine.

      So this stuff definitely does exist.

      • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot DOT kadin AT xoxy DOT net> on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @04:35PM (#16566522) Homepage Journal
        Did you examine or keep any of the fake ones around?

        I'm really curious to see a "fake" one right next to an "authentic" Cisco part. Are they duplicates? Or just some other network card that they stamped a phoney Cisco logo on?

        It would make a pretty big difference. In the latter case, they're nothing more than counterfeits, like the fake Rolexes that you can get from guys in Battery Park.

        But if they're actual Cisco parts, being sold "unauthorized" (perhaps the factory they're outsourcing the assembly to decided to run an extra production shift or something, make a little money on the side), then the situation could be a lot different.

        So which is it? A fake Rolex that actually has a $0.25 quartz movement inside? Or the real deal in terms of functionality and hardware, being made somehow without Cisco's approval and without going through their distribution chain?
        • by tkrotchko (124118) * on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @06:36PM (#16568510) Homepage
          Years ago we purchased a Cisco Ethernet interface and paid some outrageous amount. Like... 4 figures. It was a standard PCI Ethernet card with no ID on it. Except the board had an FCC number on it. We checked, and it turned out to be a cheap Ethernet card that was readily available for about $25 anywhere. The only difference was there was no manufacturer identified.

          Now, I don't know if this was a special case, but surely somebody figured out that some of these parts are generic parts and is selling them with phony Cisco papers and making a tidy profit.

        • Grey vs Black market (Score:3, Informative)

          by ePhil_One (634771)
          But if they're actual Cisco parts, being sold "unauthorized" (perhaps the factory they're outsourcing the assembly to decided to run an extra production shift or something, make a little money on the side), then the situation could be a lot different.

          The summary refers to this as "grey-market", which it doesn't seem to be. Grey market goods are legitimate goods sold outside the authorized distribution channels, it could be imported from outside the US (think Canadian Pharmacies, though many of those are

      • by rekoil (168689)
        This has happened at my company too - in our case it was a lot of SFP modules (for those not in the business, these are small, hot-pluggable optical transceivers for Gigabit Ethernet and OCx ports). We had about ten of them going into a switch we were installing, and the switch refused to activate any of them beyond the first we plugged in because they all had the same serial number burned into their ROMs. Ouch.
    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @03:46PM (#16565658)
      These are physical items. It's not like software.

      You buy them from a store. The store has to have them on hand or order them. Either way, since the store you're buying them from did not make them, shipment will be required.

      So just keep following each shipment back until you find the company that manufactured the parts or the company that "cannot find their records".

      There, problem solved.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        They are easy to track up to a point. I work for a large network equipment vendor who is constantly targeted by counterfeit equipment. Although we can track the origin up to a point, it usually ends up leading to some shady manufacturers or criminal enterprises. In one case I was involved in, some legitimate cards were sent from an authorized manufacturer out the "front door" but in the "back door" they were receiving counterfeit ones and shipping them along with the good ones. One time a truck was HIJA
      • These are physical items. It's not like software. You buy them from a store. The store has to have them on hand or order them. Either way, since the store you're buying them from did not make them, shipment will be required. So just keep following each shipment back until you find the company that manufactured the parts or the company that "cannot find their records".

        You missed a major step there - the store, and each step higher in the chain must open their records to you for this to work. Any guess on

        • by devilspgd (652955) *
          subpoena mean anything to you?

          It may not always apply, but between that, and assisting them in tracking the fraud (unless it was internal, of course)
          • subpoena mean anything to you?

            Yes, it means expen$ve. Unless I'm a company with deep pockets - I'm very unlikely to have the cash (and time and energy) to follow that path. From the vendors side, if you show up and threaten a subpoena - you'll be shown the door. (And marked as an asshole who gets (at most) the bare minimum of customer service at best.)

            Equally, if your lawyer (either vendor or customer) is worth his salt, he'll advise you to not to either threaten or file, unless your losses are

            • by devilspgd (652955) *
              I'm not suggesting any individual go after their vendor, that obviously wouldn't be practical in the real world. Rather, I'm suggesting Cisco going after the records of the vendor and going up the chain to find the source.

              Cisco has deep pockets, in-house council, and the monetary incentive to make it stop.

              Were I a vendor, with Cisco yelling at me, threatening to revoke my certification (I wonder how that would bode for business?), I'd probably open up records of the one known-to-be-fraud transaction to avo
      • Cisco Gear, Unfortunately in about 1992 the dot.com bubble burst throwing BILLIONS of dollars of cisco gear onto the market.

        Cisco was fighting hard against the second hand and auction market.

        Many of the major suppliers of fake Cisco hardware got their start during this period and now are continuing to clone Cisco hardware.

        Cisco hardware bought under such circumstances is almost always overkill so poor hardware running adequate software(Solaris) usually is acceptable, apparently cases are starting to
    • A common FUD spread by authorised distributors is that buying from the grey market (legal, but through unauthorised channels), means you're buying substandard or fake products. Not so. Obviously, buying from the grey market does reduce your ability to get a refund etc if the product breaks or is a fake. Authorised sales channels clearly want to pump up the FUD to keep their margins up.

      Fake products are getting more sophisticated all the time. I've even seen fake ICs. They looked fine, worked OK (most of the

      • by drinkypoo (153816)
        A company I worked for (silicon engineering, formerly sequoia semiconductor, now part of creative labs) actually had a chip design stolen by some chinese company, but the silicon wasn't different; they popped the head off the chip and "scanned" it with an electron microscope. These days you can build a SEM for less than the price of a decent used car; last I heard it was about $5000. That's chump change.
        • These days you can build a SEM for less than the price of a decent used car; last I heard it was about $5000. That's chump change.

          But without a way to make more chips, the design doesn't do you any good. What's the going rate for chip fabs these days?

          • by drinkypoo (153816)
            Uh, that's my point. Anyone with a fab can afford a SEM just by checking under the couch cushions for loose change. Metaphorically anyway. Meanwhile there's several fabs in China and they're not picky about where the designs come from.
            • Right. Several. In other words, it's not as if any of the billion people in China could spend a few grand and do it just with the microscope; only a relative few, fairly large companies have the capability. Although there would certainly be issues getting the Chinese government to prosecute, it shouldn't be that hard to figure out who's making the unauthorized chips (compared to finding the source of knock-off branded clothing, for instance). It's all about the barrier to entry.

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                Although there would certainly be issues getting the Chinese government to prosecute

                It's not that there's issues getting the Chinese government to prosecute, it's that it's fucking impossible to get the Chinese government to prosecute unless they have it in for the company in question - and they don't, because that's where the weekends with booze and hookers at the hot springs come from. Not that it's much different here.

                it shouldn't be that hard to figure out who's making the unauthorized chips (com

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Rice-Pudding (167484)
      Sure, the cards might have been resold, but they are branded cisco items bearing the entire cisco interface and functionality - somehow I doubt outright fake chipsets and devices like this can be produced by anyone other than cisco themselves.

      Whether or not this is what happened in this particular case, I don't know. But in general, the issue is not that someone has taken the time to reverse-engineer a complete product and produce it again from the ground up. The "fake" hardware likely comes from any combi

      • by Fred_A (10934)
        I know point two above used to be very common for stuff like injected plastics (as in toys or sports shoes). No reason why it wouldn't translate well into electronics.

        After all the market for fake spare parts for cars and (unfortunately) airplanes is flourishing...
      • by tcgroat (666085)
        A point that's been missing is how the sellers of fake equipment take advantage of legitimate buyers and sellers. Here I'm talking about those who sell counterfeits as the real thing, at normal prices--not shady too-good-to-be-true deals.

        They don't provide any customer support.

        They don't cover the warranty returns.

        The buyer of the fake model calls the legitimate supplier, and one of two things happens. The customer may get support from them, because either the supplier doesn't know the item is fake or w

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      somehow I doubt outright fake chipsets and devices like this can be produced by anyone other than cisco themselves.

      Well stop doubting, there is enough industrial espionage going on that this stuff does happen. Even companies like Cisco are not immune to it. I can tell you that Cisco is taking this stuff very seriously, to the extent that in the not-too-distant future, your Cisco software images will only run on hardware that contains an embedded digital certificate that is validated by the software imag

    • Cisco offshores a lot of production over to China. This recently bit them in the butt when a company named Huawei stole their software and Cisco tried to sue them in China, but the Chinese Government, which backs Huawei, shut that lawsuit down.

