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Hacker alleges data theft of major Chinese citizens

#Hacker #alleges #data #theft #major #Chinese #citizens

A hacker who claims to have stolen personal information from hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens is now selling the information online.

A sample of 750,000 entries posted online by the hacker showed the citizens’ names, cell phone numbers, national ID numbers, addresses, birthdays and police reports they had submitted.

AFP and cybersecurity experts have confirmed some of the citizen data in the sample as authentic, but the scope of the entire database is difficult to determine.

Advertised on a forum late last month but only picked up this week by cybersecurity experts, the 23 terabyte database – which the hacker claims contains the records of a billion Chinese citizens – is being sold for 10 bitcoins (about $200,000 ) sold.

“It looks like it comes from multiple sources. Some are facial recognition systems, others appear to be census data,” said Robert Potter, co-founder of cybersecurity firm Internet 2.0.

“There is no verification of the total number of records and I am skeptical about the figure of one billion citizens,” he added.

China maintains an extensive nationwide surveillance infrastructure that siphons vast amounts of data from its citizens, ostensibly for security reasons.

Growing public awareness of privacy has led to stricter privacy laws targeting individuals and private businesses in recent years, although there is little citizens can do to prevent the state from collecting their data.

Some of the leaked data appeared to come from records kept by express couriers, while other entries included summaries of incidents reported to Shanghai police over a period of more than a decade, with the most recent dating back to 2019.

Incident reports ranged from traffic accidents and petty theft to rape and domestic violence.

– ‘heads will roll’ –

At least four of over a dozen people contacted by AFP confirmed their personal information, such as names and addresses, as listed in the database.

“That’s why so many people have added my WeChat in the last few days. Should I report this to the police?” said a woman surnamed Hao.

“I’m really confused as to why my personal information was leaked,” said another woman, surnamed Liu.

In responses to the original post, users speculated that the data may have been hacked from an Alibaba Cloud server where it appears to have been stored by the Shanghai police.

Potter, the cybersecurity analyst, confirmed that the files were hacked by Alibaba Cloud, which did not respond to an AFP request for comment.

If confirmed, the breach would be one of the largest in history and a serious violation of recently passed Chinese privacy laws.

“Heads will roll at this,” tweeted Kendra Schaefer, tech partner at research consultancy Trivium China.

China’s cybersecurity agency did not respond to a fax requesting comment.

Social Tags:
#Hacker #alleges #data #theft #major #Chinese #citizens

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