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Network World - Subnets began dropping off the MortgageIT network one after another. Entire bank branches went offline for days as Joe Bruner, network engineering manager there at the time, scrambled to purchase and install replacement parts.
At first, he figured some of the new WAN interface cards (WIC) he recently installed to upgrade 50 Cisco 2811 routers during expansion and reorganization were faulty. But as more routers failed and dropped off the network, Bruner realized he was dealing with fakes.
Thirty cards turned out to be counterfeit, he says. Despite repeated calls and e-mails to his supplier, Atec Group, the issue was not resolved.
Nor did he get an answer to the most important question: How did a registered Cisco reseller (also a platinum Network Appliance partner and gold partner to Microsoft and Symantec) acquire the counterfeit WICs in the first place?
What he didn't know was that phony network equipment had been quietly creeping into sales and distribution channels since early 2004, when manufacturers began seeing more returns, faster mean-time between failures and higher failure rates, says Nick Tidd, vice president of North American channels for 3Com and president of the Alliance for Gray Market and Counterfeit Abatement (AGMA).
Counterfeit gear has become a big problem that could put networks - and health and safety - at risk. "Nobody wants to say they've got counterfeit gear inside their enterprises that can all of a sudden stop working. But it's all over the place, just like pirated software is everywhere," says Sharon Mills, director of IT procurement organization Caucus.