VANCOUVER, B.C. &mdash China's security community is more concerned with vulnerabilities in its own computer networks than leveling attacks at the United States and other western countries, a white-hat hacker told attendees at the CanSecWest Security Conference on Thursday.
With 260 million Internet users, an underground malware industry and laws that are just catching up with cybercrime, China has a major security problem on its network, Zhao Wei, CEO of KnownSec, said during a presentation at the conference. In a recent case, for example, a group of white-hat security researchers tracked down a locus of 3,000 compromised Web sites that were infecting about 4 million unique IPs every day.
The assertions counter U.S. policy makers and security experts that blame China for attack emanating from its servers. Zhao stressed that even domestic cyber attacks that his company helped track down in China jumped to foreign servers before terminating in China.
"All other countries know we have poor security, so they come through our servers," Zhao said. "If Chinese hackers wanted to attack the U.S., it would be stupid to do it from China."
A number of nations have protested attacks targeting their systems that come from China's Internet address space. Government officials in the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, India and Belgium have voiced warnings of systematic attacks emanating from China. Last June, U.S. legislators revealed that attackers using servers in China had stolen information from their systems, and over the summer, attackers using similar IP addresses stole information from the presidential campaigns of John McCain and Barack Obama.
Other data, however, supports Zhao's assertions. Last fall, SecureWorks announced that China and the U.S. were the countries with the most computers compromised by botnets. And last June, McAfee found that the Chinese territory of Hong Kong and the People's Republic of China are home to the largest fraction of malicious Web sites.
Zhao, who uses the online handle "icbm," said that new cybercrime laws in China could help the country go after the country's increasingly brazen hackers. Many members of the underground community have public contests to see who can make $1 million off their crime, complete with screen shots of their banks account statements, he said.
"Our problem in China is that we have a very bad local security problem," Zhao said. "The U.S. sees attacks, but to us that does not matter, because we have to solve our own problems."
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Posted by: Robert Lemos