Experts: China must raise level of cyber security

By Zhou Wa (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-02-12 07:58
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Safety gaps leave nation open to threats from hackers, they say

BEIJING - Chinese experts called for more attention to be given to China's cyber security studies on Friday to prevent the nation from falling victim to international hacking attacks.

"China should improve its independent innovation abilities in Internet security, with regard to both technology and management," said Yuan Peng, director of Institute of American Studies with China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

The nation should also strengthen international communication to quell other countries' suspiciousness regarding cyber security, Yuan added.

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Yuan's remarks were directed toward a previous report on Friday in which a US computer security company again raised suspicions of Chinese involvement in cyber attacks.

"Starting in November 2009, coordinated covert and targeted cyber attacks have been conducted against global oil, energy, and petrochemical companies," the California-based company McAfee said in a report, without specifying the companies targeted, according to AFP.

McAfee said it had identified an individual in the eastern Chinese city of Heze, in Shandong province, who provided servers that hosted an application to control the computers of the companies attacked, according to The Associated Press.

Analysts say that McAfee's report will help bolster cyber security studies in the US, because the gap between the US and the emerging countries is narrowing in terms of technologies.

"The US is definitely in a dominant position in the cyber security sector, but emerging economies are making every effort to catch up with the advanced level," said Yuan.

"With McAfee's report, vigilance will be exercised in the US, so the US government will pay more attention to cyber security studies and in consequence give more financial support to the scientists conducting such research."

Meanwhile, cyber security experts said China is likely to once again be made as scapegoat for the hacking attacks.

"Indeed, we cannot exclude the possibility that there might be some individuals in China, who are highly skilled in cyber technology, but the computer in Heze may well have been attacked and controlled by hackers from other countries," said Wen Weiping, associate professor in the Department of Information Security of Peking University.

"China's capability in cyber security is still lagging behind that of the US, and even behind countries like Russia."

Studies have shown that many "China-based" cyber attacks were actually staged by overseas hackers and more than 127,000 attacks on computers in China came from overseas IP addresses in the first half of 2010, the Xinhua News Agency reported in December.

Given the nation's relatively weak cyber security, Chinese experts called for more support for the sector.

"It will definitely be better if we can get more research funding to improve our capability in information security," Wen said.

The US invests two or even three times as much in the sector as China does, he added.