      I wouldn't be surprised if Cisco's current counterfeiting woes came from some other offshore producer that stole other facets of their IP.

      I have little sympathy for Cisco; they think American workers are too expensive, and that American labor rules are too tough. Well
      • Overproduction? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot DOT kadin AT xoxy DOT net> on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @04:49PM (#16566764) Homepage Journal
        I've heard stories that a lot of the off-brand clothing and shoes that you can buy in Asia are actually produced in the same factories that make name-brand stuff. At the end of the day, after finishing a run of $US_BRAND, they'll bring in the third-shifters and run another production cycle and just not put the logos on. (And depending on who you ask, use lower quality raw materials, etc. etc.)

        I wonder if the contract electronics assemblers are doing similar stuff? Seems like it would be pretty easy. If you're assembling network cards for Cisco, you know where all the parts are coming from, and how to put them together. Chances are, all the parts suppliers are also going to be Chinese; not too difficult to call them up and request an extra 1,000 widgets, and just pay for it out-of-pocket. Then you just keep assembling parts until the supplies are exhausted, package up whatever you've promised to deliver to the foreign company (Cisco), and sell the remainder to a local distributor who makes sure they disappear into basically untraceable Asian markets.

        As foreign companies outsource more and more of not only the production and assembly, but also the supply-chain-management and procurement functions to "one stop shops," this becomes easier and easier. There are plenty of companies who would be happy to manufacture your widget for you, and handle all the parts sourcing -- allowing Western companies to avoid all the unpleasantness that sometimes involves. But that means there's very little way to verify whether the company is ordering more components than are actually needed to complete the run. In fact, it's nearly impossible -- without intimate knowledge of the part's defect rate and of manufacturing errors, you have no idea how many extra parts need to be ordered. Are they buying 5% more ICs than necessary because they know the factory tends to produce crummy ones (but is still the cheapest available), and are looking out for you? Or are they padding the order so they can overproduce and sell the excess on the side?

        Like you, I have little sympathy for American companies who get bitten by this. If they wanted control over the manufacturing process, they could keep it here in the States. If counterfeiting is what happens when you outsource everything to a country with cheap labor and little respect for foreign intellectual property, you made your bed and now you can sleep in it.
        • I bet they're buying more ICs because they're declaring an inflated defect rate.

          It's the easiest way to cover their tracks.
    • by BeBoxer (14448)

      Is it not more likely that this is just another symptom of too much, too quickly and they should just improve their quality control and testing regimes?

      Sure, the cards might have been resold, but they are branded cisco items bearing the entire cisco interface and functionality - somehow I doubt outright fake chipsets and devices like this can be produced by anyone other than cisco themselves.


      I've been the unlucky recipient of counterfeit Cisco hardware, and I can tell you with 100% certainty that it does ex
    • > Sure, the cards might have been resold, but they are branded cisco items bearing the entire cisco interface
      > and functionality - somehow I doubt outright fake chipsets and devices like this can be produced by anyone
      > other than cisco themselves.

      Not really. A lot of Cisco cards are pretty simple products, off the shelf chips from 3rd party vendors with some common glue logic and some connectors. Some are more difficult, granted. Now consider Cisco doesn't actually manufacture much of anything.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Is it not more likely that this is just another symptom of too much, too quickly and they should just improve their quality control and testing regimes?

      I'm not sure about that. China in particular has an exceptionally long history of copying other people's products and reselling them on the world market. Sometimes they're rebranded, sometimes they aren't, it depends on if they're trying to copy a design or an entire product.

