Operation Ci$co Raider

An interesting announcement was recently made about an international crackdown on importers and retailers of “counterfeit network hardware” – basically fake name-brand network routers, mainly from – or, rather, purporting to be from – Cisco. “Counterfeit network hardware entering the marketplace raises significant public safety concerns and must be stopped,” said the Assistant Attorney General involved in the operation. Does it really? Does everything have to be about security and safety these days?

Now, counterfeiting is – obviously! – a crime, and a fairly serious one at that. However, suggesting that this was done for some sort of noble-sounding security reason would seem to ignore a certain painful fact about doing business with China. As most adults – outside the federal government, anyway – are probably aware, a whole lot of stuff gets made in China these days. Not just toys, with or without lead-based paints, but electronic devices by the, literally, millions. Chinese business ethics being what they are, most of those factories which produce “name brand” products for big-name companies quite frequently sell the exact same products, made on the exact same production lines from the exact same components under a new, third-party brand. Sometimes, the cosmetics are different, but the internals remain the same; other times, the only difference is the name painted on the case.

Yeah, China produces a lot of god-awful third-rate crap. But most of the rebadged “clones” are identical in every way to their (more expensive) name-brand counterparts. If people hadn’t been misrepresenting these devices as “genuine” Cisco devices, but simply flooding the market with inexpensive, off-brand “clone” switches, routers, and so on, would the government still be warning of the danger to “public safety”?

I don’t want to sound cynical, but I can’t help but note that this fraud – which it most assuredly was – didn’t really affect individuals, but only, or mainly, businesses. Cisco products aren’t really “consumer” goods. Would the government be getting as excited if they discovered that, say, millions of dollars of “fake” 3Com, BroadCom, or NetGear “consumer” products were being sold in this country? I doubt it…

If you’re really serious about cracking down on fake electronics, then please, dear Justice Department, do something about the hundreds of thousands of fake SanDisk products sold in this country every year – fake USB drives, memory cards, and so on… stuff bought and used everyday by, you know, voters?

What’s that? Deafening silence? Yeah, I thought so…

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General, Security | on March 5th, 2008| Comments Off on Operation Ci$co Raider

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