Illustration for article titled Fake Electronic Components Cause Military Malfunctions, Possibly International Espionage

BusinessWeek reports that counterfeit hardware has been found to be the cause of several malfunctions in high-level military machinery. The phony infiltration has a distinct possibility of leading to espionage or sabotage. In other words, move over, Meizu M8: you're not the biggest faker in town anymore.Several crashes of military aircraft can be attributed to knockoff chips, but more insidiously, internal military data might be at risk. Melissa E. Hathaway, a head of cybersecurity at the FBI, says, "Counterfeit products have been linked to the crash of mission-critical networks, and may also contain hidden 'back doors' enabling network security to be bypassed and sensitive data accessed [by hackers, thieves, and spies]." Robert P. Ernst, who investigates counterfeiting for the U.S. Navy, estimates that 15% of the spare or replacement microchips bought by the Pentagon are fake. Where do these parts actually come from? Made in, as BusinessWeek colorfully puts it, the "Chinese hinterland," a lot of these components are made on the cheap and sold to the government for much less than name-brands can offer. To be fair, no evidence of terrifying espionage has been found; all of the problems are due to crappy chips failing to work at the worst times, which really should have been expected, since the military has been paying half the price for the same product. But you can start to take off that tin foil hat, because steps are being taken. After the inquiries the military has decided to effect a rule requiring the source of all chips be ascertained before they place a bid. I'm satisfied, aren't you? [BusinessWeek]


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