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DorobekInsider: BusinessWeek says DOD dealing with counterfeit computer chips

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BusinessWeek has a really excellent story, which they headline, Dangerous Fakes, about the Defense Department dealing with counterfeit computer components — and how those defective computer components from China are getting into U.S. warplanes and ships.

The American military faces a growing threat of potentially fatal equipment failure—and even foreign espionage—because of counterfeit computer components used in warplanes, ships, and communication networks. Fake microchips flow from unruly bazaars in rural China to dubious kitchen-table brokers in the U.S. and into complex weapons. Senior Pentagon officials publicly play down the danger, but government documents, as well as interviews with insiders, suggest possible connections between phony parts and breakdowns.

In November 2005, a confidential Pentagon-industry program that tracks counterfeits issued an alert that “BAE Systems experienced field failures,” meaning military equipment malfunctions, which the large defense contractor traced to fake microchips. Chips are the tiny electronic circuits found in computers and other gear.

The alert from the Government-Industry Data Exchange Program (GIDEP), reviewed by BusinessWeek, said two batches of chips “were never shipped” by their supposed manufacturer, Maxim Integrated Products in Sunnyvale, Calif. “Maxim considers these parts to be counterfeit,” the alert states. (In response to BusinessWeek’s questions, BAE said the alert had referred erroneously to field failures. The company denied there were any malfunctions.)

Continue reading the story here.

Some of these fakes are being blamed on DOD’s increasing reliance on commercial products.

The same BW team that wrote this story did a great story on the government’s cyber-security initiatives that was on the cover of BusinessWeek back in April. Both stories are well worth reading.

UPDATE: We had BusinessWeek’s Brian Grown on Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris talking about the story. You can hear that interview here. [.mp3]

Written by cdorobek

October 5, 2008 at 10:43 PM

Posted in DOD, press, procurement, security

Tagged with , ,

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