Electronic Weapons: The Chinese Code Bandits


January 29, 2006: Due to new laws in the United States, Internet criminals have been forced to move many of their operations from the United States to China. That puts a lot more hacking activity in China, a country that is more inclined to get cooperation, rather than convictions, from computer criminals.

The most visible form of Internet crime is spam (unsolicited email.) In the last two years, the amount of spam coming from PCs in the United States fell from nearly fifty percent, to 24.5 percent. This is the result of anti-spam laws, and prosecutions that have been putting spammers in jail. The United States is still the prime target for spam, because the U.S. has the largest number of affluent PC users that can be scammed. Chinese, however, still get hit with lots of viruses and worms, mainly because few Chinese PCs have any defenses against these nasties.

Chinese governments, long before the communists came along, were willing to do business with criminal gangs. This was a cheap and discreet way of getting dirty work done. These relationships are usually with local governments, but in the case of Cyber War assets, the government has shown an interest in hacking clubs and informal organizations of Internet criminals. Because the Chinese government exercises such tight control over the Internet in China, it is believed that the computer criminals have to cooperate, or get nailed. The extent of that cooperation is unknown, but the criminal hackers are a large repository of knowledge and expertise on how to break things on the Internet.


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