      In fact this has been the status quo in China for many decades. I remember a

  • Work great (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @03:32PM (#16565374)
    those Gears work nicely here. BTW first po$%&$&R/&A98908 NO CARRIER
  • by Sinryc (834433) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @03:34PM (#16565396)
    If they can make something that people will think is good enough to be a Cisco product, they should go legit and sell cheaply. I mean it would be genius of them

    • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @03:41PM (#16565544)
      If they can make something that people will think is good enough to be a Cisco product, they should go legit and sell cheaply. I mean it would be genius of them

      You miss the point : people who make counterfeit products pay peanuts to manufacture the fake goods, and sell them with a huge markup because the goods are branded with the logo of a company that makes expensive stuff. If they went legit and sold Cisco-compatible equipment under the SuperCrapola brand, instead of selling illegal Cisco-compatible equiment under the Cisco brand, they'd be a lot poorer.
      • by Sinryc (834433)
        But think of all the sells they could make, and they would be on the correct side of the law. A lot safer and probably survive longer.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by M-G (44998)
          But they'd also have to create a support infrastructure, etc. Much easier to just create the knockoffs and sell them as the genuine article.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bluesman (104513)
        Another reason is that Cisco holds patents on parts of their routers, so a legit business would have to pay licensing fees to Cisco for every compatible router they sell.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)
          Another reason is that Cisco holds patents on parts of their routers, so a legit business would have to pay licensing fees to Cisco for every compatible router they sell.

          We're talking about Chinese companies here. On the rare occasion that anyone bothers to sue them for patent violation, the Chinese courts shoot it down faster than you can say "reverse engineering". China has zero respect for other nations' IP laws.

          • by bit01 (644603)

            China has zero respect for other nations' IP laws.

            Often with good reason unfortunately. Much "IP" these days is simply market manipulation.

            ---

            Creating simple artificial scarcity with copyright and patents on things that can be copied billions of times at minimal cost is a fundamentally stupid economic idea.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by wizzard2k (979669)
        Point aside, I'd hope they come up with a better brand name than SuperCrapola. Something just doesnt ring right. I dunno, maybe too many syllables? I'm not a marketing guru.
      • It would've been fine had they being labeled as "compatible" or "clone" products. Duplicating (insert company name) logo's are at very least trade mark violation, not to mention willful misrepresentation of merchandise.
    • by Kenja (541830)
      Going legit would require them to develope their own firmware and drivers rather then just making copies of Ciscos.
    • So you are suggesting that Cisco makes crap? It's not hard to copy a circuit board. The very problem is that the products aren't turning out to be as good because they fail or turn out to be flaky. And when they fail, Cisco's not going to replace them for you because they weren't legit Cisco products.
  • Photography gear (Score:4, Informative)

    by dedazo (737510) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @03:34PM (#16565402) Journal
    The 'grey market' for cameras, lenses and other accessories is also huge, especially now with the wild proliferation of digital cameras, although it used to be smaller in scale in the days of film SLRs.

    Even reputable shops like Adorama will sell you 'grey' prosumer Nikon digital SLRs for example. The difference is the lack of a US-actionable warranty and funky things like manuals in Turkish and whatnot... but other than that the gear is largely the same (be careful who you buy from anyway!). These things typically go for about 10% less than the 'straight' ones.

    I've bought a couple of high-end Canon lenses this way and I haven't been burned yet, but I probably won't be doing it anymore. Too much risk.

    • As long as it is not sold as being made by someone who it wasn't made by, there's nothing wrong with that. If they can make a compatable lens, there is nothing to stop them from selling it, at whatever price they can get people to buy it for.

      They just can't say they are Nikon/Canon and sell it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Skapare (16644)

        These are not fakes. If you buy a gray market Nikon or Canon lens, and it has the name Nikon or Canon on it, it almost certainly is made by them. The difference is that it is packaged for a different country where they lower the price there to compete in that country's weaker economy. Additionally, the domestic arm of the parent company in each country is invested in by different investment groups that want to be the ones to make the money. This is why they call these things gray market instead of black

  • by JakiChan (141719) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @03:35PM (#16565420)
    My understanding is that a vendor is contracted to produce, say, 100,000 cards for Cisco. They make 100,000 and then another 100,000 more (say without the Cisco logo or whatever) and sell the extra ones on the pirate market. It's not like it's totally hacked together - this is gear off of the same production line. They may sub in some cheaper components.

