Corporate IT at risk from knocked-off electronics

What's inside your servers?

What's inside your servers?

Corporate IT systems are at risk from the flood of counterfeit electronics entering the UK each year, an industry body has warned.

According to trade body UK Electronics Alliance (UKEA), millions of pirate electronic components ranging from CPUs to memory are in danger of being used by businesses and the public sector.

UKEA member Roger Rogowski warned that the long and complicated web of people involved in supplying parts to systems manufacturers makes it difficult for even the largest businesses to avoid parts originating from unofficial channels, known as the "grey market".

"There is a huge risk that some of these counterfeit electronic components could end up inside the datacentre," he told

"They are finding their way not only into business applications but also into high-end industrial and even defence and aerospace applications.

"When they are finding their way into critical systems such as application-process-control equipment, or transport signalling systems, there is a far higher risk associated with the components failing."

However, failures attributed to counterfeit parts often go undetected, according to Rogowski, due to the costs associated with tracing faults to component level.

Manufacturers trying to source either very new or old parts that are not being manufactured in high volumes are forced to rely on getting parts from the grey market, where the origin of components is no longer clear, Rogowski claimed.

"The UKEA estimates that £1bn of counterfeit electronics are coming into the UK market. It is mainly more expensive parts such as CPUs or memory but even simple components such as transistors and diodes are being counterfeited," he added.

This week the UK Intellectual Property Office launched a toolkit to advise businesses on how to spot counterfeit products and protect goods against being copied.

David Lammy, minister of state for intellectual property, said in a statement: "IP crime is a serious global issue with tens of billions of pounds worth of counterfeit goods seized across national borders each year."