Crack­down tar­gets cy­ber black mar­ket

An es­ti­mated 560,000 peo­ple were en­gaged in the in­dus­try in first six months of the year

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By CAO YIN caoyin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China has ex­pe­ri­enced an in­crease in cases of on­line data leaks in the past few years due to the de­vel­op­ment of the “cy­ber black mar­ket”, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the Shang­hai Academy of So­cial Sciences’ In­sti­tute of In­for­ma­tion.

The An­nual Re­port on De­vel­op­ment of Cy­berspace Se­cu­rity in China, which the in­sti­tute re­leased on Mon­day, says that cases re­lat­ing to in­for­ma­tion leaks have be­come more fre­quent since last year, such as the high-pro­file case in­volv­ing Gfan— the coun­try’s largest on­line plat­form for An­droid sys­tems — in which data of the plat­form’s more than 23 mil­lion users, in­clud­ing their names, pass­words and email ad­dresses, were pub­lished on the in­ter­net.

It said that eco­nomic losses from June last year to June this year re­sult­ing from text mes­sage spam, on­line scams and in­for­ma­tion leaks to­taled 91.5 bil­lion yuan ($13.3 bil­lion).

Such losses were at­trib­uted to the cy­ber black mar­ket, a com­mer­cial chain where par­tic­i­pants such as hack­ers and net­work op­er­a­tors gain prof­its il­le­gally, it said, adding that the in­dus­try is a grow­ing multi­bil­lion­dol­lar econ­omy.

“In the past, hack­ers con­ducted cy­ber­at­tacks for fun, or to show off their hack­ing skills, but now they op­er­ate as busi­nesses, gain­ing money through uti­liz­ing their tech­niques, such as steal­ing per­sonal in­for­ma­tion and sell­ing it,” said Zhang Huap­ing, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor spe­cial­iz­ing in cy­ber­se­cu­rity at Bei­jing In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy.

“Cy­ber­se­cu­rity is­sues used to re­late to the ac­tions of in­di­vid­u­als, but in re­cent years, hack­ers have started mak­ing deals with net­work busi­ness­men, earn­ing a per­cent­age of the prof­its,” Zhang said.

On Thurs­day, a re­port on cy­ber­se­cu­rity by Chi­nese in­ter­net gi­ant Ten­cent said that on­line so­cial plat­forms with an abun­dance of per­sonal in­for­ma­tion have be­come the most pop­u­lar space for those work­ing on the cy­ber black mar­ket prof­its.

It es­ti­mated that at least 560,000 peo­ple en­gaged in the in­dus­try inthe first six months this year, in­volv­ing more than 148.2 bil­lion yuan.

Qi­hoo 360, China’s largest se­cu­rity soft­ware provider, said in Novem­ber last year that at least 1.6 mil­lion peo­ple are en­gaged in the cy­ber fraud, with their an­nual out­put value sur­pass­ing 110 bil­lion yuan.

Pei Zhiy­ong, a cy­ber­se­cu­rity spe­cial­ist atQi­hoo 360, said: “A sim­ple fraud op­er­a­tion needs a team of at least 10 peo­ple, while a fraud chain has more than 15 links. The work of each par­tic­i­pant is clear. Some take charge of send­ing text mes­sage scams, while oth­ers are re­spon­si­ble for de­sign­ing fraud pro­grams, for ex­am­ple.”

Ex­perts said some­times such fraud re­sults is more than just fi­nan­cial losses.

In Au­gust, Xu Yuyu, an 18-year-old from Linyi, Shan­dong prov­ince, died of a heart at­tack af­ter los­ing 9,900 yuan ($1,500) in a phone scam. The money had been saved to cover her col­lege tu­ition fees.

Peng Yang, a pro­fes­sor spe­cial­iz­ing in big data and in­for­ma­tion se­cu­rity at Bei­jing Univer­sity of Posts and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, said that the cy­ber black mar­ket has dis­turbed nor­mal­mar­ket or­der as well as net­work com­pe­ti­tion.

“The fight against the cy­ber black mar­ket is not hard, as we can trace how data is re­leased on­line,” Peng said. “The prob­lem is that there are no laws defin­ing the in­dus­try as il­le­gal.”

Ex­perts said the most ef­fec­tive way of ad­dress­ing the prob­lem is to pass leg­is­la­tion on pro­tect­ing in­for­ma­tion and clar­ify gov­ern­men­tal de­part­ments’ obli­ga­tions on law en­force­ment and su­per­vi­sion. to gain il­licit

in eco­nomic losses were due to text mes­sage spam, on­line scams and in­for­ma­tion leaks from June last year to June this year.

HUANG JINKUN / FOR CHINA DAILY

A po­lice­woman ex­plains how to pre­vent in­for­ma­tion from be­ing stolen in a shop­ping mall in Shenyang, Liaon­ing prov­ince, in Septem­ber.

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