Earlier this year, reports in trade journals claimed that the FBI was investigating reports that counterfeit Cisco equipment had been installed in networks at US government agencies and in the military and that this equipment may contain a "back door" which allows access to those networks. In late February, reports stated that the US Department of Justice had seized nearly $80 million worth of counterfeit Cisco equipment.
Concerns were raised recently that the problem could be prevalent in Israel as well, since the Ministry of Defense uses Cisco equipment extensively in various communications projects. The ministry told "Globes", "The equipment that the ministry buys from Cisco is original equipment of the company, and there is no connection to the counterfeit equipment discovered in security breaches."
Six weeks ago, Cisco executive VP Randy Pond, the number two man in the company, visited Israel. The visit was described as routine, and there were also reports that he would met defense officials, as the Ministry of Defense and the defense establishment are important Cisco customers in Israel.
However, it may be possible that Pond's visit was also intended to explain to large Israeli customers, especially the IDF, about the counterfeit equipment, especially since the visit came a few weeks after the story broke.
The Ministry of Defense said in response, "Pond did not discuss the matter of the counterfeit equipment during his visit because the issue is irrelevant to the Ministry of Defense."
According to reports in the US, the US military is not sure how to deal with the problem of the counterfeit equipment or how to replace it without damaging networks. Reports also claim that replacing the counterfeit equipment could activate dormant programs or Trojan horses that might allow unauthorized access or damage the networks.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 28, 2008
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