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Cisco takes aim at fakers with anti-piracy tool

Report suggests new system will help govt spot counterfeit kit

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Cisco hopes to strangle the trade in counterfeit versions of its products by launching a tool designed to help US government agencies spot imitations, many of which come from China.

The firm’s senior vice president for public sector, Patrick Finn, told Nextgov that increasing numbers of “rogue partners” pretend to posses Cisco accreditation but are in fact selling bogus software and hardware.

Undercover investigators from the US Government Accountability Office are said to have uncovered 40 quotes for counterfeit parts from online retailers based in China after placing orders for electronics between August 2011 and February 2012.

Cisco has a whole section of its partner site devoted to such matters, including a case study example of a reseller who purchased 40 Cisco 1841 Integrated Services Routers from a broker and sold them on to a government department using the official channels.

However, the department was not satisfied with the provenance of the kit, as Cisco explains :

Cisco traced the serial numbers to the original routers, two of which were installed in a client’s network in Asia Pacific. Cisco Brand Protection team members photographed the serial numbers of the original routers and provided this evidence to the government department.

After further investigation, it was found that the 40 Cisco 1841 Integrated Services Routers had been illegally modified to a Security (K9) bundle, which costs twice the price of a standard version.

Market watcher IHS iSuppli reported last month that the number of ‘high risk’ suppliers selling counterfeit tech products to US government and other customers has grown by two thirds since 2002.

Although the analyst admitted it is difficult to pinpoint the origin of parts, given that key markings are often falsified, China and the US were fingered as the top two locations for suppliers engaged in dodgy dealings.

Last year was a record one for fake parts, with 1363 ‘counterfeit incidents’ reported by iSuppli.

Also in 2011, a Virginia resident and leader of a Hong Kong-based counterfeit ring was jailed for 60 months after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit importation fraud, selling fake Cisco kit and money laundering.

Cisco couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. ®

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