‘White-hat’ hack­ers key force in cybersecurity

Ama­teur ex­perts are help­ing to spot po­ten­tial loop­holes, as Cao Yin re­ports.

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA -

Avery small of­fice near the Sixth Ring Road in Beijing houses a very big dream, one that’s shared by thou­sands of In­ter­net se­cu­rity en­thu­si­asts across China.

The of­fice is the home of Wooyun, the coun­try’s largest on­line com­mu­nity of “white­hat” hack­ers — pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als who de­lib­er­ately hack cor­po­rate and gov­ern­ment com­puter sys­tems to de­tect and ex­pose se­cu­rity loop­holes and help pre­vent cy­ber­at­tacks.

Their dream is to build the ul­ti­mate, im­preg­nable cy­ber­fortress.

Fang Xiao­dun, one of the com­mu­nity’s co-founders, said that un­like reg­u­lar hack­ers, who dis­cover se­cu­rity risks or po­ten­tial sites of at­tack in the hope of fi­nan­cial gain, “our aim is to use the ad­van­tage our com­put­ing or on­line skills give us to do good deeds in cy­berspace”.

As far­backas2010, Fangfre­quently spent his week­ends at a cafe with employees of Chi­nese In­ter­net gi­ants, such as Baidu, a Chi­nese search en­gine, discussing on­line se­cu­rity prob­lems and how to solve them.

“We shared the dis­cov­er­ies we had made at our own com­pa­nies, and of­ten found that some of the prob­lems were sim­i­lar. But lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and the fact that we worked for dif­fer­ent busi­nesses meant that all of us had solved them our­selves,” Fang, 28, said.

At the time, Fang and his se­cu­rity-con­scious friends planted a seed that would lead to the foun­da­tion of a plat­form where re­ports of po­ten­tial se­cu­rity loop­holes could be re­ceived and for­warded to the rel­e­vant par­ties.

The plat­form is Wooyun, founded in July 2010 by 10 on­line se­cu­rity ex­perts. Five years later, the com­puter and In­ter­net watch­dog has a team of more than 30 core employees, plus about 20,000 on­line mem­bers. Now it is at­tempt­ing to ex­tend its reach over­seas, help­ing to de­tect global se­cu­rity loop­holes and discussing how to pre­vent or solve them, Fang said.

“Cybersecurity is an is­sue with­out bound­aries, and some­times things need to be shared and solved via an in­ter­na­tional think tank,” he said, adding that the plat­form’s work is not only cru­cial to the pro­tec­tion of

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