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Counterfeit Cisco Gear Showing Up In US 182

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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  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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. ;-)
  • 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.
  • 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!!!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @04:07PM (#16566080)
    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 HIJACKED in Asia and the good cards were swapped with counterfeit ones and sold into the channel that way. Who hijacked the truck, who stood to profit (or how) and who made the fake cards we don't know, but when the customer received a bunch of them, they looked smelled and felt like real cards, they just didn't work. The OS didn't even recognize them and couldn't even load the drivers. Posting Anonymously for good reason.
  • Re:Just FUD? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by omgwtfroflbbqwasd ( 916042 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @04:10PM (#16566102)
    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 image. This is a huge problem for Cisco's warranty/failure auditing department.
  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @04:13PM (#16566138)
    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.
  • by M-G ( 44998 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @04:18PM (#16566250)
    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 it.
  • Re:Photography gear (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @04:26PM (#16566384) Homepage

    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 market, because they really are non-fakes, but just diverted in their distribution.

  • by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot,kadin&xoxy,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 Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @05:16PM (#16567168)

    What the parent says
    I run the robotics factory making building materials.
    The stuff that dont make the national quality standards to get sold officialy, gets sold out of the back door to a handful of tame builders supliers in our city.

    Posting AC for a reason :-)
  • Unfortunately.... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @06:58PM (#16568822) are correct, and unfortunately 2), it is the bulk of US manufacturers doing this. They are completely destroying the economy *on purpose*, pillaging as they go, then will flee when the collapse comes, literally leave, leaving the bulk of medium and smaller investors stranded with bogus shares and the bulk of the US workers in generational debt.

        Right now they are taking the housing bubble slowly collapsing loans and selling them to hedgers on discount (themselves in other words), who then are using that simply bogus conjob "collateral" in a huge scale manipulated wall street pump and dump scam. Obvious as all get out. This recent record DOW-HAHAHAHA! It's HILARIOUS! Look to exactly where the bulk of that money is coming from..analyse that..follow it back.

    We WILL be seeing a great depression version two from all of this. China right now is just taking the free stuff they are being handed by the boatload, and who wouldn't? The top 1% are the only people benefiting in the long run from this scam economy, and they will be sitting rich enough and powerful enough to go live wherever they want and have guards a-plenty. ALL of these globalist loons know china will continue to counterfeit, they don't care, they are in on it to ripoff some millions or billions apiece (you don't think all that investment money going to china is really invested, do you? think some might get skimmed? Ha!) then slip away right before they let it crash, then by proxy (paper companies, shells) they will use the profits they are taking now to pick up real properties for a nickel on the dollar, exactly the same thing they did with that last great easy credit/bubble/collapse/skim like a madman scam they pulled in 1929. These people are shills and grifters, read between the lines and keep it in mind there is no long term free lunch. They keep selling that fairy tale and will continue to do it until enough people bingo to the fact that it IS a fairy tale.

    Tangibles are where it is at, that and being completely 100% out of debt..anyone reading this-you have been warned, and you can research what I just outlined. You will see this is correct and in the back of your mind you know you have been suspecting it. You know something is wrong but can't put a finger on it. I just outlined it simply. It's a big con run by a handful of very large central banks and investment houses, who control most of the financial media and the money supply. Pretty easy to sell that fairy tale when you control those resources.....

        Act accordingly, and do not wait. They are very close to pulling their next major stunt.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @07:15PM (#16569098)
    1) Obtain fake cards by dumpster diving for rejects
    2) Find way to rob truck when stopped overnight somewhere and swap boxes so no one will notice and so that this "crime" may be repeated.
    3) Sell real cards easily for discount prices and profit!!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @10:18PM (#16571260)
    No one seems to know about this. The problem is huge!

    I work trading parallel channel and used Cisco and the guys in China are shipping out tonnes of stuff. Just search on for cisco. Most of the guys on Ebay the world that pretend to be in HK trading are located in China and are trading fake stuff.

    Most WIC, VWIC, VIC modules available are fake. 2621xm, 2950-24, they have now even started to sell counterfeit PA- board like the PA-2FE-TX. If you want a full list please let me know I will post what is available in the fake market. The list is BIG, even modules for Catalyst 4500's!

    Cisco in HK run a lot of the anti-counterfeit efforts, every few months the close a factory in China, but more keep emerging.

    Some countefeit appearing in USA? USA is the largest counterfeit market in the world. The China guys sell over to the USA to companies, who then distribute back out to the rest of the world. The other biggest consumer of fake Cisco is india. They don't care, they just want cheap prices.

    The problem with the fake stuff is that procurement in companies and even Cisco official channel want better prices and what do they do? They buy from some guy located in say NJ who supplies at 60% off list, who has bought a pile of stuff from Shenzhen, China. The china guys are even able to invent or guess serial numbers, which you can look up on the Cisco site and will check out. The hardware is not the same, not the same Q&A, the failure rate is higher, so if you do save money

    In my experience in 6 years in the business most of the people trading Cisco in China are trading fake goods, the problem is that try make themselves look legitimate and give out HK addresses to people and are ruining the reputation of us legitimate companies in Hong Kong. How to tell? Their phone numbers start with +86755 and not 852. They also always post two email addresses, or exclusively use Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail as the china email systems lose too much mail.

    I have been fighting against this problem since it appeared in November 2002 and it is nightmare to trade original parts.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.