Computer hacking rampant

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 December, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 December, 1998, 12:00am

The growing popularity of computers and the Internet has brought an explosion of computer hacking.

More foreign hackers are attacking China's computer networks, while domestic hackers are learning new hacking techniques from foreign Web sites, according to the Computer Security Supervision Unit of the Ministry of Public Security.

In the first nine months of this year, 2.8 million personal computers were sold in China, a rise of 28 per cent from a year ago and accounting for four per cent of the world's total.

Now, 542,000 computers are linked to the Internet and there are 1.175 million Net surfers. But the necessary security protection technologies have not yet been developed to cope with the growth of computer network usage and this has led to a sharp rise in hacking.

China's hacking started in 1986 when a computer professional attacked a stock brokerage house's network and netted 20,000 yuan (HK$18,716).

International hackers' raids on China networks have also increased sharply since China joined the Internet in 1994.

Hacking has been particularly rampant this year.

In April, a post-secondary graduate hacker stole insider stock information from a Shanghai brokerage house's network to help his friend who had lost money in stock speculation. In July, a portable phone network in the eastern province of Jiangxi was attacked and disabled for two days.

A university graduate in Shanghai also illegally used a network company server for more than 2,000 hours, resulting in direct losses of 16,000 yuan.

Domestic hackers are getting more organised as hacker groups have been formed on Chinese networks. The computer unit of the Ministry of Public Security is determined to wipe out hackers. It recently charged a hacker in Guangzhou for attacking several media networks with techniques learned from the Internet, the first case against hackers in China.