December 31, 2011

Chinese Government To Crack Down On Phishing Schemes

The Chinese government is joining forces with the nation's most popular search engines to combat phishing attacks that have resulted in the theft of the personal details of more than 45 million Internet users in that country.

According to Sisi Tang and Melanie Lee of Reuters, the Ministry of Public Security announced on Friday that they would be teaming up with 10 Chinese search engines in order to make it more difficult for people to fall victim to the schemes, during which bank customers are tricked into revealing their usernames and passwords by a realistic-looking fake website.

Under the agreement between the government and the search engines, the official websites of the Agricultural Bank of China, China Construction Bank, and other financial institutions will be ranked first in results for specific keywords, ideally reducing the risk of similar attacks in the future, the Ministry reportedly said in an online circular on Friday.

"The anti-phishing initiative comes at the end of a week in which the personal details of almost 10% of China's 485 million web users were stolen," a December 30 BBC News report said.

Included among the attacks were the login names and passwords of 40 million Tianya chat site users and the theft of the email addresses, login names, and passwords of all six million users of the popular CDSN forum for programmers. In both cases, the information was stored in plain text.

"The department believes the recent leak of user information is a serious infringement of the rights of internet users and threatens internet safety," the Ministry said in a statement, according to the BBC. The Chinese government has promised to investigate who was responsible for the attacks.

"China is widely suspected of being the origin of many hacking attacks on government and commercial websites abroad, but officials have repeatedly dismissed reports that the government or military could be behind such attacks," Tang and Lee said.

"China bans numerous overseas websites, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and some foreign media outlets, fearing the uncensored sharing of images and information could cause social instability and harm national security," they added.


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