In what could be one of the biggest data breaches in history, a hackers’ group claimed to have got the personal information of 1 billion Chinese people and have now put it up on sale for 10 Bitcoins (or $200,000).
Reports stated that the hackers’ group has obtained Chinese data worth 24 terabytes (TB) after a leak in the Shanghai police database. Chinese authorities, however, are yet to confirm the leak.
In a post on the online hacking forum Breach Forums last week, someone using the handle “ChinaDan” offered to sell the data on 1 billion people and “several billion case records” for 10 Bitcoins, worth about $200,000, according to the report.
The data included information like names, addresses, national identification numbers and mobile phone numbers, as well as police case details of the people.
More significantly, the data trove also included information on young people, minors and even children who are just one or two years old, the report claimed.
China’s Official Response And People’s Thoughts
While there has not been any official response from the Chinese authorities or the Shanghai police yet over the claims of the hackers, the information about the suspected data leak has already triggered discussions in the country.
China-made social media platform Weibo remained a hotspot for discussions even as the local authorities tried to censor it by blocking search keywords like “Shanghai Data Leak”, according to the report.
People during onine discussions also flagged their apprehension over verification of personal data while even using services like Alipay.
“Everyone, please be careful in case there are more phone scams in the future!” a person said in a Weibo post.
Another commented on Weibo that the leak means everyone is “running naked” — slang used to refer to a lack of privacy — and it is “horrifying”.
What The Experts Think!
Experts said the breach, if confirmed, would be the biggest in history.
Sharing her opinion on social media, Partner and head of technology at policy research firm Trivium China Kendra Schaefer tweeted that it’s “hard to parse truth from the rumor mill, but can confirm file exists”.
On the other hand, Managing director at Hong Kong-based security firm Network Box Michael Gazeley said “such data leaks are fairly common”.
“There are approximately 12 billion compromised accounts posted on the Dark Web right now. That’s more than the total number of people in the world,” he said, adding that a majority of data leaks come from the US.
Principal research scientist at cybersecurity firm Sophos Chester Wisniewski believed that the breach is “potentially incredibly embarrassing to the Chinese government.”
“When you’re talking about a billion people’s information and it’s static information, it’s not about where they traveled, who they communicated with or what they were doing, then it becomes very much less interesting,” Wisniewski believed.
In 2020, a major cyber attack believed to be by Russian hackers compromised several US federal agencies such as the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, telecommunications firms and defence contractors.
Last year, more than 533 million Facebook users had their data published in a hacking forum after hackers scraped its data due to a vulnerability that has since been patched, according to the report.
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