Small business owners have a lot on their minds. Trusting that their technology investments are reliable and work properly shouldn’t be one of them.

Small business budgets are tight, especially now, during the pandemic recovery. Since they must keep track of every dollar spent—and ensure that they get the anticipated bang for their buck—it’s understandable that they might be swayed by a seemingly lower-cost version of a Cisco product that they found online. Why pay for a smart switch from a trusted partner when another site offers it for a fraction of the price?

Unfortunately, counterfeit, pirated, or unauthorized versions of Cisco products have found their way into the digital marketplace. And beyond lost revenue for Cisco and our partners—and damage to our brand and relationships—it also means lost value, or worse, for our customers.

 Whether purchased knowingly or inadvertently, unauthorized products can significantly harm a small business, for whom the margins of error are slim to nil. Fraudulent products may be unreliable or offer poor quality, or not function as expected. And then, once they aren’t working properly, they aren’t covered under warranty or service support, leaving the small business owner truly in the lurch. What entrepreneur has time to troubleshoot their technology, when they’re otherwise busy making payroll, managing schedules, servicing their customers, or the other myriad tasks that occupy their days?

In addition, these products may pose risks to safety compliance or even compromise their network and data integrity. It is easy to imagine that, if a small business’s customer data were to be hacked, those customers’ trust in that small business would be irreparably broken. Or imagine that a beloved bakery’s proprietary recipes were leaked, representing an existential threat all on its own. In these ways, a bad problem—a fraudulent product—snowballs into a major problem, with significant cost and unnecessary headaches and heartaches for the already beleaguered small business owner.

The Fight against Fraud

Cisco is committed to stamping out these risks for our small business customers. We have invested heavily in our Brand Protection team, which works 24/7 to combat these threats. First, we have developed state-of-the-art security features embedded in all our products. From carton labels to holographic indicators—like those used in passports and currencies—there are many ways Cisco makes it easy to determine if you’ve got the real deal or an imposter. For further peace of mind, we encourage partners and customers to validate their purchase by visiting our BuyRight site, where you can easily enter the serial numbers on the product to confirm whether your product is Cisco-guaranteed.

Second, we robustly engage with our ecosystem of partners to make sure they don’t get stuck with fake Cisco products that erode their revenue opportunities or their reputation. As my colleague Oliver Tuszik reports, our Brand Protection team partners with governments and customs offices around the world to identify and help seize these counterfeits wherever they may appear. We also actively screen and scrutinize new partner registrations every day to ensure that each and every one of our partners are fully compliant with local and national trade laws.

Cisco’s Big Love for Small Business

Our commitment to the integrity of our products extends to all of our customers and partners, naturally, but for our small business owners, we recognize that the threat of fraud is outsized. Lost value, lost time, lost business—these are threats that small businesses cannot afford. As the big company that loves small businesses, we strive to do everything we can to mitigate these risks and ensure that our customers #BuyRight with Cisco, every time.

Visit Cisco’s Brand Protection site to learn more. Partners can contact the Cisco Brand Protection team via email at brandprotection@cisco.com or submit in our online form to clarify any concerns and disclose any suspicious activity they see.



Sarah Eccleston

Vice President, Small Business Segment

Growth Marketing