The wide world of hacking in China

The Chinese have been known to be experts at hacking for quite some time. But what might surprise some is that it's epidemic across the country in all levels of society.

Don Reisinger
Don Reisinger

Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

2 min read

China has been cited as allegedly hacking into U.S. government and corporate networks for years now. Generally, the thinking has been that the government is the only entity in the country actively hacking. But a new report seems to indicate that's not even close to the truth.

The News York Times on Thursday released a report on hacking across China. The Times found that not only does hacking occur at the highest levels of the government, but that everyone on down from local law enforcement officials to company owners to criminals are using their hacking techniques to take aim at citizens. Companies have even sprung up with the sole purpose of locating "anyone who spreads a rumor on the Internet."

Surprised? Here are just a few of the ways hacking has unfolded in China:

  • Hacking there reaches all levels. From taking data from foreign governments to spying on competitors to making sure no one is launching rumors against the government, hacking is everywhere.
  • The Ministry of Education, along with China-based universities, sponsor hacking events designed to see who has skills the army might need.
  • Corporations are increasingly turning to freelance hackers to spy on competitors. In fact, it's a somewhat common practice across the country to find out what others are doing in their respective fields.
  • Local law enforcement officials have no choice but to hire hacking companies. The federal government says that it's their responsibility to ensure people in their areas are not spreading dissent on the Web.
  • Cybercriminals are obviously getting in on the fun and have been known to easily hack their way into a host of online-gaming services and credit-card databases to score funds.
  • Hacking can be a lucrative job in China. Highly skilled hackers can make $100,000 a year if they team up with the right hacking company.

For its part, China has said that its government is not the hack-happy entity that the U.S. says it is. China has also said that the U.S. and other foreign governments have made attempts to hack into its own systems and networks. It appears, if nothing else, that it's a hack-centric world out there.