    Now would I knowingly use pirate gear in my production network? No. But when I was building a lab at home and needed 20 WIC-1Ts I was sure glad I could get them on eBay in bulk. Probably not legit but I wasn't planning on putting my home lab under Smartnet.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kenja (541830)
      No, its more like then make 200,000 of which only 100,000 meet Ciscos qualty standards. The ones Cisco rejects get sold to a knock off company.
  • not quite as bad... (Score:4, Informative)

    by User 956 (568564) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @03:36PM (#16565442) Homepage
    This isn't as bad as when pirates pirated an entire company: NEC [iht.com]. Yeah, they had fake buildings, fake manufacturing facilities, fake executives, everything.
    • > This isn't as bad as when pirates pirated an entire company: NEC. Yeah, they had fake buildings, fake manufacturing facilities, fake executives, everything.

      Yeah, but all that was needed as the backdrop for the fake lunar landings.
  • Cisco derives it's power in HW mostly because of it's ASICs, so until somebody is able to counterfeit that, it's not that big of a deal.

    Besides, how come the issue was not resolved? How about standard warranties? Did he loose the signed delivery protocol that listed all the WICs an their S/Ns?
    The article is vague about that
  • Well for a start (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @03:39PM (#16565500) Homepage Journal
    Don't build stuff in China.

    To be blunt Cisco and 3Com build stuff in china because it is cheap. The people that build the stuff can pick up a little extra money selling the gerbers , firmware, and document ion to the counterfeiters.

    This is the price price for doing business in China and other very cheap countries.

    What will really become expensive is when these companies can take what they have learned building stuff for Cisco and 3Com and then compete with them directly.

    You can pay now or you can pay later.

    • by krell (896769)
      "You can pay now or you can pay later."

      Or you can find a country that, like China, does not overcharge high rip-off prices, but unlike China, has better enforcement on this. Then you neither pay now nor pay later.
      • Or you can find a country that, like China, does not overcharge high rip-off prices, but unlike China, has better enforcement on this. Then you neither pay now nor pay later.

        In other news, North Pole granted accession to the WTO; attempts at elf unionization fail.

    • by afidel (530433)
      A chinese company tried to do exactly that, and got shot down in flames. Cisco IOS and the hardware are covered by literally thousands of patents as well as copyright. Trying to compete with them using their own tech doesn't work because anywhere in the civilized world their IP will be protected and the knockoff goods will be seized after Cisco wins their injunctive relief.
      • by LWATCDR (28044)
        Other people build routers besides Cisco. So it must be possible to build a router that doesn't use their patents. Notice I said learn from building Cisco's product. I didn't say rip off Cisco's product.

        Don't be all that sure that IP laws will protect you forever when you train a monster. I am sure that GM and Ford thought that they never had to fear Honda.
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @03:47PM (#16565660) Homepage Journal
    I know a genuine Sysco 4507 when I see one!
  • Cisco RAM Trick (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mahesh_gharat (633793) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @03:47PM (#16565666)
    One of the Cisco vendor in my area used to replace the original RAM chips from new Cisco routers before shipping. They used to replace those RAM chips with made in taiwan RAM chips which were dirt cheap (1/5th or lesser in price). Then this vendor used to sell those original RAM chips, that they earlier removed from Cisco routers to other customers at higher rate. PROFIT.

    How do I know this?
    The guy who use to work there, was my college mate during my Computer Science graduation days. You can still find all of us drinking beers on Weekends at near by joint. ;-)
    • What kind of memory did these routers use? Were they ECC? What form factor (SODIMM, DIMM, propriatary) are they? Do these routers still function with the same degree of reliability (lockups are not allowed)?
  • by caesar-auf-nihil (513828) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @03:51PM (#16565764)
    I'm not surprised by this - I'm seeing it more often with supposedly fire safe parts with the "UL" tag on them. Since so many electronic parts/appliances now have such very tight profit margins, the following happens:

    Primary original equipment manufacturer (OEM) subcontracts out to a cheaper source to make some profit on the part.
    Secondary part supplier, also hit with tight margins, subcontracts to local supplier/small business to make the part.
    Tertiary part manufacturer, also hit with tight margins but glad to have the business uses off-spec parts, or in the case of flame retardant rated plastics, dilutes the specified plastic with non-flame retarded plastic to get the parts made on time, and cheaply.

