China becomes world's malware factory

As China's economy cooling down, some of the country's IT professionals are turning to cybercrime, according to a Beijing-based security expert.

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Cyberattacks in the region can be ingenious. Earlier this month, criminals redirected Taiwanese traffic to the tw.msn.com and taiwan.cnet.com websites using what's known as a non-blind TCP spoofing attack.

In this attack, the hackers managed to compromise a switch in Singapore, the country where the websites were hosted, Huang said. They then monitored the switch for traffic and when they saw packets looking for the MSN and Cnet websites, they sent back spoofed packets that redirected the victims to a malicious website, which launched attack code.

The attack lasted about 10 days, in part because security experts had such a hard time figuring out how it was working. "No attack that I have known has persisted for such a long time," Huang said.

He agreed that the economic downturn has had an effect on computer security. "People are more reluctant to disclose vulnerabilities because now they sell them," he said, and Chinese newsgroups are now awash with postings about hackers receiving large payouts for their exploit codes.

"I think the downturn has definitely made the crime scene a lot more active," he said

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