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Avoiding & Detecting Counterfeit Cisco

A Chat with Mike Sheldon, Curvature’s CEO

Mike Sheldon, CEO

Last week, NetworkWorld sat down with Mike SheldonCEO of Curvature and President of UNEDA, for a live chat about counterfeit Cisco equipment, including detection best practices and steps IT managers can take to protect their networks. If you missed the session, you can read the transcript on

The following is an excerpt from our chat. With more than 100 participants, topics ranged from detection tips to curiosity about Cisco’s lack of cooperation.



Concerned: There have been a lot of articles written about the FBI’s Cisco Raider sting. Cisco Gold partners were caught selling counterfeits into government accounts. How can this happen? I thought only gray market companies sold counterfeit.

Mike_Sheldon: Just so everyone is one the same page, “Cisco Raider” is the FBI’s name of an ongoing multi-agency counter-counterfeiting initiative. Yes, the main culprit in the FBI’s quietly circulated PowerPoint was counterfeit sellers (many from eBay) selling to GSA-approved vendors who would then resell on to the government, and many of these GSA vendors were Cisco authorized partners. The channel community sells boxes, the secondary market sells individually used pieces of hardware. I think if you deal with a trustworthy channel partner, who buys from Cisco directly, you are totally covered – but good secondary market vendors are no more the source of counterfeits than Ingram or Comstor. It’s the low-end bottom feeders that are the issue.

Pre-submitted question: What kinds of gear are most commonly counterfeit these days?

Mike_Sheldon: GBICS and SFPs, WIC, VWIC, VIC, and NM cards are the most common. But it’s important to realize that the efforts of the secondary market and the FBI and others seem to be working – even within these products we see many fewer counterfeit cards than in 2002.

JoeT: Mike – I understand that most of the “new” WIC, PA and NM cards on eBay are actually fake/counterfeit. I complained to my eBay rep but they tell me that only Cisco has the right to complain because it is the “intellectual rights” owner. It looks like Cisco is totally ignoring the hundreds of fake items on eBay. Why do you think Cisco is ignoring this problem?

Mike_Sheldon: Type WIC-1ENET into eBay and look at the products sold, $15 each and “new in bulk pack”, and at least one seller boasts of its “premier Cisco partner” status right on the posting. FYI, Cisco does not sell WICs in bulk packaging and my average cost used is over $60 each. So you are right, eBay’s VERO program depends on the IP owner – Cisco – to police the site. I honestly do not know why these are allowed to exist – perhaps being able to sow fear and uncertainty about the secondary market is more valuable than eliminating the problem.

Read more at:
Learn More about How Curvature Protects You from Counterfeit Networking Equipment
Interested in other Network World Blogs by Mike Sheldon? Read more here.

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