    There has been an increase in the parts that have UL tags "failing" random pulled fire tests that UL makes by going into stores and randomly pulling consumer goods off the shelves. So I'm not surprised that this is happening in other areas as well when all sorts of quality control go out the window since the OEM can't directly supervise the secondary and tertiary suppliers, and they won't know the part is off-spec until they get the failed test. Once the tertiary vendor has made the part once, they usually have all the molds and other expensive equipment to start making knock-offs, especially in areas with poor law enforcement.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by M-G (44998)
      And each of those suppliers along the way is happy to slap whatever label or certification text on it.

      A member of a car club I'm in was on business in China, and found a company that made various pins and badges. He showed them one of the club's grille badges to see if he could make them. The guy looked at it, and then asked our club member if he wanted the same stuff that was on the back of the original. Unsure of what he meant, he looked at the badge, and the guy pointed to the 'Made in UK' stamped on
    • Having worked for a company that makes a lot of substrates for these UL tags -----
      They are usually a joke. The average tag is an adhesive backed vinyl with a clear polypro laminate to provide scratch protection. There is NO other verification method used on these labels.
      The hologram labels are different. The hologram substrate itself has between 12 - 24 security features embedded into the hologram. They include:
      • Frequency specific holograms
      • Angle specific holograms
      • Quarter codes

      By combining these, cust

  • If we'd spent all that money researching telepathy instead of electronics, we wouldn't be in this position.
  • by querist (97166)
    I know that this may sound a little too "tinfoil hat", but the thing that scares me the most about this is the potential for backdoors, spyware, and other nefarious modifications in this grey market hardware. Where would you detect the spying? This is potentially A Bad Thing(tm).

    Yes, I know that so far no-one has found anything like that, but the potential creeps me out. One of the reasons people buy Cisco gear is because they trust the company. Counterfeit goods weaken the brand value and in and of themsel
    • by dan828 (753380)
      I know that this may sound a little too "tinfoil hat", but the thing that scares me the most about this is the potential for backdoors, spyware, and other nefarious modifications in this grey market hardware. Where would you detect the spying? This is potentially A Bad Thing(tm). Yes, I know that so far no-one has found anything like that, but the potential creeps me out. One of the reasons people buy Cisco gear is because they trust the company. Counterfeit goods weaken the brand value and in and of thems
    • One of the reasons people buy Cisco gear is because they trust the company.

      Sounds like a really good argument why you should never just blindly trust someone because of a brand name.

      If you don't know who's code is actually running on your firewall/router/whatever, and I don't mean "what code is running on that model device, according to the manual," I mean your firewall, that actual metal box in the closet, then you are assuming a certain amount of risk. Any time you blindly swallow what some company that
  • by rickkas7 (983760) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @03:55PM (#16565844)
    FTA: "What if it wasn't a bank subnet that went offline because of a faulty card in the router? What if it were an air-traffic control network instead?" van de Gohm asks. "This is no different than counterfeit medicine in the pharmaceutical industry. And it's potentially just as life-threatening."

    If the air traffic control system can go down because of a single faulty card in a router, fake or not, I'm thinking I want to avoid planes, and look up a lot more than I do now.

    • by mnmn (145599)
      Cisco is about redundant networks. Think of all the MPLS clouds, routing protocols, redundant switching paths and convergence times. So if the hardware fails, thats when we really need the IOS to work. Maybe thats what cisco is afraid of.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      As someone who writes ATC software for a living, I can tell you that a single faulty card in a router, or even an entire failed router, will not be bringing planes down. Redundancy is our life.
  • by Lanboy (261506) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @04:05PM (#16566034)
    They send thier chipsets and engineering specs to an outside company (flextronics) just like all the other vendors. I imagine that with ISO9001 certifcation making every detail of label placement and branding a documented aspect of the manufacturing process, the details on how to build a card can fit on a USB drive, and be sent to taiwan or china for the incredible markup Cisco enjoys. I would further assume that the failure rate off the assembly line is about the same as the real production runs, its just a matter of who is going to bother QAing parts that are conterfeit.

    For that matter the cards that don't meet vendor QA are a likely source of these counterfeits.

    Keep in mind, the markup on flash and dram memory that is essentially identical to off the shelf memory is intense, and back when I cared about how much the crap cost, I would skimp on the gen-u-wine cisco memory or pix interface cards myself. I wouldn't want to buy a conterfeit DS3 blade though...

    The scary thought is that if Chineese plants are going to slap together a counterfeit router, how hard would it be to add wiretap capability. THE YELLOW IT PERIL!!!
  • ...if there's a counterfeit Sisko kicking around, it's bound to be one of those pesky shapechangers.

    [PLEASE INSERT ADDITIONAL STAR TREK JOKES BENEATH HERE]

  • by aldheorte (162967) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @04:08PM (#16566086)
    "Nobody wants to say they've got counterfeit gear inside their enterprises that can all of a sudden stop working."

    That sentence reads the same if you remove "counterfeit". Hardware and software that can all of a sudden stop working is a fact of life, regardless of manufacturer.

    The use of logos to indicate that a piece of hardware is genuinely from another company when it is not is unethical and should be stopped, but this argument is simply a scare tactic attempting to disguise the real interest, which is that of the manufacturer whose logo is on the product and is angry they did not derive any revenue from the sale. Otherwise, they could care less. From a consumer standpoint, safety is found in redundancy and contingency planning, not trusting that the logo of any one manufacturer on an item means it will not suddenly stop working. I do not blame the manufacturer for wanting in on the sale, but tell it straight, don't childishly trot out the bogeyman to get sympathy,.
    • FUD patrol on call.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by petermgreen (876956)
      lost sales aren't the only reason for a manufacturer to be concerned, lost reputation is too.

      if gear with your name on it starts failing a lot more than normal that is bad for your reputation whether you authorised the relase of that gear or not and gear that hurts somebody or starts fires is worse still.

      if a product is made specifically to be a knockoff its hardly going to be made using good quality components or given good QA. And if a product is a reject from an official manufacturing run, well it was pr
    • by Knetzar (698216)
      Who supports you when the conterfeit hardware has a problem? Do you really expect Cisco to help you out once they found out that it's really not Cisco gear? Could Cisco even help you if the hardware is different? What about being able to find documentation, chances are the counterfeit gear isn't as well documented and googling for answers might not help you.

      For small things I really don't care about counterfeit (clothes, small items at home), but if you depend on something, you should make sure that it's
    • The problem is that there is no way to know the quality of the counterfeit. Is it the same?
      What if the shielding is no good because they left out some of that expensive metal, or they used components in their power supplies that work really well for 10,000 hours, then explode, or have double the power drain of a normal component. What about using the wrong processor chip, so that firmware sort of works but does not really, because the hardware is not
      the revision it claims to be. Any and all of those thin
  • by hurfy (735314)
    Between the summary talking about grey-market and a bunch of you not having a clue.....

    They seem to be talking about actual counterfeits, they may be entering the market via grey-market channels and getting mixed back in with the regular and/or real grey-market stuff.

    What little meat there was seemed to say there were cisco cards that had the wrong chip or something that was diferent. That and don't buy cisco cards from a dude in china...duh
  • All Cisco has to do is quit beating competitors over the head with patents and other anti-competitive practices and compete off of merrit and service instead. If it wasn't for things like this artifically pumping up the price of Cisco products and locking out competitors, other vendors would be more than happy to build their own brand recognition. IMHO, Cisco is getting exactly the plate that they dished themselves up, and now they wine about security, sub par products, and quality. HA! What a joke.
  • The article does readers a disservice by implying that "gray market" automatically means counterfeit. Gray market products are genuine branded products that were simply not intended for the market in which they are being sold. They are just as good as regular products, with the exception that their warranty is generally invalid in the region where they're sold. Reputable merchants who deal in gray-market products include B&H Photo [bhphotovideo.com] and Dynamism.com [dynamism.com]. (And no, I don't work for either of them.)
  • who is a Cisco reseller with shiny knobs on (this is all theorectical and I've made it up - OK?).
    Seemingly the factories where they make at least some of the stuff make 'extra' and if you work your way high enough up the supply chain, you'll get approached by them. Seemingly it's not 'fake' it's exactly the same, just you get 5 routers all with the same serial number.
    I assume the factory tells Cisco they only made 1 router, produce 4 clones, and unless more than two of them break down simultaneously, Cisc

13. ... r-q1

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