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[ISN] Symantec: Chinese hackers grow in number, skills
By Jeremy Kirk
IDG News Service
China's hacking scene appears poised for growth, as the number of
Internet users rise with a commensurate interest in criminal hacking and
government spying, according to a new Symantec study.
"China’s hacking scene is clearly an active one," the report said.
"These individuals and groups are known for discovering vulnerabilities,
writing exploit code and developing sophisticated hacking techniques."
China ranks second behind the U.S. as far as malicious activity on the
Internet as a whole, Symantec said, citing its own data. The country had
131 million Internet users as of the end of 2006, accounting for about
10 percent of its population and 11 percent of the world's Internet
A well-known cyberwar between Chinese and American hackers erupted in
April 2001 following the collision of a U.S. military spy plane and
Chinese fighter. U.S. government Web sites were hacked and defaced with
slogans such as "Beat down imperialism of American," courtesy of a group
calling itself the Honker Union of China.
Not to be out-hacked, U.S. hackers responded over China's handling of
the incident, which involved an awkward demand for an apology.
But perhaps more disturbing have been the efficient ways Chinese hackers
are believed to have obtained sensitive information. In June 2004, South
Korea was reportedly victimized by a concerted attack using Trojan horse
programs -- which appear harmless but have malicious functions -- to
pilfer classified documents on weapons systems.
In total, 211 South Korean government computers are believed to have
been compromised, in addition to 67 other machines belonging to
companies, media groups and universities, according to Symantec.
Chinese computer gurus have also experimented with the "pump-and-dump"
scheme, a trick used to inflate stock prices for profit, Symantec said.
Starting in October 2004, a group used a Trojan horse to steal account
details for users of several online stock traders, then used the
accounts to run-up certain stocks.
The victims lost more than $1.3 million, with the attackers profiting
But in recent years, some of the bad guys have come clean, starting up
their own computer security companies. China now has about six antivirus
vendors, in addition to a number of computer security research and
However, there's "growing concern of an escalated cyber threat from
China, from the perspective of both governments and enterprises,"
The IDG News Service is a Network World affiliate.
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