FBI bought $3.5 million in counterfeit networking parts

The FBI recently discovered it had been duped into buying about 3,500 parts that were not genuine Cisco products.

Among the fake parts purchased were routers, switches, interface converters, and WAN cards. There was some concern initially that these parts could pose a potential security risk, allowing hackers access to sensitive data.

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Those concerns were later alleviated when further research showed that there was no reason to believe the components put computer systems at risk, sources told Reuters on Friday.

FBI officials apparently never intended to make the issue public -- discovery of the existence of any investigation only came recently when a FBI slide presentation made it onto the website abovetopsecret.com

When asked about the document, officials confirmed that the investigation had spanned across nine of the agencys federal offices.

The parts were manufactured in China, although the US procured them through several different resellers in the United States, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and Britain. Other parts were reportedly purchased from eBay.

Counterfeiting of Cisco parts is a large scale affair: approximately 400 seizures have taken place worldwide with a value of about $76 million.

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