China gets tough on cyber crime

By Stuart Sumner
30 Aug 2011 View Comments
Great Wall of China

China's Supreme People's Court (SPC) and Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) have announced new, tougher penalties for those convicted of computer hacking.

This move will be welcomed by firms in the UK and elsewhere, hoping that tougher penalties will act as a deterrent to any China-based hackers looking to target international businesses.

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According to a statement released jointly by the SPC and SPP, reported by Xinhua, the Chinese state-run news agency, the penalties are designed to protect national security and the public interest.

"A crime endangering information network security poses a threat not only to network security but also to national security and the public interest," the organisations said in the statement.

The penalties have also been extended to cover those who knowingly purchase, sell or cover up illegally obtained data or network control, in an effort to apply to more of the cyber criminal ecosystem than just the hackers.

China, along with Russia, is widely thought to harbour a substantial proportion of the world's cyber criminals.

However, the statement describes the country as a victim of cyber attacks.

"More than one million IP addresses in China were controlled from overseas in 2009, 42,000 web sites were distorted by hackers, and 18 million Chinese computers have been infected by the Conficker virus every month."

In February this year, the Chinese government was forced to deny that it was behind cyber attacks on Canada, as the Canadian Treasury Board and Finance Department were both forced offline.

Last month, Xinhua showed footage that appeared to reveal army-labelled software for attacking US-based web sites, apparently confirming that the country is behind persistent cyber attacks on the west.

However, Beijing continues to deny responsibility for such attacks.

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