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Cyber espionage? U.S. military uses 'fake' tech products

Posting in Aerospace

According to reports, the U.S. military and other federal agencies are being sold fake technological products.

CNN writes that a number of products, ranging from missiles to routers, smart weapons to aerospace parts, are being used by federal agencies once "high risk" companies slip past the net and enter governmental supply chains.

Sales to federal departments -- from the U.S. military to the government itself -- are allegedly being made by markets being flooded with companies that are not trustworthy. According to a study conducted by supply chain management consultancy IHS, the presence of these firms within governmental supply chains has risen 63 percent in the past decade.

IHS also says that the number of fake technological products has quadrupled since 2011, and it's not only consumers that can bear the brunt of scams. Last year, 9,539 businesses that are considered risky and are ultimately banned from selling to governments were found to have broken the restriction, and approximately 10 percent of these sold parts or high-tech equipment.

In 2010, the Missile Defense Agency found that the memory chips within a missile computer were fake, and solving the problem cost the agency close to $3 million. However, this was a small price to pay instead of missiles launching with the counterfeit part left undetected.

China is considered one of the main sources for counterfeit goods to reach high-security supply chains. In last year alone, 62 percent of the fake goods market -- worth an estimated street value of $1.1 billion -- were seized by U.S. government border protection after being imported from the Asian country.

Potentially, counterfeit goods could result not only in national security risks, but become a threat to the general public. From malfunctioning missiles to short-circuits in airplanes, unless measures are taken to protect governmental supply, there could be wide-ranging consequences.

The U.S. General Services Administration has built a database with over 90,000 risky suppliers recorded to try and combat the issue, and NASA has implemented high standards and checks for its vendors. However, as the West becomes more reliant on technology, more steps may have to be taken.

Rory King, supply chain director at IHS, noted to CNN:

"There's an enormous amount of risk associated with counterfeit parts, not just to the men and women of our armed services, but for consumers as well. Military and aerospace get the majority of attention, but if a counterfeit part were to escape into minivan's braking system, you've got a huge issue on your hands."

(via CNN)

Image credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers

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— By on November 11, 2012, 9:00 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure