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The Threat Posed by Fake Cisco Parts

An FBI report says counterfeit components from China could help foreign agents penetrate secure systems

The prosecution of an American company called Syren Technology offers a tantalizing hint of the espionage threat posed by fake Chinese computer parts. But so far neither U.S. law enforcement nor industry has publicly produced evidence of this kind of high-tech spying.

Syren's proprietors, brothers Michael and Robert Edman, were indicted in Houston in December 2007 for selling counterfeit Cisco Systems (CSCO) computer gear to the Marine Corps, Air Force, and "multiple defense contractors." Federal prosecutors allege that the Edmans acquired the fake routers and other equipment from an "unindicted co-conspirator...who lives in China and sells counterfeit Cisco products using various company names, including Cyberstar Company Ltd. and Netwave Company Ltd." The Edmans have pleaded not guilty, contending that they didn't realize they were dealing in counterfeit equipment.