What is believed to be the country's biggest hacker training site has been shut down by police in Central China's Hubei province.
Three people were also arrested, local media reported yesterday.
The three, who ran Black Hawk Safety Net, are suspected of offering others online attacking programs and software, a crime recently added to the Criminal Law. A total of 1.7 million yuan ($249,000) in assets were also frozen.
According to the provincial public security department of Hubei, the closure of the website had its roots in a previous Web attack and virus dissemination case in the city of Macheng in 2007, when police found some of the suspects caught were members of Black Hawk Safety Net.
Hubei province named Black Hawk Safety Net as the largest hacker training site in China, which openly recruited members and disseminated hacker techniques through lessons, trojan software and online forum communications.
Since it was established in 2005, the site had recruited more than 12,000 VIP members and collected more than 7 million yuan in membership fees. More than 170,000 people registered for free membership.
Police said more than 50 officers had been investigating the case.
They seized nine Web servers, five computers and one car, and shut down all the sites involved in the case, according to the provincial public security department.
"I could download trojan programs from the site which allowed me to control other people's computers. I did this just for fun but I also know that many other members could make a fortune by attacking other people's accounts," said a 23-year-old member of Black Hawk Safety Net in Nanjing of East China's Jiangsu province, who asked to remain anonymous.
"It is not very difficult to do simple hacker tasks. Some hacker members are teenagers who dropped out of school and make money by stealing accounts," he said.
A 20-year-old college student who registered with three different hacker training sites said a hacker training course costs from 100 to 2,000 yuan.
"Basically students were told how to steal accounts and use trojan programs. Sometimes trainers show us how to write programs," he said.
"But now it's very difficult to become a registered member. Some well-known hacker training sites have not been accessible since November," he said.
According to a report released by the National Computer Network Emergency Response Coordination Center of China, the hacker industry in China caused losses of 7.6 billion yuan in 2009.