Counterfeit routers installed in U.S. networks

May 9, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Fake computer parts installed on sensitive U.S. Government and military systems are posing a major threat.

Sensitive cyber information meant only for top U.S. agencies, like the FBI, Marine Corps, and Air Force, may be exposed. An FBI unclassified power point presentation outlines how the government wound up with more than a million dollars worth of counterfeit routers and switches from China, instead of Cisco.

"This could be somebody who's just trying to make a buck selling cheap equipment as if it's more expensive, or it could be someone who's trying to pilpher data" says Larry Magid, a tech analyst.

Magid questions the intentions of the Chinese vendor, who sold the fake parts to the government. He thinks it's financial gain.

"It's unlikely that classified data will be routed to China, but the mere fact that it's possible is rather chilling," said Magid.

Routers are key because they connect the computer to the internet. A lot of information passes through here, information that can be rerouted to an unsecure place if programmed correctly.

"It could be the worst nightmare in some respect, in all honesty, because you have access to very sensitive networks," says Tim Tuck, a computer security consultant with Pervasive Networks.

Tuck thinks it's a real possibility that hackers could gain access.

"It could instantaneously take and fry all the hardware, it could take down everything," says Tim Tuck.

Agents hope search warrants issued in this country will lead to answers in China.

U.S. officials have not accused the Chinese Government of any involvement.


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