New laws close in on hackers

By Yan Jie (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-02-02 07:23
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China is world's biggest victim of cyber attacks, experts say

China's criminal laws will keep evolving as the country is stepping up its efforts in the crackdown on cyber attacks, the official People's Daily has reported on its website.

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The Ministry of Public Security is working with the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the country's two top judicial bodies, to introduce more judicial interpretations on Internet-based crimes and hackers, the paper quoted an unnamed official from the ministry as saying on Sunday.

"Meanwhile, the police will continue to escalate the clamp down on the crimes committed by hackers," said the official. "We will deal a blow to these crimes down to the roots."

Profits from cyber attacks are believed to cause the hacker group to swell in China.

The rogue netizens have made China the world's biggest victim of cyber attacks, according to the China National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team (CNCERT), a national Internet security watchdog.

In 2009, the police investigated more than 2,183 cases involving hacker attacks, according to the public security ministry.

The dire circumstances have made the country's judicial bodies and police force buckle down to plug the gap between penalties and crimes.

After an amendment of its criminal law early last year, China started to punish across board illegal intrusions of computer systems anywhere, in addition to computer systems for national affairs, national defense and top-tier sciences and technologies, which were already being covered.

The amendment also targets the act of providing computer programs for illegally intruding and controlling computer systems.

Later in the same year, China defined two new kinds of hacker-related crimes - the illegal acquisition of computer system data or control of computer systems, and the supply of programs or tools for the purpose of intrusion or illegal control of computer systems.

"The newly-defined articles filled the vacuum in the criminal law system," said Yu Zhigang, a professor with the China University of Political Science and Law.

Last year, the police in China busted 476 hacker-attack cases with the help of the definition of the two new cyber-based crimes, and nabbed 1,057 criminals.

The police, however, are still faced with growing difficulties in the crackdown on hackers. Most of the trojan-tainted websites are hosted overseas, such as in the United States, making it hard for China's police to cut off the sources of cyber attacks.

On average, overseas-based hackers compromise nearly 2,000 government websites in China per month, data from the public security ministry showed.

Overseas phishing websites that counterfeit official websites of Chinese banks have caused huge economic losses to netizens in China, the data showed.