Feeds

FBI probe discovers counterfeit kit in US military networks

Operation Cisco Raider gets arrests

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

An FBI probe has uncovered the use of counterfeit networking kit by the US military, but subsequent investigations suggest a counterfeit ring more interested in money making - rather than espionage - was behind the scam.

Operation Cisco Raider led to the prosecution of 15 criminal cases involving the use of knock-off networking kit within US military systems, military contractors and utilities. The two-year investigation, involving the execution of 36 warrants, discovered 3,500 counterfeit Cisco network components valued at around $3.5m. Suspects in the suspected counterfeiting ring have been arrested in China, following cooperation between the US and Chinese authorities, the New York Times reports.

Possibilities that the bogus kit might have contained backdoors raised possible security concerns. However, Cisco has failed to uncover evidence to back up warnings from FBI agents, presented to a meeting of the Office of Management and Budget back in January and subsequently linked to the website Above Top Secret, that counterfeit gear may contain a secret backdoor.

"We did not find any evidence of re-engineering in the manner that was described in the FBI presentation," Cisco spokesman John Noh told the NYT, adding that people making and using fake Cisco gear are probably simply interested in turning a quick profit.

Possible espionage concerns in counterfeit hardware were underlined by research from boffins from the University of Illinois, who presented a paper in April explaining how they were able to modify a Sun Microsystems SPARC microprocessor to effectively create a hardwired backdoor capable of logging passwords or other sensitive data. The backdoor was created by altering part of the blueprints for the chip, which contains around 1.8m circuits.

A system such as this hidden in hardware would be very difficult to detect. Creating such a system would be well beyond the capabilities of common or garden hackers, but not intelligence agencies. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights
Lobbies tetchy MPs 'to end indiscriminate online surveillance'
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.