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Too many computers are compromised by counterfeit components

Counterfeit hardware represents a critical threat to individual and corporate cybersecurity.

Tim Sandle using a computer to create a Digital Journal article. — Image © Tim Sandle
Tim Sandle using a computer to create a Digital Journal article. — Image © Tim Sandle

Computer manufacturers may include life threatening components. This is a concern if certain chips from old electronics are not disposed of properly. Another risk scenario arises from counterfeit hardware, which can compromise cybersecurity. Here counterfeiters are becoming more sophisticated, utilizing impeccable component finishes as well as seemingly perfect paperwork trails for counterfeit chips.

It could be that up to 80 percent of global computers are compromised, not by email scams or nefarious hackers, but by something much more sinister lurking within the very hardware itself—counterfeit parts.

A recent survey reveals these bogus components may come preloaded with malware, an unseen threat that could wreak havoc on a system, and by extension, its data. This article aims to unravel the dark world of the counterfeit hardware market and offer guidance on discerning genuine parts from fakes, helping you keep your devices secure.

Counterfeit hardware represents a critical threat to individual and corporate cybersecurity. Parts that seem innocuous and genuine may carry hidden malicious software programs—malware—that can silently steal information, damage systems, or allow unauthorized access to networks.

Looking at this issue, Geonode Technology Expert Josh Gordon tells Digital Journal: “Counterfeit hardware is cybercrime’s Trojan horse. By integrating malware into the very fabric of a system, cybercriminals can bypass many security defenses unnoticed, opening a back door to your most vulnerable data.”

In terms of identifying counterfeit parts in your computer, Gordon advises:

Quality and Craftsmanship

Genuine parts are typically high-quality products. Counterfeit components often show poor craftsmanship, with visibly low-quality materials and may have misspellings, inconsistent fonts, or incorrect logos.


If a deal seems too good to be true, it likely is. Genuine parts from trusted manufacturers carry heftier price tags due to the cost of design, materials, and rigorous testing.


Genuine parts come with proper documentation such as guarantees, invoices, and certification of origin. Counterfeit products often lack such support, providing vague or missing documents.

Purchase Wisely

Buy hardware from trusted retailers and suppliers. Check for certification or authorized reseller status with prominent manufacturers.

Run Routine Checks

Regularly use software like antiviruses, authenticator apps, or firmware verification to scan your system for hidden threats.

Report Suspected Counterfeits

If you suspect a counterfeit, inform the appropriate local authority. Reporting helps fight the counterfeit market and prevents others from falling prey to it.

Gordon advises: “Being proactive in identifying and mitigating risks is the hallmark of effective cybersecurity.”

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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