Some months ago, my contacts in the defense industry alerted me to a startling development that has escalated to the point of near-panic in nearly all corners of Government security and IT infrastructure. The concern: a high number of counterfeit Cisco routers and switches installed in government networks that experienced upgrades and/or new units within the past 18 months.
The US government has been attempting to avoid these issues by only using higher-end Cisco partners/suppliers; however, the highly competitive lowest-bid environment of government procurement has inspired several vendors to look for cheap alternatives for hardware ...
A few weeks ago, my sources provided information on a scathing investigation summary by the FBI. They've indicated that a critical Powerpoint document has been quietly circulating after a few internal presentations.
As you can see, the FBI is concerned about critical infrastructure damage, AND, the potential of access to secure government systems. Many have been speculating that the counterfeit hardware will provide backdoor capabilities and access into compromised networks for the originators of the equipment. In fact, some areas of speculation regarding the counterfeit Cisco equipment has focused on the possibility that the hardware is being manufactured expressly to deploy exploitable systems far and wide into the wild. The rationale being that the likely "wholesale" price of the counterfeit routers and switches are so low and profit margins likely very thin, that the only real advantage may be gained from downstream system exploits in the future.
The threat is real. Compromised hardware of potentially hostile foreign origin sits within secure networks of the US government, military, and intelligence services. And as you now see, the FBI has been concerned about it.
Graphic file export of the FBI's Powerpoint document slides.